So much of my stuff is still in Washington; books, kitchen supplies, my bike, my son’s toys, his crib, and our winter clothes are all packed in boxes in my friend’s garage. At least a few times a day I lament that a cookbook is collecting dust instead of inspiring a meal, that Elijah has never played with any of his birthday presents, or that winter will, in theory, one day show up here in the south and my sweaters will be 3000 miles away. I hadn’t planned for it to be this way, but my job fell through so, instead of getting everything here with my first paycheck, I’ve had to let it sit. My new job only pays two-thirds what my other one did so I’ll have to pull our things piece by piece as money allows it.
One of the boxes in the stack is our holiday decorations. Because we don’t have a place to put it up, it’s not a high priority. It will probably be one of the last to come this way. Inside that box, however, is the stocking that my former father-in-law made for Elijah last year. It’s shaped like a train with a snowman as the conductor and is covered in sequins, each one meticulously attached by hand. Because the box won’t get here by Christmas, I bought Elijah a cheap $2 stocking at Target today. I say that I bought it because the box won’t arrive in time but the truth of the matter is that I can’t stand to think of that stocking hanging up just yet.
Chuck, my father-in-law, was a lot like a second father to me in many ways and is definitely the family member I miss the most. I just don’t think I’m ready to stare at that symbol of his love for my son just yet. Maybe next year when we are settled in our own place and this self-imposed period of reflection has passed, I’ll be able to hang it up. In the meantime, it’s going to sit and collect dust and a cheap little felt stocking is going to hang in its place. Thankfully Elijah doesn’t know any difference just yet.