Wooden Stockings? What?
I bet that title caught your eye. Go ahead, Google it. You won’t find my kind of wooden stockings anywhere. No one still alive has any idea
of the genesis of this particular Christmas tradition, but you will find one in each of my sibling’s homes. Even if no other Christmas decoration manages to see the light of day, our little wooden stockings come out and sit in a place of honor. This was our special Christmas Tradition–wooden stockings.
They don’t all look the same. I suppose my Grandpa Axtell got tired of making them for us. As you move on down the line to the younger grandchildren, the stockings become less and less polished. I’m second to the youngest, so while my stocking wasn’t painted red and white with glitter (GLITTER!), it did get a coat or two of varnish. My younger brother… well… he did get a stocking. That’s about all I can say about that.
Sometimes it is hard to keep up with traditions.
Dear Husband and I have continued the wooden stocking tradition in our home and when we were much younger, much more ambitious
and had much less in the way of nieces and nephews, we were known to construct, paint, personalize and gift wooden stockings. I make that sound like we had a serious assembly line going, but let’s get real….I think we made a grand total of six. My apologies to the younger nieces and nephews who shall remain stocking-less, and a deeply sincere apology to my Grandpa Axtell for all the bitterness I held in my heart for not getting a pretty stocking with glitter (GLITTER!). I get it now–really.
Our stockings came out each year, sitting on shelves or at the edge of end tables. And each Christmas Eve, our little stockings were filled. Santa was nothing if not predictable–one orange, a few chocolate gold coins, a pez candy dispenser, an extra package of Pez candy, and one small gift.
That small gift was very important, because my parents had a mandate that absolutely no gifts could be opened until the entire family was awake, washed, dressed, beds made, breakfast eaten, and the necessary grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins all gathered around the tree. The exception to this was our wooden stocking gift. That little gift could be opened at any time after delivery.
Indeed, I have a very clear recollection of getting up in the midst of darkness (who sleeps Christmas Eve?), creeping down the stairs and seeing one of my sisters already up, tree lights plugged in, gift wrapping discarded on the floor and her halfway through a book– her Christmas stocking book.
Traditions don’t have to be all work though
Santa, you see, was nothing if not very very smart. Santa probably had stayed up quite late, you know, delivering all those gifts. And Santa did not like to get up early (before break of dawn) after a long night of delivering gifts, so Santa, in all her wisdom made that little stocking gift something that would keep children occupied and satisfied until Santa had accumulated an appropriate or at least a minimum amount of sleep.
To this day, Christmas is ever so slightly disappointing if there isn’t a new book or two to enjoy. My new books don’t come in my little stocking anymore. They are usually somewhere under the tree waiting for me to discover, absorb, ponder and pass on.
Traditions morph– and that’s okay.
When my mom wrote the above story, she asked me (dear daughter) to help her write an ending.
“I wish I had a nice way to wrap it up–like ‘And I still get a little stocking gift book each Christmas to this day.’ but I don’t.”
I think that’s pretty telling for a lot of us this Christmas season. She had this unshakable tradition growing up, but now its not quite the same. She looks back at these memories, but when she looks at the wooden stockings of my brother and me, they’re not the way she remembers hers.
This may seem sad, or like our family lost this tradition, but I would challenge that. The tradition hasn’t ended. I love my wooden stocking and look forward to this unique expression of my family’s past. Yet it has transformed into something that I’ve made my own. I think I would like all parents to know that this holiday season. Traditions don’t die–they transform. They create the platform which is necessary for imagination and joy to move forward.
Anyways, I love my wooden stocking. And, my mom is COMPLETELY right! I can’t find it anywhere online– not even a picture! So, we wanted you guys to know how to make your own wooden stocking. Below is all the instructions and measurements to construct your own wooden stocking.
Merry Christmas from our home to yours.
How to make your own
The first thing you’ll need to gather is your materials. Head on down to the hardware store (or dig through your garage) and make sure you have the following:
- 2 square ft of 1/4 thick Birch plywood
- Wood Glue
- Brad nails
- Saw of some kind (we used a table saw and scroll saw, but you can use whatever you have)
- A drill bit whose dimensions are just a hair smaller than the nails. Your working with thin wood, so we must pre-drill our holes!
- Paint or varnish
- A spirit of adventure and a willingness to make mistakes
I want to emphasize how this doesn’t have to be perfect. Glue covers a multitude of sins! Of course you want to try to make it as square as you can, but don’t worry if your bottom doesn’t fit. Just trim it down and do your best. Goodness knows each of ours has mistakes! Dear Husband’s was set upside down when it was drying so the “snowflakes” ran and now look like topsy turvy raindrops. Dear Son’s Santa looks like he got a Michael Jackson nose job and Natalie’s candy canes are practically miniature! No worries, the bloopers are what makes it special.
Tally Ho! Onto the instructions!
- Print out your handy dandy template (download PDF below). Trace/measure onto your wood 1 bottom, 3 sides, and 1 front stocking (you can free hand the stocking shape if you want).
- The best way to do this is to cut strips of wood (if you’re using a table saw) into 4.75″ strips for the sides. That way you can have a more even result all the way around.
- Use whatever saw you have on hand to cut out your pieces. If using a handsaw I suggest clamping the wood to a sturdy surface.
- If you have power tools at your disposal, use a table saw to cut out your strips, then cutting out each of the three sides and the bottom. We also recommend a scroll saw for the stocking part since it has weird angles & curves.
- Next is just to assemble your box! Make sure you have some clamps, rubber bands, string, or another set of hands around to help you hold pieces together.
- Make sure to dry assemble your box first so you know which way it fits together.
- Apply a light line of glue to the edge that you’re assembling, and stick it all together. Hold it together with clamps (or whatever you have) and let the glue dry.
- Once the glue is dry (or your wooden stockings aren’t shifting around, cause lets be real, who likes to wait for glue to dry?) break out that drill bit and your drill. Identify the locations for your nails, and pre-drill little holes.
- Make sure your holes are smaller than your nails, we want to avoid splitting the wood, but we want to make sure the nails don’t–ya know–fall out. If you need some more help with this, here is a video on how to make butt joint.
- I would recommend using three nails on each edge to keep everything together.
- You want to make sure each side is nailed into each other as well as the bottom.
VOILA! You have your own little stocking.
Now all that’s left to do is decorate it. You can go simple–like mine– and just use varnish, or you could make all the other kids jealous and use glitter (GLITTER!). When I made Natalie & William’s stockings I decided I didn’t have enough to do and I painted Santa. This is where you can go crazy–maybe even have the kids decorate their own.
Now all that you need is a special Christmas book to go into those pretty new wooden stockings of yours. Check out what books your homeschooling friends are trying to sell. Everyone wins! You get a great Stocking book, and your friends clean out their closets.