By Joan Morris
Slightly edited by Don Meyer
For far longer than anyone can remember, we’ve been stuffing stuff in our socks. Candy, coal, hay, expensive trinkets, dollar-store finds. If it fits, chances are it’s been stuffed.
But why stockings, and not, say, buckets? Or pants pockets? Or shoes? Well, actually we did try shoes for a while, but the formerly unadorned and underappreciated stocking eventually won the job. There are many theories, but we are a little short on concrete answers. Here, however, is an interesting tidbit that you can savor by the fire on Christmas Eve. (If you have a fireplace.)
The prevailing theory about why we started giving gifts in stockings is the stuff of folk legend. It seems that good St. Nicholas was traveling through a small village where there lived a poor man with three beautiful daughters. Like any father with a trio of lovely daughters, he was worried about their future and how they would be provided for. Nicholas, who had not yet begun his career as a legendary gift-giver, was nonetheless a charitable man, and he wanted to help the poor father. Knowing the man would never accept a handout, he contrived a plan to help.
He waited until the family had gone to bed, then sneaked in through the chimney with three bags of gold coins, one for each daughter. It so happened that the girls had done laundry that day and has left their stockings hanging by the fire to dry. Nicholas found them a handy container to hold his surprise gift.
The money was discovered the next morning and they all lived happily ever after - but not before starting the tradition of leaving stockings by the fire in hopes of a visit by St. Nicholas.
CHRISTMAS FUN CARTOONS