A winter family tradition: Ogre Socks

Photo of two regular Christmas stockings hanging from a mantel and one giant one 60 inches tall that touches the floor.

I remember Christmas when my 4-year-old daughter asking, after opening her gifts, “Is that all?”

I had held true to the quaint, historically accurate idea that Santa only gives gifts that fit into a Christmas stocking. All of the wrapped gifts under our Christmas tree were from family members. It was an interesting challenge to find gifts to fit into a standard Chinese-manufactured stocking. And, of course, the charm was completely lost on my 4-year-old.

That is one reason I’m uneasy with the Santa myth.

A second issue is that we don’t have the traditional fireplace that I did growing up. Santa would have to be, at most, 8 inches wide and 12 inches tall. The myth has serious problems with today’ reality.

Santa is simply not the guy I grew up with if he has turn himself from a solid into a gaseous state and then rematerialize on our family room floor in order to deliver presents. And there’s the whole problem of Santa’s toys looking exactly like the ones sold in stores. That wasn’t so much a problem 100 years ago with handmade toys.

I realize I’ve only been at this a few years, but I’m really tired of covering for the guy.

The Winter Ogre

I’m thinking of telling my daughter the tale of the evil ogre giant who comes out of the woods every winter to steal supplies from homes in our town to take back to his cave. But this ogre’s heart isn’t completely cold. He can be swayed, even appeased, with gifts. Accordingly, we hang 60-inch stockings on our wall for the month of December. When the ogre visits, his heart will melt at the gesture of our giving him ogre-sized socks to wear. And in his favorite color — red — no less! He will leave our home alone and give us some of the wonderful toys he has stolen from the other homes in our town.

Sounds good to me.

What? It’s not? Do better. There’s a comment form below.

For everyone else ready to make the switch, here are some links to buy ogre socks:

Update: A few minutes after writing this article, I received a news release about a new children’s Christmas story. Otis the Reindeer is an alternative to the evil Rudolph myth to counteract the horrible example of Rudolph striving to be like everyone else.

I quote from the news release:

“Otis, upset about Rudolph’s popularity and leadership role with Santa, attempts to fly better than Rudolph so he can take over his job. After trying to fly by jumping off a mound of snow on his¬†motorcycle, Otis discovers he’s become popular with his own special talent: extreme motocross.”

Yeah, a December ogre doesn’t sound so strange now, does it? I welcome your alternate Christmas myths that better fit modern society.


15 Responses to “A winter family tradition: Ogre Socks”

  1. KGS says:

    I feel your pain– my daughter has already started asking us to please, please have a chimney installed before Christmas. I’ve been trying to persuade her that our dog will let him in somehow, but perhaps now is the time to introduce the concept of lockpicks?

    November 20th, 2009 at 9:57 am

  2. A thought says:

    Perhaps Santa could come in person? You could team up with some other dads in the community to share the cost to rent (or buy) a nice Santa suit. Then, just schedule times where each dad dresses up as Santa and hand-delivers the gifts to the skeptical children. If your kids are especially skeptical, you could have them leave milk and cookies near the entrance and Santa could comment that he doesn’t need a chimney–all he needs is the scent of milk and cookies to know that he’s welcome–and which entrance to use.

    November 20th, 2009 at 10:18 am

  3. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    Where did you get the idea that Santa toys had to fit in the stocking? I have not heard that one.

    November 20th, 2009 at 3:44 pm

  4. adrienne says:

    The cookies for Santa practice is born out of appeasing unfriendly winter spirits that come into your home to eat your children.

    Terrifying, and yet so much more appealing to me than the current American Santa myth (which is commercialism meets self-esteem meritocracy).

    November 20th, 2009 at 3:53 pm

  5. AJ says:

    MBR, my source on the history of Christmas stockings is my second grade report on Christmas traditions around the world. I always took it as a given that from the earliest times, the tradition of gifts from Santa began with filling the sock. Why would you hang a sock to collect gifts if Santa was also going to place gifts underneath the tree? (Another issue I suppose is when Christmas trees were introduced as a tradition vs. stockings.) Anyhow, as incomes rose and costs dropped due to manufacturing improvements and marketers got their hooks into us, parents bought more gifts for their kids than would fit in a stocking.

    November 20th, 2009 at 4:10 pm

  6. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    According to the story of St. Nicholas, he threw the money into the house in a sock.

