Stocking Savior (#164)

My family collects college degrees. We have some BAs, a lot of BS, an MD, a JD, an MBA, a MSW, an MFA, and a Masters of Education. Big Brother added second MBA when he married. Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister married a second lawyer. I brought the most, though, when I added Andy — a Masters of Engineering AND a Masters in Cyber Security (so, HA, you Russian hackers, give up attacking my website already).

I think the only degree we missed was a PhD. Bummer.

We rock at the book learning, yes, but we suck at practical application. We’re bad cooks. We don’t know how to caulk. We didn’t realize holes for heavy pictures should be drilled over studs. We didn’t even know how to find studs (wall studs, that is).

Dr. Sis has saved thousands of human lives while killing every plant she’s ever owned.

Lawyer Sis can run a gubernatorial campaign but not a Kitchen Aid.

Don’t get me started on crafty endeavors, either. We’ve no idea how to knit, scrapbook, or sew.

Which meant that our Christmas Craft was doomed.


We planned a six-sibling Christmas at Dr. Sis and Georgia Boy’s house. My job was to bring a ton of See’s Candy stocking stuffers from California to Virginia and do a lot of dishes. Georgia Boy’s job was to serve Beef Wellington before 9 PM (he failed). Andy’s job was to sous chef with Big Brother’s Wife. Gorgeous Singing Sister and Baby Brother were to keep the various nieces and nephews entertained with Nerf gun wars.

We were all responsible for making sure Baby Brother’s new girlfriend didn’t dump him. We hadn’t spent Christmas with Baby Brother in years, thanks to his Sucky Previous Girlfriend. Sucky Previous Girlfriend had refused to meet any of Baby Brother’s family. Ever. She insisted that he leave NYC and buy her a lake house in rural Georgia. His only socialization was with her friends, her family, and her dog.

Thankfully, Baby Brother figured out Georgia wasn’t for him and went back to NYC. I think he missed the dog.

He soon met Excellent New Girlfriend. She insisted on meeting his family. Per Andy’s advice, we met her one sibling at a time. It worked. We hadn’t yet scared her off. Christmas would be her first experience with the entire sibling horde. We had to be on our best behavior.

We blew it. We fell into the classic WASP trap; assuming all other Americans were just like our white-assed, non-practicing but nominally Protestant selves. I, of all people, should have known better. When I met Chinese-American Andy, he didn’t care about a single holiday. He didn’t have so much as a Christmas stocking until my family gave him one.

As I unpacked our stockings, Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister appeared in my doorway.

“Autumn. We have a problem with Excellent New Girlfriend.”

“What? Does she hate your kids? Maybe you should tell them to stop shooting her in the face.”

“No, she’s fine, she’s got great reflexes and ducks fast,” Dr. Sis said. “The problem is that Excellent New Girlfriend is Jewish.”

“How is that a problem? It’s great. Our family could use a little more diversity.” I raised an eyebrow at her. “I think you’ve been living in the south a little too long.”

“While I was kind of hoping for Black or Muslim,” Dr. Sis frostily informed me, “Jewish is fine, you idiot. It’s just that Excellent New Girlfriend doesn’t have a Christmas stocking!”

“Oh, shit!”


We all have homemade, felt stockings. Some are more elaborate than others, but they are (mostly) sewn with love by various aging relatives. Our favorite part of Christmas is stuffing them with everything from Chapstick (from the rich, cheap siblings) to See’s Candies and Moana Loa Macadamia Nuts (from the poorer, more generous siblings like me).

If Excellent New Girlfriend didn’t have a stocking just like ours, there was the possibility that she might feel left out.

“Why didn’t Baby Brother tell us?”

Dr. Sis laughed. “He forgot to bring his own stocking.”

“So we need to make two stockings?”

“Yep. Good luck.”

“What? Where are you going?”

“I’m on call. I’ll be back later.”

So it was up to the rest of us to figure it out. Georgia Boy located some felt and told us where the sewing machine was before going off on a bike ride. Brilliant Blonde Lawyer Sister, Big Brother’s Wife, Gorgeous Singing Sister, Andy, and I spent the next few hours cutting felt while dodging Nerf bullets. We created candy canes, gingerbread men, snowmen, and Christmas trees, as well four identical red felt stocking outlines.

