I have pulled it out of the red and green-topped box each year since my divorce. The sole stocking left among my divorce residue – a reminder of my divided family. It is the stocking purchased when the dream of my future family was thriving. I bought four stockings together, perhaps foolishly, during the pregnancy of my first daughter. I was hopeful from the beginning she would have a sibling. The first Christmas after she was born, I had the stockings monogrammed “Mom,” “Dad,” and “Anna.” I left the last blank until the time came that eventually our Sophia would arrive and complete our quartet.
The girls each had green stockings with red cuffs, and my ex-husband and I the reverse. It was the perfect set. It represented what would surely be my perfect life, complete with perfect family Christmases. Little did I know then that seven years after the purchase of these stockings, I would be packing the “Dad,” “Anna,” and “Sophia” stockings in one box and the “Mom” stocking in a separate box. It felt like a sacrifice at the time – letting go of those stockings.
In the years since I have hung new stockings by the chimney with care – stockings that reflect a new version our family. I was intentional when asking a sewing goddess friend to hand-make them for us. Our family no longer fits into the cookie cutter mold of a perfect set of stockings. Our family is no longer represented in advertisements of a “whole” family. I wanted our family stockings to represent our perfectly imperfect us. Now, our new stockings represent our changed family. They are unique, irreplaceable, and unmistakably ours.
And still each year, I pull out my old stocking stuffed with my old dreams and I look back on the years in between. Years filled with both sadness and sweetness. Years spent in continual growth and wisdom about being a mom. I think back to 13 years ago when I made this purchase with my belly bulging and think about all the hopes I had about motherhood.
I can see now that despite my changing circumstances, all of my dreams have come true: I am called mom by two loving, delightful girls. We have shared wonderful holiday memories every year since their arrivals. That no matter which version of the “Mom” stocking has been hung fireside, it has been filled with the gifts that matter most – comfort, gratitude, and love.
This holiday season, I encourage you to find the focus on whatever version of family your household now holds. Reflect on years past for what they are – years past – and savor the now.