The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
William Arthur Ward

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Positive Inspirational Stories

Positive Featured Inspirational Story - November 29 to December 31, 2009

Treasured Traditions

'HO, HO, HO,' boomed Dad waking the kids on Christmas morning, and always at an outlandish hour. Like before sunrise! The child in him couldn't wait any longer, and he would 'ho, ho, ho' up and down the hall until we staggered out of our rooms. He'd then say with a twinkle in his eye, 'I think Santa has been here, I just heard something on the roof!' That resounding 'ho, ho, ho' is one of my fondest childhood memories.

Thankfully, his 'ho, ho, ho-ing' never stopped! Once gone from home, if the holiday was spent with my parents, one could expect to hear that familiar 'sound from the past' echoing down the hall on Christmas morning. It was something very simple but it was definitely a tradition, and one that Dad delights in to this day at 86 years of age.

To some the uttering of 'ho, ho, ho' may not sound like the definition of a tradition, but according to Merriam-Webster: an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action or behaviour.

I rest my case regarding memories of my first and favourite Christmas tradition! Sadly, sometimes our old traditions fade away, but new ones are always just waiting to be created. And that can happen when you least expect!

The traditional hanging of stockings on the mantel ended once we kids knew the spirit of Santa lived in our hearts. Quite by accident that old tradition was reborn some years ago, but this time for the 'older kids' in the family. As if going back in time, we again had stockings spilling over on Christmas morning.

While doing my regular shopping one season, I was constantly bumping into coffee mugs and cute small items. Each one jumped out at me shouting, 'Oh, Mom would love this!'

Or, 'Oh, wouldn't Jerry's Mom like this?' It was also during a generational gap, so no young children would be with us for the holiday. Thus, there would be no stockings hanging from the mantel. I finally couldn’t stand it any longer and started filling my shopping bags with these cute odds and ends, including a special coffee mug for each person. Next I caught myself buying inexpensive stockings as a means of presenting these special treats. I could feel the spirit of the season soar within me as my plan evolved. A Christmas morning surprise would be such an exciting and unanticipated event. I could hardly keep my scheme to myself.

Everyone did a 'double-take' as they wandered into the family room yawning and rubbing their eyes Christmas morning. They looked like a bunch of little kids realizing that Santa really had been there! Who else could have hung and filled those stockings? Talk about a hit! Everyone ooohed and aaahhhed, and it looked like a reindeer stampede as they raced to the kitchen to wash those mugs for immediate use.

There was no discussion of let's do this every year. The only hint it would continue was that everyone asked if they could keep their stocking. From that point on – we were off and running. And, those inexpensive felt stockings were soon replaced with bigger and better ones. Sometimes bigger truly is better!

Stockings for the 'older kids' have since become traditional, and a highlight of our holiday celebration. With a little thought, it's amazing what wonderful items have been found inside. Most are rather inexpensive, but not always: CDs, DVDs, ties, key chains, refrigerator magnets, personalized note pads, golf towels, perfume, gadgets of all kinds, cash, digital tire pressure gauges, and even a stud finder for a beginning do-it-yourselfer! As for me, selecting the perfect stocking stuffer is far more magical than buying that one major gift.

Depending on who gathers on any given year, lottery tickets from different states are always buried amongst the treasures. Last year we had a $25 winning ticket right off the bat. Everyone squealed with delight, as they continued frantically scratching their own tickets looking for a bigger winner.

One year the main gift from my husband was buried deep in the toe of my stocking. Talk about the perfect place to tuck a piece of jewellery! I nearly fainted that morning, as he had been very generous with gifts on Christmas Eve. He was so pleased with himself he was almost unbearable. But, it couldn’t have been done without the stocking.

Now as family members pack for their Christmas trips, they also pack their stockings. There have been a few times that panic erupted, when someone realized they forgot an item nearly as vital as their underwear! I keep a few spare stockings on hand at my house 'just in case!' After all – it’s become a treasured tradition for the 'older kids' in this family.

Written by Kathleene S. Baker

Kathy resides in Plano, Texas with husband Jerry, and two precious pups, Hank and Samantha. She enjoys writing, needlework, and fishing. As a freelancer, she has contributed to newspapers, anthologies, magazines, online ezines, Chicken Soup for the Soul and writes a weekly column entitled The Heart of Texas.

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