The Christmas Orange
by Fran Hafey/Mysti
In the country, on a hill in Virginia, there was a family of seven.
It was a small farmette amongst the trees with plenty to do. Many times for the holidays, gifts were hard to come by. The mother was a wonderful seamstress and she made beautiful dolls and clothes for the children. There were only a few gifts for each child, but the parents did their best. Not one child ever opened those gifts and asked, "is that all?" They understood about love and giving, and were always pleased.
The Christmas tree was an important part of the Holidays and decorating it was such fun. They knew each ornament, many handmade, were special and they each had one with their names on them in sparkly glitter.
The tree always stood in the large picture window in the front room where anyone driving up could see it. There were not very many neighbors, but I am sure some saw it from afar.
Sometimes old things were turned into new. Old sleds were painted and polished to have more years of enjoyment. Stuff toys cleaned and given new ribbons, were loved and hugged just as if they had came from a big store. There was plenty of food, turkey and ham, cookies and cake with special treats and laughter.
After the gifts were opened and under the tree was bare, there were still the stockings full of surprises. This was always the best part, because the stockings were long and filled to the brim with special treasures hidden inside each one.
No matter what, each year in the bottom, where the toe is, there was an orange. Sometimes you would hear, "Oh great, an orange, not candy." Each year, there was that orange, always in the bottom of the stocking.
Years went by and all the children married and moved away, and when Christmas came again those children carried on many traditions that had been shared with them. The tree, the gifts, candy and cookies, ham and pies and the ornaments with names on them, were just a few.
Now as adults, the understanding of just how much work went into the holidays became apparent. The wrapping and decorating, the baking and shopping, and buying those treasured gifts for the stockings.
I'll never forget those years with my own children, waking up early on Christmas morning. Too excited to sleep and the tree so beautiful with packages all around it in its glory. They would go through the ritual of running in and gasping with sparkles in their eyes. There were gifts from Santa, from Granny and Granddad and a few things from Mom and Dad too.
The stockings were saved for last as always, with the candy and special gifts spilling over, but always in the bottom of the toe was an orange, no matter what other treasures they held.
One year, the children asked their Mother, "why is there always an orange in the bottom of the stocking?" The Mother replied,
"Each year at Christmas as I grew older, I found out how hard my parents worked to make Christmas nice for us. They would sometimes start planning it in the summer, just so things would be good for us. Trying to make a little extra money so the bills could be paid, but also to have extra so we would have presents and treats. It was important to have a tree and a good Christmas meal. We would go to church on Christmas Eve night and receive a gift of candy after the service."
"But what has that got to do with this orange?" the children asked.
Their Mother said, "The gift of an orange in each of our stockings came to mean something very special, because no matter what, if we didn't have lots of toys and brand new store bought clothes, we always had my Mother's hand made clothes, which were even better, and that orange in the bottom of our stockings.
That orange is a symbol of our love, of good times and bad times, and how rich we were, no matter how big or small our Christmas. Just being together and having a tree was very special to me, even if it came from our woods and not a Christmas tree lot. When money was tight or plenty, this orange stood for the old fashion days of Christmas's past and more to come.
It stands for a time when fresh fruit was hard to come by and people relished it. To have fresh fruit was a sign of being rich, but for me it stands for being rich deep in our hearts with love, the joy of giving and thinking of others. That's why each year there is always an orange in each stocking."
The children never looked at that orange in the bottom of their stocking the same again. When they grew up and had children of their own, each year after the presents were opened, they would save the stockings for last.
It was the best part, because that orange is always in the bottom of the stocking to remind us of love and how truly blessed we are. The tradition still lives on today.
Copyright: Mystickblue © 2000-2011 All rights reserved.
Revised and updated in November 2010.