We hang them with care. Why not fill them the same?
When it gets down to holiday crunch time, stockings are often the last thing on our mind. Especially when there is so much stuff that's "good enough". Gift cards, headphones, candy, and make-up . . . it's easy to let them do the talking. But there is room for more in our stockings, and there is a good reason to put it there.
If your family is anything like mine, you probably hang stockings with care—and think of what you will put in them as little as possible. But I've been thinking more about stockings lately, and stockings are a good way for parents to give their children something like a rosary or a prayer book, ensuring that Christmas morning, with all its reverent meaning, includes a gift of Christ for our lives for use beyond Christmas day. It shows that we intend to bring Him with us, and that's an important thing to reaffirm in your home.
It's also a good way to make sure that everyone is getting the same kind of gift, making a sort of theme out of it (read: Catholic things) while still giving everyone something different according to their individual personality and taste (read: something not lame that they will actually like and use).
Why not include such gifts under the tree? What is it about stockings that's so conducive for religious gifts?
First of all, under the tree is great for religious gifts, too. Fine jewelry, nice rosaries, home goods, etc. Individual presents should be wrapped and put under the tree, but what we are talking about here is theme-gifting something for your entire family. That means they should be opened in unison. Cue, stockings.
Opened together, it's the perfect atmosphere for meaningful theme-gifting. A communal atmosphere means no one feels singled out (why it is me who is getting this book on how to be more holy?) or left out (why didn't I get a prayer book, too?).
The message here is: these gifts are so important that they should be gifted in the right manner so they can be received in the right manner. Stockings provide a way for you to make sure that amongst the sea of presents, everyone in your family gets something for the soul (without saying: please work on your soul on account of the fact that everyone here is worried about it).
Here are 10 Catholic Stocking Stuffers Under $10 to get you started. Small things with layers. Deep down, these are the things we all want our homes to be about.
As an aside, you don't need to spend money to give something spiritual and sincere in your stockings. You can make something, or you can write something. But as long as you are spending money on the other stuff, you might take a moment to consider making a small investment of this kind.
I've found that when it comes to the ones you love the most, gifts for their faith can be more effective than talking at them about whether or not they have faith. Sometimes what helps people find their faith is your implicit assumption that it is already theirs.
So, whether you make one or find one, what matters here is that a naturally materialistic event (the unwrapping of presents on Christmas morning) also includes something that matters. Because faith—and family—matter . . . and a rosary in a stocking is a small way you can look out for yours.
Merry Christmas. However you choose to fill those stockings . . . whatever you do, don't forget the mini Twix. That would be cruel!