There are eight Christmas stockings filled with all kinds of goodies hanging along the radiator cover next to our prayer corner. I know, not the smartest place to harbor chocolates, but we haven’t got a mantle and that’s the next-best place for them.
Melting chocolate aside, the stockings – one for each member of the original Fenelon Clan plus two – are awaiting their owners, who will grab them up and pilfer through them at some point in the next day or two. It’s not that they don’t care or aren’t looking forward to the contents. They are. It’s that only one of our four kids still lives at home. One is already married and another seriously dating. They’re just not around, that’s all.
Yesterday, as I and the youngest Clansman were getting getting things ready for “St. Nick” to come, he asked me, “So, how long are you gonna keep doing this? Will you stop once we’re all moved out?”
“Nope,” I told him. “I’m going to keep doing it until I’m so old and decrepit that I can’t anymore.” He just smiled and shook his head.
Of course I realize that the kids are older and don’t need stockings anymore. I know that they know what will be in them every December 6 (we get pretty much the same stuff every year. I mean, why mess with success?). I know that I’m probably giddier over them examining what’s inside than they are themselves. I even know that they probably fake a smile when they spot the one type of candy that they absolutely hate but pretend to like for my sake. Yep, yep, yep. I know all that.
But here’s what I, and all of Fenelon Clan know: The stockings aren’t about expectation of goodies on a jolly saint’s feast day. That’s merely a tiny part of it. The stockings are a symbol of who we are and all that we have experienced as a family. When I look at those stockings, I remember the dark, horrible times and how we navigated through them (with God’s grace). I remember the unbelievably glorious times and how we celebrated through them (again with God’s grace). I remember the times of dryness and uncertainty and how we stumbled through them (with God’s grace). I remember the times we were at one another’s throats and the times we couldn’t seem to get enough of each other. Most of all, I remember who my children are at their core and the foundation their Dad and I have striven to instill in them.
The stockings represent our family epic, with all its ups and downs and twists and turns of the past, present, and future. They proxy for who we were, who we’ve become, and who we will be – all together, individually, and in the off shoot Clans that will form in the future. That’s why they’re hanging there today, and why they’ll be hanging there for as long as I can muster the strength to put them up and fill them.
Happy Feast of St. Nicholas!