Saturday, November 12, 2011
K.A.C. 2011 - T - 43 ...
Good morning and welcome back! Our theme today is Christmas stockings. Ever wonder where this particular tradition started? Well, while there's no definite answer, here are two versions that I like (via Wikipedia) - the first is the more traditional: "Very long ago, there lived a poor man and his three very beautiful daughters. He had no money to get his daughters married, and he was worried what would happen to them after his death.
Saint Nicholas was passing through when he heard the villagers talking about the girls. St. Nicholas wanted to help, but knew that the old man wouldn't accept charity. He decided to help in secret. He waited until it was night and crept through the chimney. He had three bags of gold coins with him, one for each girl. As he was looking for a place to keep those three bags, he noticed stockings of the three girls that were hung over the mantelpiece for drying. He put one bag in each stocking and off he went. When the girls and their father woke up the next morning, they found the bags of gold coins and were of course, overjoyed. The girls were able to get married and live happily ever after. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver."
The second variation of this is my personal favorite, so let's give that a whirl, shall we? "The Christmas stocking custom is derived from the Germanic figure Odin. According to Phyllis Siefker, children would place their boots, filled with carrots, straw, or sugar, near the chimney for Odin's flying horse, Sleipnir, to eat. Odin would reward those children for their kindness by replacing Sleipnir's food with gifts or candy."
This practice, she claims, survived in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands after the adoption of Christianity and became associated with Saint Nicholas as a result of the process of Christianization.
In addition to chestnuts roasting on an open fire at this time of year, we also have traditional stories that are shared every year ... the most famous of the "Funniest Christmas Story Ever Told" award involves Christmas stockings - it is a (supposedly) true story that was sent in as part of a contest to the Lousiville Sentinel newspaper in 1999. It's gone around a number of times under different names, but I've always been partial to "Christmas With Louise" --- true or not, it's a fine piece of holiday humor!
As a joke, my brother used to hang a pair of panty hose
over his fireplace before Christmas.
He said all he wanted was for Santa to fill them. What they say about Santa checking the list twice must be true because
every Christmas morning, although Jay's kids' stockings were overflowed,
his poor pantyhose hung sadly empty.
One year I decided to make his dream come true. I put on sunglasses and went in search of an inflatable love doll. They don't
sell those things at Wal-Mart. I had to go to an adult bookstore downtown. If you've never been in an X-rated store, don't go. You'll only confuse yourself. I was there an hour saying things like, "What does this do?" "You're kidding me!" " Who would buy that?" Finally, I made it to the inflatable doll section. I wanted to buy a standard, uncomplicated doll that could also substitute as a passenger in my truck so I could use the car pool lane during rush hour. Finding what I wanted was difficult. Love dolls come in many different models. The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do
things I'd only seen in a book on animal husbandry. I settled for "Lovable
Louise." She was at the bottom of the price scale. To call Louise a "doll" took a huge leap of imagination.
On Christmas Eve, with the help of an old bicycle pump, Louise came to life.
My sister-in-law was in on the plan and let me in during the wee morning
hours, long after Santa had come and gone. I filled the dangling pantyhose
with Louise's pliant legs and bottom. I also ate some cookies and drank what
remained of a glass of milk on a nearby tray. I went home, and giggled for a
couple of hours.
The next morning my brother called to say that Santa had been to his house
and left a present that had made him VERY happy but had left the dog
confused. She would bark, start to walk away, then come back and bark
some more. We all agreed that Louise should remain in her panty hose so
the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for the
traditional Christmas dinner.
My grandmother noticed Louise the moment she walked in the door.
"What the hell is that?" she asked. My brother quickly explained, "It's a doll."
"Who would play with something like that?" Granny snapped. I had several
candidates in mind, but kept my mouth shut. "Where are her clothes?"
Granny continued. "Boy, that turkey sure smells nice, Gran," Jay said, trying
to steer her into the dining room. But Granny was relentless. "Why doesn't
she have any teeth?" Again, I could have answered, but why would I? It was Christmas and no one wanted to ride in the back of the ambulance saying, "Hang on Granny, Hang on!" My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me and said," Hey, who's the naked gal by the fireplace?" I told him she was Jay's friend. A few minutes later I noticed Grandpa by the mantel, talking to
Louise. Not just talking, but actually flirting.
It was then that we realized this might be Grandpa's last Christmas at home.
The dinner went well. We made the usual small talk about who had died,
who was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Louise made a
noise that sounded a lot like my father in the bathroom in the morning.
Then she lurched from the panty hose, flew around the room twice, and fell
in a heap in front of the sofa. The cat screamed. I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. My brother fell back over his chair and wet his pants and Granny threw down her napkin, stomped out of the room, and
sat in the car.
It was indeed a Christmas to treasure and remember.
Later in my brother's garage, we conducted a thorough examination to
decide the cause of Louise's collapse. We discovered that Louise had
suffered from a hot ember to the back of her right thigh. Fortunately, thanks
to a wonder drug called duct tape, we restored her to perfect health. Louise went on to star in several bachelor party movies. I think Grandpa still calls her whenever he can get out of the house.