December 27th -- Our special stocking tradition
Every year growing up I always found an orange and a quarter in the toe of my Christmas stocking. This probably sounds crazy and random to those of you who don't know the meaning behind it, but I'll get into that in a bit. This is a family tradition that my mother grew up with as a child as well -- a tradition that will also continue in the future when my siblings and I have children. Of course we always received other small treats and gifts in our stockings as well, but these two things made an appearance every year.
My family started doing this because of the origin story of the Christmas stocking. For those who don't know here it is:
"St. Nicholas, who was a rich bishop, born in the 4th century of present-day Turkey, once learned of a shopkeeper who was poor and unable to find husbands for his three daughters as they didn’t have money for dowries. The man worried what would become of his very beautiful daughters after he died. However, the man was very proud and would not accept money or charity from others. Yet, St. Nicholas still wished to help. He, therefore, decided to help in secret. One day he secretly tossed three bags of gold down the chimney while they slept. Each bag (or ball) of gold happened to land in each of the daughters’ stockings which fortuitously were hung by the fire to dry. The family awoke the next morning and found the gold and were, of course, overjoyed at the generosity they had received anonymously. The daughters were then able to pay their dowries and wed, ensuring their father peace knowing they would be taken care of after he was no longer around." (from whatsupfagans.com)
For generations my family has continued on this tradition to bring us all back to the classic ways and true meanings of Christmas. We always receive an orange, because some stories say the gold melted into a ball from being hung over the fire, and a coin to remind us of the gold. I love this tradition because it helps -- especially children -- to understand how to give selflessly, that giving is more important than receiving, and that it's the thought behind a gift that matters most.