In our years here in Costa Rica, we’ve largely stopped doing the whole “present thing” — it started our first year here when we really didn’t know where to find anything, and we found that we’ve rather enjoyed this 6 year break from the hustle and bustle of shopping.
However, we do some small gift exchanges and one that has become a favorite of ours is the last work day of the week before Christmas with Sully (Mom’s caregiver) and Carmen (our housekeeper). We had an especially fun time this year because we hung stockings and had a great time watching them get “lumpy” as time went on.
This stocking-fest was partly prompted by my finding the stockings of my childhood — mine and my two brothers’ — and we decided to just go all out. We had our own that we’d brought down from Maine, plus two beautiful hand-knit ones that our dear friend Jill made for us, and now the three slightly-tattered felt ones from a lifetime long ago.
So, since we are three (me, myself, and I? No, guess that’s me, David, and Mom), we used the three from Maine, the two hand-knit ones were perfect for our two gals, and the genders on my childhood stockings match the current gender make-up of our critters, so there you go. Logical stocking assignment.
We really put them up initially primarily as Christmas decoration, but David came home one day from errands with several cute little gifts to put in Carmen’s and Sully’s stockings. A few more things were added in the coming weeks so we thought they would have fun “opening” them.
Then, to our amusement, our own stockings started looking lumpy. Hmmm… stocking filling is apparently contagious. I also caught David putting things in the dogs’ stockings as well (although poor Domino, the cat, seems to have gotten short shrift here in the stocking category since hers in now hanging alone on the stairs, as flat as it was the day it was first hung. Where are the mice when you need them?!?)
Now, speaking of the dogs having things in their stockings, note in the picture above that there’s a golden retriever on the staircase behind the stockings? Actually, here’s a better shot —
It’s not an accident that Yankee happens to be sitting on the stairs right there. He’s guarding the dog stockings! Our neighbor-dog, Spocky, came down to visit earlier today and sniffed the dog biscuits right out in those stockings. Sully looked up just in time to find Spocky on the stairs, starting to gnaw on the stockings in hopes of getting at the goodies. The stockings are only slightly worse for wear now, but Yankee wasn’t taking any more chances. He sat there guarding them until it was time to take them down for our celebratory lunch!
So, today is the last workday before Christmas (they’ll take the actual paid holiday on Monday) so we all gathered at the dining table for lunch. The stockings were cut down from the stairs and laid at each place (after a bit of confusion over which ones actually went where!) as well as a number of other wrapped gifts.
Very patiently — we are all adults, after all! — we ate our lunch first, then plates were cleared and Sully and Carmen had lots of fun pulling the little trinkets out of their stockings. It seemed that Carmen and Sully had conspired together to buy things for our stockings, as well as a wonderful Costa Rica photo album for us to fill with our many great pictures from our years here.
We each had a big piece of one of Costa Rica’s candy specialties — “turron de mani” or peanut nougat. My stocking also had some luxurious body lotion (which will be nice here but especially welcome in the dry air of Salt Lake City) and a lovely necklace. David had a Costa Rica tee-shirt and the all-important visor. (They’d given him one last year since he’s very light sensitive and often needs it to comfortably read in the bright daylight, and they’d noted that his had gotten pretty ratty over the past year.) Mom had some wonderful warm socks and undershirt — both things she desperately needs! — so it was just delightful all around.
We’d also enjoyed gifting Sully and Carmen each with small treasures from our own things that had special meaning — one a porcelain and silver tea set for Carmen that her sister Ligia had really loved (Ligia had been our original housekeeper here in this house and her passing is how we came to have Carmen) and for Sully an unusual set of tea mugs that had belonged to my parents. They were always special to me, just a part of my world growing up, and she had greatly admired them recently when we were packing.
Sully and Carmen exchanged gifts with each other as well, and the entire thing was a lovely experience. We miss being away from our family at Christmas, so having our Costa Rica “family” to share the holiday with makes it all the more special. This absolutely, positively goes into the “things we’ll miss” category, bigtime!