Monday, December 04, 2006

The Special Stocking by Robert Shapiro and Eileen Meyer

Once upon a time there was a stocking. It lived, at least once - sometimes twice a week, on a little girl's foot. Of course there was another matching stocking too but this one particular stocking had a definite sense of personality.

The little girl, whose name was Mindy, noticed it too. When she had that stocking on her right foot she felt like she could dance for hours; she could jump, and she could do so many more amazing things. Even though the stocking on her left foot looked exactly the same, Mindy didn't get that feeling from it. She always wondered what that was about.

One day the stocking seemed to want to lead Mindy someplace and even though she couldn't understand it, she decided she would go anyway. She wasn't really sure whether it would be alright, so she took her big sister Karen with her.

Now Karen knew that her little sister Mindy was very bright and very imaginative so she walked along with her and didn't press Mindy with any unnecessary questions.

Mindy kept walking decidedly in the direction where her stocking wanted to go. She turned a corner and stopped. She paused for a moment. Then she walked forward again, turned another corner, and then stopped again. Then she turned and faced toward one particular house and said quite assuredly, "It's in there."

Karen said, "Gosh, I don't know who lives in there. Do you know who lives in there?"

Mindy said, "No, I have no idea who lives in there but it seems like a cheerful house. It's all decorated very brightly for Christmas."

Karen agreed, "Yes, it's quite merry looking!"

Mindy motioned with her eyes and said, "Since you're with me - maybe it would be okay?"

"Yes, we'll just go up and ring the doorbell and see who answers," said Karen, who by this time had grown quite curious too.

They rang the doorbell and a nice old lady answered the door and smiled warmly, "Hello children." Then she looked down at Mindy's stockings and said, "Oh, I see. You're wearing the Christmas stocking."

You notice she didn't say Christmas stockings - plural. Mindy responded quizzically, "Is that what it is... a Christmas stocking?"

"Oh yes," said the older lady. "I'd know that Christmas stocking anywhere. Where did you get it?" the older lady asked.

Mindy said, "Well, my Mom got it at the Goodwill store for me."

"That's where it went," the older lady seemed relieved at having solved her mystery, but Mindy and Karen were growing even more curious. "Come in, why don't you children?"

The children hesitated because this was somebody they didn't know. "It's alright," she said, "we'll leave the front door open. My name is Mrs. Henderson, but most of the kids call me 'Grandma Henderson' in this neighborhood. C'mon in!"

"Okay," the children said, feeling very safe and welcome. Right away inside they spotted Mrs. Henderson's beautifully decorated Christmas tree, and there behind the Christmas tree was a row of stockings hung on the mantle. But there was something funny about this row of Christmas stockings. They were all neatly hung, looking so perfectly aligned, and then... there was a blank spot. Something was missing.

Mindy had to know, "Mrs..., I mean... Grandma Henderson, what goes in that space?"

"Why, the Christmas stocking of course!" Mrs. Henderson replied.

"Oh," Mindy said, cautiously pointing to her right foot, "Do you mean this stocking? ...because, well, it makes me so happy and I... I feel so good when I'm wearing it."

Mrs. Henderson smiled knowingly, "I do understand, dear, and this is what I'd like to do. It's up to you of course, but I think it would be nice if we could hang it up there just on Christmas Eve. Do you know why?" she asked enthusiastically, "Because that stocking is a magical stocking." Mrs. Henderson's eyes were happy and wide, "Do you know that stocking on your right foot helps to bring all the presents and treats to little boys and little girls all over the world just by hanging over there in that spot on that mantle? That's why it's always so happy and so peppy!"

Mindy was beginning to feel like her mystery was solved too, "Ohhhh, I see. I guess that would be alright."

"Oh, good!" Mrs. Henderson beamed.

And the next day, after having washed and dried her socks, Mindy went over to Mrs. Henderson's house - this time with her Mom because her big sister Karen had to attend Christmas play practice. Mindy and her mom knocked on the door where Mrs. Henderson happily greeted them and invited them in. Other children from the neighborhood had gathered there to participate in the annual event too. Mindy's mom watched proudly as Grandma Henderson and Mindy carefully hung up the Christmas stocking in its proper place. And soon it was as if the whole house changed.

There was a sense of merriment and joy and happiness that no one had really noticed before. Oh, it had been beautifully decorated before, but now there was a very real feeling of magic, excitement and anticipation that filled the air and filled everyone there!

Mindy still felt curious, "Was this your stocking, Grandma Henderson?"

"Yes," she replied, "My friend was here cleaning up a while back and she didn't realize that it was a very special stocking. She took it to the Goodwill with a bunch of other things that I had that I wanted to share with other people. The children of the neighborhood have been very sad indeed. They look forward to helping me decorate and hang the special stocking every year."

"Oh," said Mindy thoughtfully, "so maybe I'm not really supposed to have the stocking."

"Oh no," Mrs. Henderson was very clear, "I think it's fine that you have the stocking now. And do you know, it'll never wear out? It's very special and very strong, and the matching stocking that comes with it is also very strong. I think you're the perfect person to have it, because some day... you know I'm getting older, and some day... you could become the person that hangs up the Christmas stocking every year so that all the little boys and girls all over the world will have all the presents and treats they want in their stockings." The children clapped and cheered because they agreed.

"Do you think I really could?" Mindy asked timidly.

"Oh yes, not only do I think you could, I think you're perfect for it!" said Mrs. Henderson.

As it turned out, from that day forward, Mindy went over on Christmas Eve to join the other children at Grandma Henderson's house where they would all hang up the stocking and celebrate another wonderful season of giving and good cheer. Until one day when Mrs. Henderson's house was sold because her family invited her to live with them in another small town a few hours away.

So now every Christmas, Mindy and her family invite all the children in the neighborhood over to hang the special Christmas stocking on Christmas Eve. This is so that all the little boys and girls all over the world will have all the presents and treats they want. And some day she's going to pass it on to another little girl. Maybe that will be you?