Calhoun Times

The Christmas stockings are missing!!

- Coleen Brooks is a longtime resident of Gordon County who previously wrote for the Calhoun Times as a columnist. She retired as the director and lead instructor for the Georgia Northweste­rn Technical College Adult Education Department in 2013. She can be

They came in like gangbuster­s, Hatcher looking for candy and Gaines following after. The two brothers are our youngest grandchild­ren of six. I call Hatcher a ring-tailed monkey. He is always “on” so to speak and Gaines follows after everything he does. Hatcher is five and Gaines is a few months shy of two.

They remind me of our two oldest sons, Heath and Hayden, only our two were close in age, less than two years apart. They along with their daddy, Hayden, had come to help with Christmas decoration­s.

The inside is just about finished. No, it isn’t as elaborate as it usually is, but I’ve had a lot going on this latter part of the year into the holidays. Besides, we don’t have anymore children living at home. When our four were still young, we did all kinds of decorating with lights strung inside everywhere and usually a big Christmas tree we searched for in woods and other places.

The prettiest tree we ever had was growing out of an abandoned toilet on the top of Redbone Ridge. It was a perfectly shaped short-leafed pine, Bill’s and my favorite. The kids thought it was a hoot that it had grown so perfectly out of that toilet. Of course, one child was curious as to why a commode would be left out in the open. I had no answer except some people will leave all kinds of stuff along the sides of roads and in unpopulate­d areas. It didn’t matter to any of us where it grew to a beautiful, perfect Christmas tree.

Our Christmas trees have evolved into telling the history of our family. I’m a saver of special things no matter how aged they become or how no longer beautiful. Heather’s Santa Mouse from her kindergart­en class back 40+ years ago no longer has ears or arms. Its yarn tail is still attached, though. Constructi­on paper can get fragile after that many years. No matter, it is placed on the tree every year along with Hayden’s wellworn angel, Heath’s picture in a faded green constructi­on paper tree, and Hart’s face ornament with most of the glitter gone.

All four of our children were very creative. I liked to encourage their creativity and one Christmas I decided they could paint Christmas scenes on our front windows and the front door. I fixed them up with some tempera paint, water, brushes and spread newspaper on the floor in their areas. Children are not neat when they are really letting their minds create wonderful images.

Our middle child was, and still is, a perfection­ist. At three or four, his mind pictured what he wanted on the window, but his hands couldn’t quite achieve it. He’d get frustrated, throw down his paint brush, and stomp off. He did this several times until I finally told him that what he and his brother and sister were doing was supposed to be fun. He didn’t seem to be having fun. A light went off in his eyes and he finally decided to have fun. All the creations were wonderful. The window seals had distinct green stains for several years before the house was renovated. I kind of missed those windows.

Through the years, Christmas displays grew. Our Christmas village grew from a few structures on an upright piano to several tables of structures, lakes, people, fences, trees, scrubs, rocks, a cemetery, and a train. Our outside lights with all the critters and other displays grew and our electric bill grew with it. We didn’t care. We loved it when people stopped to look at all that was displayed. We haven’t done anything so far this year, but we will. It won’t be as elaborate, but it’ll be fun.

So here we all were with the boys playing with toys as old as their daddy and their daddy searching for Christmas decoration­s that seemed to have disappeare­d. I mean, the Christmas stockings were missing … all 16 of them! Our family had grown quite a bit since our first Christmas with our first child some 47 years ago. Where the heck were the Christmas stockings??

Hayden and I checked out all the crates in the outbuildin­g — nothing. Bill checked underall the beds — nothing. Well, maybe some dust. The closets produced nothing. I was beginning to get a wee bit concerned. I packed most of the decoration­s myself. What did I do with the most important Christmas decoration­s of all — our Christmas stockings!

Our home is unique with some nooks and crannies. Lo and behold, a little alcove off Hart’s one-time bedroom held the mystery of the missing stockings along with some other missing items.

Hayden and Bill saved the day. The stockings will be hung by our chimneyles­s fireplace with care. Christmas is saved!

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Brooks

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