Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Part 2 The treasure chest of Mum's stocking

Somewhere in this treasure-chest of a stocking Mummy would almost certainly place a few sheets of transfers. There were two types available. The cheaper ones were printed about a dozen to a sheet, like postage sheets. We would hastily cut them out, lick our arm, and place the transfer face down on the wet patch. A soggy handkerchief would then be applied to soak the paper backing away, never very successfully, revealing a slimy, far from perfect picture in hues of red, green, and blue. The more expensive type of transfers, which we weren’t always lucky enough to get, had multi-coloured exotic pictures of butterflies and flowers and always produced a perfect result. These transfers were larger, about six to a sheet, and had a silvered coating to one side. We treated these with much more respect and each one was carefully trimmed from its sheet and gently soaked in a saucer of tepid water. It was then very carefully applied to an arm or hand, while we waited for the glorious moment to gently slide the backing paper away, to reveal the secret picture that lay beneath the silver coating.
The toe of our stocking always held an orange, a handful of assorted nuts, and a pink sugar mouse.
A present that arrived on most Christmas mornings, either in my stocking or on the floor beneath it, was a paint box. There was absolutely nothing in the world like receiving a brand new box of water colour paints. The outside of the box was black and so shiny, indented into six cushion shaped squares. The thrill of opening the lid and gazing at the pristine coloured slabs of paint
set in two or three rows, and nestling in the virginal white interior of the box, with the paint brush lying stiff and straight just waiting to be swirled into puddles of brilliant colour, took a lot of beating.
A new pencil case was another longed for luxury. These were double-decker boxes of varnished wood. The top layer not only had a lid that slid out to open up compartments for pencils and rubbers, but it pivoted at one end revealing a lower box for things like a six inch ruler and coloured pencils. The first thing I always did was to open the box and take a deep sniff of the lovely aroma of varnish and new wood, a smell that still transports me back to school days.
I received one of these wonderful magical stockings every single Christmas until I reached the age of fourteen. Naturally, the contents were updated to accommodate my increasing ‘old age’.
On the Christmas Eve following my fourteenth birthday, all the little ones having gone to bed, Mummy turned to me and said the words that would change my Christmas forever:

‘Now that you’re fourteen, would you like to stay up and help me fill the stockings?’

Now I really had begun to leave my childhood behind me, and felt very important. I gathered up the stockings, each with a label pinned to it bearing a child’s name, and excitedly helped Mum to fill them up. I certainly enjoyed this task, and went to bed looking forward to the next day.
Christmas morning dawned and the family trooped into the kitchen to see what good old Father Christmas had delivered. I looked along the mantelpiece for my stocking- it wasn’t there! Then it dawned on me: not only did Mum think that I was old enough to help fill them up, but she thought I was old enough not to have one! I was quite shattered and fought back tears that were hurting the back of my throat. I never said anything to Mum but, from that moment on, Christmas morning would never ever be quite the same.


Croom said...

Oooh what another wonderful blog Leeta, flooding memories back yet again. I must say the end of your blog was soooo upsetting, I could just see your face! I cannot remember when I hung my last stocking. You must have had pressies though on the floor where a stocking would have been hung, mum would not have left any of her children out no matter how ‘grown up’ they became.

Can’t wait for another blog to be written Leeta.

granny grimble said...


Of course I still had all my Christmas stuff, just not in a stocking. Strangely it wasn't the same unwrapping a package, as it was delving down a stocking not knowing what you would pull out.

Babs-beetle said...

I would say that there was only one downside to having such a magical Christmas, and that's when we got too old for the stockings. A sad, but inevitable moment in our lives. I don't remember my first year without one, so it couldn't have been too traumatic :) Lovely memories!

granny grimble said...


Being the eldest, I was always the first one to put my toe in any water, and I can't pretend it wasn't quite upsetting to me, that first stockingless Christmas.

Croom said...

You have such a fantastic memory Leeta, mine is not so good so it is great to get the nudges you give me :O)

weechuff said...

Luckily, the tradition is carried on with my grandchildren, the youngest three of whom will be here Christmas morning this year. It certainly brings the memories flooding back when I come down at 6.00a.m. , put the tree lights on and wait for them to come down to see their stuffed stocking in the half light.
As for the pencil box, I have one exactly the same now. My son Chris made me a beautiful one in woodwork, just before he left school! I have pencils, rubber, staples ruler etc., tucked away inside!

granny grimble said...

You are so blessed to have those little grandchildren still enthralled with the magic of Christmas. How I envy you. I would love to see the pencil box that Chris made for you. Do you use it or is it a keepsake still in pristine condition?

Anne said...

Another memory filled lovely blog Leeta - I can really picture you all opening your stockings on Christmas morning and the excited chatter and laughter from all those little people! We used to have satsumas and nuts and always a sixpence somewhere in our stockings. Just my brother and me so when we woke up we used to take them and sit on our Mum and Dad's bed and open them there. Always far too early in the morning but they never minded!

Kathy McIntosh said...

What magical memories! And traditions, too. Thanks for sharing. Growing up is such a mixed blessing, especially for teens.

granny grimble said...

Kathy McIntosh

Thank you so much for visiting and commenting on my post. You are very kind. I hope you read part one first. I have just popped over to read your blog, and found it so interesting and helpful. I love writing so from now on will be one of your regular readers.

Jay said...

Oh, how sad. Your Mum should have remembered to explain that to you, I think. But I can well imagine how important you felt helping to fill them! And I remember those transfers, too! I loved them.

SWUBIRD said...


A touching little story about growng up. Who wants to grow up? Life for adults is no way near as fun as that of children. And that's especially true for Christmas. Adults can play Santa Clause, but children believe in Santa Cause. And that's what it's all about.

As I mentioned in my last comment, my Queen still hangs out the stockings, including one for herself. She wants to keep us in high spirits for Christmas and she wants us to be young for as long as we can. What a lovely soul she has.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!