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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

The Christmas Stocking

Every year my family, like many families around the world, hangs stockings on our fireplace mantle, one for every member of the family. It’s a wonderful tradition that brings childhood memories flooding back. Though nobody knows precisely when the tradition began, it is said that originally, children would put out a regular sock or a shoe in hopes of receiving a gift from Saint Nicholas, or in some countries known as Father Christmas.

I remember my Grandfather saying that if we weren’t good we would get a lump of coal or an old piece of cornbread in our stocking. I had no use for a piece of coal but the consolation prize of cornbread never bothered me. I thought that as long as I could put it in a glass of milk, it would be just fine. Ha.

When I was a kid, the Christmas stocking was the only present we were allowed to open before our parents got up. So before dawn, my brother Chris and I would get our stockings and crawl back in the bed. With only the glow from the streetlight beaming through our shared bedroom window, we would hurriedly empty our stockings of everything. Sifting through our new found treasure, we whispered to each other:

“I got a car.”

“I got hard candy.”

"I got a tangerine.”

"I got a set of Jax.” And so it went.

Eventually, we tired and dozed back to sleep, stockings in hand. Later we awoke to open the “real” presents. Stockings were all but forgotten as we ripped open our presents with parental supervision and joy. Forgotten, that is, until next year when the Christmas stocking was the most important gift of early pre-dawn Christmas.

Even today as I hang the stocking for my family, precious memories flood back. Sadly, one stocking won’t be hanging on our mantle this year. It still remains with the others, carefully packed in our decorations box. Our family pet Buzzy, the most beautiful Collie I’ve ever seen, passed away after battling a long illness. Three times she was at death’s door and the Vet sent her home to die. Twice, our prayers were answered and God miraculously spared her life.

Even the Vet was amazed at her incredible recovery two times, several months apart. But on the third time, we had to finally release our good friend to the Lord.

With the passage of time, sorrow weakens and the joy of fond memories grows strong. As we hang our family stockings on the mantle with care, the one with Buzzy written in glitter brings a smile to our faces and warms our hearts, as we remember her and how we used to fill her stocking with chew toys, balls, and treats. Then we carefully place it back in the decorations box.

If you have lost a loved one, friend, or even a beloved pet, and are facing the Christmas season in grief, remember the good times, just for Christmas. Treasure the precious memories with an inner peace. Depend on the Lord Jesus, whose birth we celebrate, to fulfill His mission to you. The mission that this season proclaims, peace on earth, good will towards men.

“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:14 NLT)

Jesus gave us encouragement in the Bible where these words were recorded:

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)

God loves you and offers you a spiritual Christmas stocking overflowing with love and peace. Merry Christmas Dear Reader!

Copyright © Gene Markland, used with permission.

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