I have this friend who likes to mail gifts for no apparent reason. I discovered this a few of years ago when I received an antique teacup in the mail. She didn’t ‘fess up for two years that she had been the one who sent it, even after I posted a photo of it on Facebook.
Since then, she has sent me many miscellaneous and, at times, downright weird things. This is fine with me. I speak her humor language.
There was the hot pink rabbit’s foot with an accompanying note, “Because everyone needs a rabbit’s foot.”
There was the shopping tote that folds up into a credit-card sized pouch.
There was a comical coffee mug.
There were countless odd cards and postcards.
And just lately, there was a package of pink and white fondant mice.
That one really had me scratching my head, so when I saw my friend today, I was about to ask her about it. Before I could, however, she blurted out, “So tell, me, what is the deal with the fondant mice?” It turns out she bought them on a recent trip to England, simply because she thought they were odd. Since I am British, she sent them to me, thinking I would understand them. However, since I haven’t lived in England since I was five years old, I had forgotten about them and had nothing to offer her by way of explanation. A quick search of the Internet revealed four things: 1) they are more commonly known as sugar mice; 2) they have been a traditional Christmas treat for British children since Victorian times; 3) there is a song named “Sugar Mice” by Marillion, an 80s British band and 4) sugar in even moderate levels is toxic to mice.
The thing is, it didn’t matter what was in each package. What mattered was that I got mail that was not a bill or a request for a donation. It mattered that someone had thought about me long enough to purchase something and ship it, even though she was probably going to see me the next day. It wasn’t the content – it was the extravagance of the gesture.
So each piece of unexpected mail, each surprise package catapulted me back to childhood days, when Christmas was still a miracle and I knew I could count on happy things in wrapped boxes at least twice a year.
A week after the fondant mice, one more box came. This one contained four small packages wrapped in Christmas paper, and I debated whether to open them right away or put them under the tree. As I dithered, it suddenly hit me – herein lay the answer to my yearly Stocking Conundrum.
Those of you who aren’t mothers may not be aware of this problem. You see, the person to whom the responsibility for the Stuffing of the Stockings at Christmastime falls is generally the mother. This is fine, because the mother is usually the one who knows what to put in the stockings. However, the one giant loophole in this arrangement is that the mother also has a stocking that needs to be filled, but it often doesn’t occur to the rest of the family that THAT stocking is their responsibility. So on Christmas morning in these households, everyone happily digs into their stockings, oohing and ahhing over the trinkets within, and the mother sits and smiles, taking delight in their expressions, and all the while her inner child is quietly whimpering inside her because there is nothing in her stocking.
And since this is the mother, this means she comes stocked with extra emotions, so it’s a little hard to compartmentalize. She is good at putting herself last and rising above and faking a smile and all the things that come along with motherhood, so she probably won’t say anything. But she will feel it, even just a little.
Marla Cilley over at the Flylady has come up with a solution to this Conundrum. She tells her followers to buy themselves some stocking stuffers, early in November if possible, and to wrap them and put them in the stocking. By the time Christmas time comes around, they will probably have forgotten half of what they bought, and at least they will have something to unwrap when the time comes. Does this sound childish? Perhaps. But if you haven’t sat through a stocking session with an empty stocking, you might not really be an impartial judge. And the weird thing is, it works. It doesn’t take away the sting completely when no one in the family has thought about Mom, but it does help. Sometimes Mom just needs to give herself a high-five, and considering that Christmas is like a part-time job that she loads up on top of her already busy schedule, it’s as good a time as any to do it.
The day that I receive this box from my friend, however, I suddenly saw a new solution. How about we Moms give EACH OTHER a high-five? How about we all take care of each other’s stockings? How about we confess to each other that yes, it is a bit of a disappointment and yes, we would welcome even a cheap pair of fuzzy socks and a facial mask from the dollar section, because then we would feel a little more cared-for come stocking time.
Think of the fun in this — if you have a friend whose home you visit regularly, you could sneak a little something into her stocking the next time you’re over there. Or you could mail her a couple of little things with a note that says “for your stocking.” You could even make it anonymous if you wanted.
But then here’s another thought – this doesn’t need to end on December 25. We can stuff each others stockings all year round.
Of course, you may want to take that euphemistically. Or at least wait until your friend takes them off first.