Traditions can be started any time, and any place, with any person.

Thirteen years ago, the night before Christmas Eve, a knock came at my door. There stood our friend, Paula, with a beautifully wrapped silver Nordstrom box. Inside was a hand-knit Christmas stocking for our new baby girl, Abigail Ellen Rose.

“Here’s the sock! I worked all night to get it finished so you’d have it for Abigail’s first Christmas,” Paula told us, as she handed us the box.

My two other kids already had their own knit “sock,” as Paula called them. Paula felt the pressure to get Abby’s finished for her first Christmas. (By the way, these socks are about 2 1/2 feet long!)

What we didn’t know was, only a few short months later, Paula would be gone from our lives, as she died suddenly after a heart procedure.

Walt and Paula were dear friends of mine for many years. I had met Walter when he started on dialysis at my longtime workplace, and our friendship grew outside of a professional relationship. In fact, he and Paula were “designated grandparents” in my wedding almost 20 years ago, as my husband and I didn’t have any living grandparents.

My story today is about the tradition of our family’s Christmas Stockings.

It started with Elliot.
And then Garrett came along.
And then our little girl, Abby.

Their names are on the front side of the socks.

And the year they were born on the back.

Over the years, I’ve filled these large socks with toys, socks, underwear and toiletry items, cologne, lip gloss, video games, gift cards and music. Now my kids are teens, and we’re feeling the crunch of the economy just like everyone else. A sock this size can cost a lot to fill!

I want to be more creative this year, so this is where I need your help!

How should I fill up these stockings?

What to WIN:
3 winners will each win ONE copy of The Reluctant Entertainer.

Answer at least ONE of these questions to WIN:
What items do you fill Christmas stockings with?
Do you ever feel wasteful?
Do you fill the socks with useful items or “fun” items?
Do you have any happy memories of Christmas stockings from when you were young?

Tweet, Facebook, or sign up for NEW RSS Feed:
Do one of the above for an extra entry or two, and come back and tell me.

WINNER ANNOUNCED:
The 3 winners will be announced on Wednesday, December 22nd.

Thank you friends for the great “stocking stuffing” advice! I can’t wait to read all of your comments. And there’s still time to order from Amazon, your own copy of The RE. (However, it is too late to get a “signed” copy from me, in time for Christmas.)

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