This past Saturday I attended my book club’s Christmas Luncheon. Earlier during the week, the vice president of the club came up with an idea for the program I thought creative and fun. The idea was for each of us to provide something from our own personal holiday experiences, whether it was a memory, a favorite recipe, family traditions, or some other meaningful thing. She mailed each of us a blank holiday card in advance and asked that we fill it out with our preference on what we wanted to contribute.
The card wasn’t big enough for my windbag tendencies. True to form, I had decided to share two things, a story and a recipe, because I’m never satisfied with contributing what’s sufficient.
Just like presents, I believe more is better.
Once we arrived, we were to drop our cards in a basket and each member would draw the cards at random and read the contents.
This is the story I shared. I shared it because it’s one of the clearest memories I have of believing in the magic of Christmas.
My Magic Stocking
When I was five, I recollect going to bed that Christmas eve, (eagerly for a change), so Santa could come. My mother made a big deal about showing me a stocking hanging from post of my spindle bed. This was a mistake. The sock, actually one of my father’s old white socks she’d looped a red string through, immediately turned into something very special because, as she’d explained, Santa was going to put “goodies” in it, but only if I was asleep.
She kissed my forehead, turned off the light, and closed my door. I lay still for a second. The sock was there. Right there at the end of the bed, but shouldn’t I make sure? I sat up, and crept down to the end of the bed to touch the sock. I found myself searching, and searching.
No sock. I sat back on my heels. Something was wrong.
A scurry of slippers from the other room could be heard, and then, a sliver of light from the living room lamp fell into the room, capturing me at the end of my bed, like a spotlight.
“What is it?”
“I can’t find the sock!”
She came in, went to the end of the bed and found it right away, “It’s right here, see? Lie back down and go to sleep.”
I frowned at her, but, headed back up towards my pillow – at least that’s what she saw. As soon as I heard the click of the door, I crawled right back to the end of the bed, my fingers reaching around the post, up it, down it and over it methodically.
The “Mom!” came louder this time.
I heard muffled exclamations. The door opened again.
“Donna, what is it? No sock?”
I pointed at the post and said, “It’s not there.”
I heard the exasperation in my mother’s voice as she came into the room, “Oh yes it is, it’s here, just like I showed you, see?”
She stood at the end of the bed, the limp, white sock dangling from her fingers. It was sort of embarrassing. How come she could find it and I couldn’t?
She made me lie back down, fluffed my covers, handed me my stuffed tiger, and said, “Now, you better go to sleep or Santa won’t come.”
The light goes out. The door closes. And you know what I did. I flew down to the end of the bed. My mouth dropped. NO SOCK! This was alarming. This was mysterious. What was going on?
I stared around the room nervously before shrieking, “Mom!”
This time I heard a loud noise, and louder muffled exclamations. The door flew open, the light flicked on with that sort of “click!” made by an “I’m losing my patience” hand. I was crouched at the end of the bed, on my knees, the bottom of my jammies twisted in my fingers. I was on the verge of crying. Without one word, she marched to the end of the bed, and that doggone sock was right THERE.
She said, “It’s a magic sock! Santa’s been trying to come, but you keep getting up and making it disappear! This is what happens when you don’t do as I say. Now. If you don’t go to sleep…,”
“I will, I will, I promise!”
“Okay, then. Good night.”
The door closed and I noticed how it closed too, sort of like how that light switch sounded. Very firm. No nonsense. Still, you know, me being me and all, I couldn’t get down to the end of the bed fast enough. I blew out a sigh of relief. The sock was there. Finally, finally. I could go to sleep, reassured Santa would come. No need to yell. No need to get in trouble. No need to worry.
Years later I learned my mother was removing the sock each time, then had to bring it back when I yelled, acting as if it had been there all along. To me, it seemed as if it was disappearing, just as she’d said. It had seemed like magic to me.
And, well, it was magic, because it was all about innocence.
I mentioned I also shared a recipe, and I’m sharing that with you too! I hope you enjoy! (I save the egg whites and make egg white omelets.)
Amazingly Good Eggnog
- 4 cups milk
- 5 whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 12 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 1/2 cups light rum (optional)
- 4 cups light cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine milk, cloves, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and cinnamon in a saucepan, and heat over lowest setting for 5 minutes. Slowly bring milk mixture to a boil. In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar. Whisk together until fluffy. Whisk hot milk mixture slowly into the eggs. Pour mixture back into saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 3 minutes, or until thick. Do not allow mixture to boil. Strain to remove cloves, and let cool for about an hour. Stir in rum (optional), cream, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and nutmeg. Refrigerate overnight before serving.