“Are you still planning to come out for Christmas?” I was speaking with my oldest son who lives 375 miles away and doesn’t drive.
“Yeah, I still have some credits with the airline. That will pay for part of it, anyway. I’ll find the rest of the money somewhere.”
I bit my lip, wishing I could offer to send the money but my disability check barely covered my own expenses.
“Don’t worry about it, Mom. I’ll find a way. I really want to be there this year.”
Unable to join us last year, he settled for a video call during which we watched an entire Christmas movie together.
“Okay, but no gifts. I’m serious. I don’t need anything.”
“Actually,” he said, “I was planning to make something for both of you.”
“I love that idea! Maybe we could all do it.”
I was, in fact, thrilled with the suggestion. My ex-husband used to make a big deal about Christmas gifts. They had to be big and plentiful. Personally, I found so much needless stuff sucked the joy right out of Christmas.
Most of the gifts were just there to fill space. It was wasteful. I didn’t want more stuff. I wanted less gifts with more meaning. I wanted to know the gifts were chosen with care, with thoughtfulness. Homemade gifts would be exactly that.
I was a little worried about how my younger son would react to the idea — not because he was hung up on getting presents but because he might need help in figuring out what he could make for us.
“Can we still do stockings?”
“Yes, of course,” I said, “but dollar store only.”
Stockings were maybe my favorite holiday tradition. From the time the kids were old enough to let go of Santa Claus, stuffing stockings became something we all participated in. Each person would pick out a few items for everyone else’s stocking and it was absolutely permissible to slip a few things into your own stocking.
Every item, no matter how small, had to be wrapped, using scraps of paper leftover from larger gifts. We would open our gifts on Christmas morning, cook a full breakfast, and then open our stockings. Going around the room, we would take turns opening one thing at a time. Oh, the joy and laughter we shared opening those tiny packages!
The only thing better than opening the stockings was finding gifts to fill them. I liked to pick up things that reminded me of my own childhood — small musical instruments, wooden puzzles, and, of course, a Mandarin orange to stick in the toe.
Holiday traditions are a big part of every family, regardless of religion. It’s a time to gather, hold close the ones you love, and create new memories. Our family had changed. There were some traditions we needed to let go of and others to which we held tight.
I think for the kids, part of it was maintaining a sense of normalcy within our new family structure. We still take a drive through Candy Cane Lane on Christmas Eve. We still watch a cheesy Christmas movie on Christmas Day. And we still fill each other’s stockings with love and laughter.
Later that day, I sat down to have a conversation with my younger son. He took the news of homemade gifts better than I expected. I could see the wheels turning as he plotted what gifts he could make, asking me questions like what animal best represents me, and what my favorite color is. Then he paused and looked at me.
“Can we still do stockings?”
Find more Christmas cheer throughout the MockingOwl Roost’s holiday collection.
- ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas at the Black Orb – Versed Fiction
- Holiday Refrain – Prose
- Almost Christmas Morning – Poetry
- The Princess and the Pain – Fiction
- Fireplace for Your Home – Nonfiction
- Holes in the Stockings – Poetry
- A Gift for Sandy – Nonfiction
- A Simple Gift – Nonfiction
- Sip and Be Merry Tea Review
- Christmas Traditions – Nonfiction
- Positivity Corner: Asking Questions, Christmas Edition
- Christmas Waltz – Poetry
- My Favorite Things: A Christmas Carol
- Vacation to the Dragons of Io – Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3 – Fiction
- Chorus of the Waiting – Fiction
Sally Quon is a dirt-road diva and teller of tales, living in British Columbia, Canada. She has been shortlisted for Vallum Magazine’s Chapbook Prize two consecutive years and is an associate member of the League of Canadian Poets. Her personal blog is where she posts her back-country adventures and photos. She has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Big-Stories About Life in a Plus Size Body and Writing For Life. Her first collection of poetry, Beauty, Born of Pain, was released in 2023.