Christmas Among the Uptight Yankees III: The Stockening


This is a story I tell every year because it is awesome. It’s not awesome because I wrote it — although I’d be pleased to have you think that way —  it’s awesome because it’s true. It’s more than just true true, it’s a true portrait of my sister, Stacey.

Here’s my favorite way to describe Stacey: My sister is like a pinata. She’s hard to get open… but there’s candy inside.

And why is she hard to get open? Well… we’re Yankees, start with that. We are from a looooong line of practical, no frills, cheap… I mean, frugal Yankees. This is our heritage: waste not, want not, thou shalt flaunt not.

But you should know that uptight Yankees have the same feelings that more effusive people do, maybe more — they just don’t fling them about willy nilly. And why? Because emotions are important, and their intensity is to be respected. Sure, I could chirp “I love you!” to everyone who crosses my path, but then how would you know you were special? It’s the difference between watery spring sap and maple sugar candy. Which is, of course, what’s inside the pinata.

Christmastime is here by golly (disapproval would be folly) so I thought I’d tell this story about one time when my sister was shakin’ down the sugar.

Once upon a time, my nephew (we’ll call him ‘PuterBoy. When he was three years old, he showed me how to set up his dad’s desktop and speakers so he could play his Lowly Worm CD-ROM. Smartypants.) Anyway, when ‘PuterBoy was about five, he became obsessed with the idea of colored lights on the Christmas tree. “Thomas has colors on his tree, the trees in the stores have colors, I want colors, I want colors, waaaaaaaah!!!”

Settling the little boy on her lap, my sister explained: “A long time ago, 1630 to be exact” (true fact!) “your ancestors sailed from England to this new land to oppress its native people, plant crops in obsessively tidy rows, wear high-necked woolens in the summertime, and generally drive themselves and everyone else crazy with their reserved natures and repressed emotions. These ancestors were called the White Anglo Saxon Protestants, and to this day we follow their customs of precise speech, reluctant hugging, and preposterously tasteful holiday displays.”

“Mommy,” said the little boy, “you talk too much.”

Stacey sighed. “Yes, I know — we do that too. But the upshot is that we have white lights on our Christmas tree because we just do, the end.”

Ah, but in her crafty little noggin, my sister started schemin’.

On Christmas morning, ‘PuterBoy awoke, ran to the tree and…

“Mommy! Mommy!”

It had all the same tasteful ornaments, but now it shone with wonderfully tacky… I mean, vivid… colored lights! Blinking, even!

“Mommy! Come see the tree!” Stacey came to look, not at the tree but at the little boy, who was positively spazzy with delight. “What happened, Mommy?”

My sister smiled. “Must be a Christmas miracle, baby.”

Little ‘PuterBoy scored any number of fantabulous presents that day, but he kept running back to the tree to watch his colored lights. Because he’s a Yankee boy. And he knows where Mommy keeps the candy.

One Response to “Christmas Among the Uptight Yankees III: The Stockening”

  1. 1 Mary Shaw

    What a fun story! And a great sister.

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