Santa strikes once again! Ho! Ho! Ho!

Dec 26, 2019 | 0 comments

Our stockings had been waiting expectantly for days and days, hung by the chimney in hope once again.  By my reckoning, it’s the 79th Christmas my stocking had been poised for Santa’s late night visit.

I have a dim memory of the first time I met that stocking.  I was four and we were living on College Avenue in Portland.  I remember the street being so steep that my mother’s friend Gyla Cannon refused to go up it in a car.  Her husband, “Ding,” would let her out at the bottom and she would climb the stairs that served as a sidewalk.  I don’t think my folks owned a car then so we must have walked up and down those steep steps as a matter of course.

Anyway, I have a clear remembrance of my mother giving me that long red stocking with the furry cuff that had my name written on it.  And I remember putting it on my leg and asking where the other one was and hearing my mother’s laugh and voice (in what I remember as a rather scolding tone) saying, “Why Sydney!  It’s your Christmas stocking!”  Which meant absolutely nothing to me.  I remember the feeling her tone gave me to this very day — one of my first inklings that I might not be very bright.  Nevertheless, I treasure that old stocking and love to find it among the Christmas trappings each year.

Charlie’s stocking is as old as he is.  His dad and I got it for him for his first Christmas in 1956.  The jingle bells around the edges have been re-attached periodically and I think it has a few scorch marks from overly-enthusiastic fire sparks, but its most distinctive quality is that it says “Quad” on it.  That was Charlie’s nickname until he began school — for Charles Morgan Howell IV and for the fact that the quad at Stanford was central to our lives until I graduated in 1957.

The newest stocking amongst the group is Nyel’s, presented to him in 1984, the first Christmas he spent here with me and my family.  It’s the biggest one (but so is Nyel) and it is knitted so it stretches and stretches the more Santa puts in it.  Missing this year is Marta’s stocking — as is dear Marta.  I think she took it with her the last Christmas she was here and the off-chance that she’d be elsewhere when Santa next came calling.  I hope she remembered to hang it and I hope Santa found it in far off California!

As usual, I was early and was itching to get the show on the road.  But also, as usual, we were lucky to get to the stockings before lunchtime.  And that’s another well-remembered Christmas memory — impatience, excitement, eagerness!  ‘Tis the season!  Ho! Ho! Ho!

Christmas Morning 2019



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