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The stocking experience

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Trimming the tree, baking my mom's famous icebox cookies and emptying my stocking first thing on Christmas morning were all traditions I had as a child. They were events I looked forward to all year and knew I would one day continue with my own family. Then I married a Ugandan.

I'll never forget our first Christmas as a married couple. "What's with the socks," I can still hear my husband asking. Socks? Then it clicked. Patrick was inquiring about the bright red stockings that hung on the wall between the living room windows. "Oh, those are stockings," I replied. It wasn't until I explained their purpose as repositories for small gifts from Santa that I realized why his confusion remained.

Growing up in Uganda, Patrick celebrated Christmas, but in a much different way. It was simpler, much simpler. One thing I loved then and continue to cherish today is my opportunity to introduce Patrick to new things, things as simple as stockings. So, thrilled to be able to share my favorite traditions with him, that year I gave Patrick his first Christmas challenge - to fill my stocking.

Needless to say, come Christmas morning, I discovered that my plan to immerse him into the seemingly strange world of stockings was less than successful. I looked at his, filled to the brim with candy and numerous other trinkets he never knew he always wanted. Then I looked at mine. It lay there, flat on the wall. "Honey," I said. "I thought you were going to fill my stocking." He was quick to respond, "I did. Look inside."

Confused, I took my stocking down and doubtfully reached in, not knowing at all what to expect. Sure enough, it wasn't completely empty. Deep in the toe of my giant red sock were two sets of earrings. And they were beautiful. I couldn't help but smile and thank Patrick for trying. So while he never fully grasped the idea of stockings, he was sweet to play along and appease his nostalgic wife. For this, I was and continue to be, grateful.

It’s been six years since that first Christmas. Our stockings now hang in our living room doorway, much like they did in my home growing up. And while I gladly accept Patrick’s help with a handful of tasks, filling the stockings is one I’ve adopted as my own. Because of him, the “socks” as he still calls them, hold more meaning to me than they ever have.

If you liked this, also check out: My month abroad - experiencing Africa; Cultural differences and an exciting marriage; and Where you live shapes who you are.

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