    November 20th, 2009 at 9:56 pm

  7. Penguinmommy says:

    My husband’s Brazilian family tradition is to fill shoes rather than stockings. Cute… until you think about how lovely and clean the insides of most shoes are.

    Growing up we always had an orange in the toe of our stockings; I have no idea why, but I think my myth will stem from that:

    As the seasons change people become greedy for things that are hard to find during that time of year. We pay lots of money to get things that might be easy to find in another time of year. Therefore, the magic of Christmas is the exchange of money for things we don’t really need in order to satisfy our greed.

    Oh… wait… this is Christmas all over again… at least it’s not the Elf on the Shelf… now THAT’S a terrifying tradition.

    November 21st, 2009 at 10:22 am

  8. Amber says:

    We always had tangerines in the toe, and then in-shell peanuts. The actual amount of “gifts” in the stocking was negligible, it was typically filled with candy (the m&m filled plastic candy cane was always my fave). Much like an easter basket.

    November 21st, 2009 at 11:26 am

  9. KB 111 says:

    Wow. Awesome to hear that other folks enjoyed delectable edibles in their stockings, too. My Christmas stocking always contained an apple, an orange, walnuts, and almonds, along with an ornament. (I didn’t like sugar when I was a kid, so candy wouldn’t have garnered many points with me.) I looooooved it! Much more enjoyable than tiny plastic novelties destined to wind up in a landfill two weeks later. :\

    **Poor AJ; none of us have offered up an alternate holiday tale. Anyone have a good one?

    November 21st, 2009 at 7:55 pm

  10. AJ says:

    Well obviously we need to create a new December holiday oriented around citrus fruit.

    I got a tangerine in my sock every year, but I never ate it. I had more fun seeing how much I could squeeze it, breaking down the membranes inside and make it more malleable without actually creating a rip in the rind.

    November 21st, 2009 at 8:33 pm

  11. Elizabeth says:

    One year on the spur of the moment we created a Christmas Troll to tame our unruly three year old. We were trying to have a grown-up Christmas Eve chatting and playing board games and snacking away the evening after we had put our son to bed (the only child/grandchild/niece/nephew/cousin under tweenage at that time). Unfortunately he kept coming out and running around and going crazy. Understandable of course but still annoying. So after about an hour of this we told him that there was an evil troll living under our basement stairs who got very angry when he heard the loud footsteps running around upstairs. We told him he’d better hurry and tiptoe into bed before the troll got him. He believed us and was quite concerned but we assured him that it was just for tonight and that when Santa came to bring presents he would get rid of the pesky troll for us so the troll would be gone forever by morning. He didn’t come back out of bed that night :-) We felt kind of bad afterwards and we have three children now and have never told the Christmas Troll story again, but MAN did it work great and I think we didn’t do too much permanent psychological damage so it’s okay. So anyways, there is a new Christmas story some of the more evil among you may want to try out.

    Do me a favor though and NEVER tell my kids that you once got two whole rooms worth of toys LOL. We have a fourth on the way and we would totally go broke if my kids found out that Santa brings other kids more than three presents each. See when Santa visits our house, he brings each kid three gifts, just like Jesus got.

    I do like the Ogre stocking though – that is SUPER cute!

    November 22nd, 2009 at 10:59 am

  12. Nancy says:

    I didn’t have a chimney growing up and totally believed that Santa came in through the front door. I also have never heard that gifts from Santa have to fit in a stocking. My kids blur the lines though of what’s from Santa – they think everything is from Santa even though I only tag a few gifts as from the big guy.

    November 24th, 2009 at 10:43 pm

  13. kaily says:

    soooooooooooooooo cute

    November 26th, 2009 at 3:07 pm

  14. Candy says:

    LOVING the idea of three gifts like Jesus got, however, I found a solution for your “not big enough” or “no chimney” problem…. The Magic Santa Key: http://www.chinaberry.com/prod.cfm/pgc/12100/sbc/12109/inv/12871/tid/628021801?zmam=7946946&zmas=2&zmac=40&zmap=12871

    Google Santa Key for similar, and cheaper, options that are out there…. but there’s a solution to put your child’s mind at ease about Santa not fitting down the chimney.

    November 29th, 2009 at 8:11 pm

  15. Jen says:

    I don’t think anyone ever told me that Santa’s gifts have to fit in the stocking, but i was thinking about telling that to my girls! how funny!
    I think that would make it much easeir to explain why some kids don’t get as many toys (wouldn’t santa give evryone the same amount?), and why we donate toys to toy drives.

    December 13th, 2009 at 2:18 pm