Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Stockings Were Hung By...Hooks?

During the Great Upheaval a decade or so ago, when the old house lost its shag rugs and stucco walls, it also lost its fireplace.

It wasn't much of a loss. The fireplace was gas and hadn't worked since we moved in. The mantle was a slab of black-painted pine and the decorative grate had several broken teeth and looked as if David Copperfield should have been crouching in front of it saying, "Please, sir, may I have some more?" (Oh, all right. I'm mixing up my Dickens characters. The fireplace wasn't that great, is what I'm saying.)

So behind the wall you see at the right is a fireplace, and the next person who remodels this house is going to someday shriek at his wife, "Holy cow, Maude, you'll never guess what they covered up here! What a bunch of morons!"

The only problem with losing the fireplace is that we also lost a place by which to hang our stockings with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

(Funny story about the stockings: When we got married I bought a kit and knit stockings for Husband and for me. The kit contained yarn for a green stocking and a red stocking--perfect! I'd make all of our girl stockings in green and all of our boys stockings in red! After Boy#3 I gave up and started using the green yarn for other projects.)

Anyway, I tried several hanging options in the first few years after the remodel. The stockings were hung around the window arch, and draped over the couch, and one year we had a particularly lame-looking stocking chair.

Then it struck me: We needed a stocking ladder! It would look folksy and chic, and store easily in the attic between Yuletides. I found the perfect one in a local antique shop, only $8! Sold!

I brought it home, and Husband agreed it would be perfect "as soon as I get it cleaned up a little."

No, no, no! I told him. That's the charm! The peeling paint! The weathered look!

"No, it just looks old, and used, and not charming," he said, "and I am taking it to the basement and will clean it up just a little."

Long ago I realized I am way too rigid about my preferences--it's Husband's Christmas, too, right?--so I didn't argue. Soon I heard the power sander start up. I gritted my teeth, and fretted. Why didn't Husband see my vision? Finally I sighed and realized that this issue was not worth ruining Christmas with the sulk I was about to start.

Then he came upstairs carrying the ladder. It was perfect. And by perfect, I mean it was still chipped and peeling.

"Ha, ha!" he cried merrily. "Got you that time, didn't I?"

And in spite of that, his stocking was still filled on Christmas morning. Santa must be pretty darned forgiving is all I can say.

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