I’m a keeper of old things. That’s clear, though these days, less and less. Going through boxes of Christmas decorations, I found my childhood stocking. I think my parents bought it when I was born because it’s not the stocking I remember being stuffed with little gifts.
For those who may not know the traditions surrounding Christmas, children hang a ‘stocking’ which used to mean a long stretchy sock but morphed into a specially crafted, usually red, classic shaped ‘stocking’ large enough to hold small gifts like candy, toy cars and other trinkets.
It was the original place for gifts to show up that Saint Nicholas (aka Santa Claus) who was a kindly soul who blessed poor children on Christmas Eve by putting a treat in the children’s socks which were hung over the fire to dry after their daily washing.
There are all kinds of variations about this. It’s the secular part of Christmas but in many ways, the idea of sacrificially giving to others to bring unexpected joy, hope and love is a central theme to the birth of Christ for which the word ‘Christmas’ means.
Christmas lesson done, back to the relic of my childhood. When I look at this stocking, not only is it way too small to suit a child’s dream of an overstuffed abundance of goodies, but it has a nursery rhyme on it which has nothing to do with Christmas. This always confused me. (I spent a lot of time confused about things!).
My parents however, bought it for their sweet, angel baby (I was sweet and angelic then) as the most appropriate. It meant something to them. It doesn’t mean the same thing to me.
This just reminds me of the conundrum that new writer’s often get stuck in, especially fantasy writers. How to explain and convey the significance of values and attitudes of a character that lives in a world that doesn’t exist.
From the writer’s mind everything makes sense, but for the reader that has not hashed out the details, edited and designed for hours on end, it’s all foreign, disconnected. I know if I took the time to research Christmas at the time my stocking was bought, I would find that the symbols that were part of my older childhood were not yet established. I might learn that nursery rhymes were the backbone of parenting. I’m guessing this is the case. It doesn’t really matter. I do appreciate that after several (unnamed) years the print is still pristine, and it is not falling apart. That says something about quality! The other take away for me is to put this mental exercise into practice as I write, by keeping in mind that what I think is common knowledge, contextually clear, may need more scaffolding than first seems necessary. Hope you find this tip helpful too!