by Pat Bean
“Hey Mom, I brought back a surprise for you from Afghanistan,” was the message I got from my oldest son, D.C. I was in Idaho at the time, and the only thing I wanted from Afghanistan was my son, home, safely.
Later, I wondered what the surprise could be.
“It’s a long green thing,” my daughter-in-law, Cindi, hinted.
It took a few minutes, but then I burst out laughing.
“Oh, you mean his Christmas stocking,” I said.
This is a thing that goes back many, many years, back to the time when my son was a pre-teenager. It was a time when money was in extremely short supply in our family, and so our Christmas stockings were just that–everyone’s own clean sock. And the kids always found the biggest ones they owned to hang up.
Now D.C. always was an ingenious kid. He chose his long Boy Scout knee sock, but decided it still wasn’t big enough. So he cut the foot off one of the socks and sewed the rest of the stocking to the top of the other one. It was such a brilliant idea that he didn’t even get punished for the deed. I think I filled it up with oranges that first Christmas.
In the meantime, as kids do, D.C. grew up, joined the Army, married, had kids of his own and made the military his career for the next 35 years. It was during one of his three tours in Iraq as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot that I came upon that long-forgotten green stocking.
As a joke, I filled it up with goodies like smoked oysters, canned chili, Vienna sausage, nuts, toy cars, hand warmers, a Pez dispenser and a heck of a lot of other stuff and sent it to him that year for Christmas.
He’s made sure the stocking was returned to me every year since.
I guess in thankfulness for my son’s safe return from the war zone, his upcoming retirement and all the laughter that stocking has provided the family over the years, I’ll have to fill it up yet one more time.
Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives and travels the country in a small RV with her canine companion, Maggie. She is passionate about writing, birds, books, nature and travel.