My stocking…


This is a picture of my Christmas stocking. It was made by my Grandma B. who unwittingly made a stocking that would become a family tradition and thus had to make quite a few of these things as the Bertossa/Murray family grew and multiplied as families tend to do.

My mom has the same stocking in the same design only her name and the year of her birth is on it and the colors of her stocking are more subdued…not a red but a maroon. Not a bright green but a forest green.

My brother’s stocking is cut from the same pattern as mine but as long as I can remember it’s been larger and longer because it’s obviously been stretched out from five extra years of gifts and use. When I was young stockings were the first things we opened Christmas day.

Mom liked to put in those chocolates that look like pieces of gold but as we got older the gifts in our stocking became something else… a chance for embarrassment. I don’t know why but it was in your stocking that you’d find the pairs of underwear, zit cream, and (for my brother but not me) condoms. We’d be 14 and sensitive and in front of our whole family and out we’d pull some horrible item and mom would just laugh and laugh until tears ran down her cheeks.

Is it weird that I love how horrible and cruel my family can be to each other? It’s just so funny. I’ll have to talk about Uncle Rob’s “big game” sometime or when dad filled mom’s stocking with huge serving spoons and spatulas to make a point and instead he just made her really really pissed so that any time anyone tried to actually use one of those spoons she’d get mad all over again at the memory of it. (There was always this ridiculous battle about the size of our serving spoons at our dinner table.)

One of my favorite memories from growing up is still the time when we were all eating dinner and my brother was so mad at something my dad had said he knocked his glass of milk over and it spilled across the table and onto dad’s lap. We all sat in shocked silence for a moment, and I think my brother was more scared than any of us at what he’d done, but then my dad cracked up laughing and said, “You little shit, you did that on purpose.” And we all completely lost it while my dad sat there soggy and wet and laughing.

It’s just like the time we were coming home from some 4th of July party and my parents were having such a huge fight my mom made my dad pull over and let her out of the car. After he pulled away from the corner I sat in the back completely silent not knowing what to say or do. We were only one or two blocks away when my dad said, “Shit,” and turned the car around and headed back. My mom was waiting there on the corner and when he stopped she opened the door and got in. A few seconds down the road she started laughing and looked over at my dad and he was laughing now too. “Well, we haven’t done that in a while.” “I’m so glad you came back. I really didn’t want to walk back to the party.”

Oh man, my family is so absurdly perfect sometimes. I love it. I love us. The older I get the more these silly things come back to me and the more I realize how lucky I am.

The holidays are coming up. We don’t do stockings anymore but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find a pair of embarrassing underwear under the tree.

What amazingly perfect timing. It’s 9:30 in San Francisco and there are carolers outside singing Silver Bells.

It’s Christmastime in the city.

Running outside now…



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