Santa makes an early delivery

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 28, 2006

A few years ago, after Benny and I moved back to Alabama, I got Christmas stockings for my parents.

While we officially draw names on my side of the family, I just couldn't resist getting a few extra goodies for Mama and Daddy to discover on Christmas morning.

I'd use my key to visit the farmhouse when they were away, and slip items into the stockings.

In would go small items like lipsticks, a new pair of earrings, a pretty pen and note pad and Big Red chewing gum for Mama; for Daddy, new initialed handkerchiefs, a bottle of hot sauce, soft peppermint sticks and a John Deere Christmas ornament to add to his Deere collection.

Mama would call me on Christmas morning to tell me excitedly how she and Daddy had emptied their stockings of the small treasures.

It was a quiet moment to enjoy together before the onslaught of the extended family and all the mayhem (merry, but mayhem none the less) that would follow.

After purchasing new personalized stockings for Benny and me, I gave Mama our old patchwork stockings, still in perfectly good shape, to use. They were bigger, you see, which meant more room for goodies from Santa's plus-sized blonde elf.

Nowadays, even though there is just one stocking to hang on the brick mantelpiece in the farmhouse living room, we proudly carry on the tradition.

I reminded Mama about it earlier this month.

&#8220Do you know where your stocking is? ‘Cause I think Santa has some stuff for you,” I mentioned casually.

Mama doesn't really decorate for Christmas anymore, but sure enough, that green and red stocking with the holly applique appeared on the hearth afterwards.

The stocking hung there, slack and sadly empty for a few days before that same ol' sneaky elf absconded with it.

&#8220Mama, if you happen to notice your stocking and two empty bottles of medication are missing, don't worry. I have them,” I told her over the phone.

I had to get the prescriptions filled and start on stuffing that stocking, you see.

I had already wrapped a few items (tissue paper works beautifully for small gifts, may I say) and put on some tiny bows I bought cheaply last year after Christmas.

I confess I felt very pleased with the growing assortment of goodies.

It is much more fun to open each item individually, don't you think? There's that extra measure of anticipation, the mystery of what is inside that pretty paper.

And Mama likes those stockings, trust me.

Monday: &#8220Uhmmm, honey, do you still have my stocking?”

Tuesday: &#8220You are not going to forget my stocking, are you?”

Wednesday: &#8220Are you going to bring my stocking?”

Thursday: &#8220Honey, you won't forget my stocking? (Giggles). I guess I sound like a little kid, don't I?”

Yep, a little white-haired girl eagerly anticipating what Santa elf is going to bring her.

As I write this on the Friday before Christmas, out in my Jeep the stocking is waiting, overflowing with treats from every place from Avon and Special Finds by Janice to The Pineapple, CVS and The Dollar Tree (Santa Elf tries to shop locally).

Tonight is the night Mama gets her stocking early. Tomorrow, we head to Birmingham

for some more of that merry extended-family holiday mayhem.

Tonight, it'll just be the two of us girls giggling together for a little while.

Aren't the holidays fun?

(I'll keep you posted on how everything went in next week's column.)

Angie Long is Lifestyles reporter for The Greenville Advocate. She can be reached at 382-3111 ext. 132 or via email at