Dr. Sis’s new dog ran off with the gingerbread man. I retrieved him, albeit mangled. Andy used the last piece of felt to make a pair of jaws. He artistically positioned the battered ginger man over them.

“That’s going on the back,” I told him.

“It’s the best part!”

“Back,” I insisted. I looked at Big Brother’s wife. “I think they’re ready to be sewn.”

“Yes,” she agreed. I looked at her until she said, “Oh, no, I don’t know how to use a sewing machine.”

“What? But I can’t, and I know Lawyer Sis can’t, neither can Singing Sis and there’s no way Big Brother can.”

Georgia Boy returned. I thought he’d save us. Then he admitted that he couldn’t sew, either.

“Then why on earth do you have a SEWING MACHINE?!” I yelled. “I know Dr. Sis doesn’t sew anything that’s not a suture!”

He shrugged. “Might learn someday.”

Andy sighed. “Really? None of you took Home Ec in high school?!”

We looked at the floor.

He said, “It’s required in Hawaii. Hand me those stockings.”

Andy went to the machine and got to work. There was no small amount of swearing, but he stitched those stockings together.

Baby Brother loved his. Excellent New Girlfriend adored hers…or adored Baby Brother enough to pretend. Even though Andy put his macabre gingerbread man scenario front and center.

Dr. Sis returned from work and bestowed her usual effusive approval. “Thanks for not screwing up all my hard work.”

“YOUR hard work? MY husband did all the hard work. YOUR husband thinks a sewing machine is a giant paperweight.”

“I’m not talking about the stockings. I’m talking about Baby Brother & Excellent New Girlfriend. I’m the one who fixed them up, you know.”

Dr. Sis leaned in and gleefully whispered,

“She’s working on her PhD!”

Excellent New Girlfriend & Baby Brother on Christmas Day with their new stockings. (Also the dog, still stalking the gingerbread man.)

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Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

25 thoughts on “Stocking Savior (#164)”

  1. Haha, such things can be real hard to make it seems 😀
    Baby Brother’s Sucky Previous Girlfriend sounds a bit like my brother’s ex…no one of us ever met her family even though they were 8 years together! Also she only wanted that my brother would buy her a house max 5min walking distance from her parents (the area is super expensive and even the worst rundown house costs still a fortune, still wonder why the area is so expensive).

    Anyhow we also don’t have any Christmas Stockings, guess it is more a thing in the USA? No idea where else they have it except perhaps the UK. Here we put boots outside the door for St Nicholas Day and this whole putting the boot outsides the door is some old North Germand and Scandivian tradition meant for Odin…

    1. So you just exchange presents on Christmas Day? No Father Christmas (yes, definitely an import from the UK)?

      I think Baby Brother was only with her for 5 years, but we never met her. So strange.

      1. Well there is a Father Christmas (and to be honest, Santa is actually from Lapland Finland!!!) and he comes here on the 24th during late afternoon early evening to bring the gifts to the children. Usually some neighbour or just the dad dress up as Santa and bring the presents…

  2. Great story, Autumn!

    Excellent New Girlfriend sounds a lot better than Sucky Previous Girlfriend. I hope she stays around. Good for Andy for saving the day. I took Home Ec in high school too, but I haven’t used a sewing machine for so many years, I’m not sure I could even thread it.

  3. Awwww What a heart warming post!!! And I’m super impressed with Andy and his sewing skills… nothing sexier than a man who can sew.

    Your Christmas holidays sound so fun and lively, like out of a story! Love it.

  4. Andy saves the day again!!

    I have never used a sewing machine, but I can sew by hand (not too great, of course). Guess there wouldn’t have been enough time for that…

    We don’t have Christmas stockings in Spain either. Presents just magically appear in the living room when you are a kid.

    1. I can sew by hand, too, but it’s not pretty.

      Stockings are fun to stuff. The great thing about the U.S. is that we have so many traditions from so many cultures that you can pick your fav. I’m getting into the Chinese ones now!

  5. Andy knows how to use a sewing machine. Wow. That man can do almost anything. Excellent New Girlfriend sounds like a keeper and a great addition to the family. Hoping for a happy ending.

    I don’t think Christmas stockings are as big (popular) as they are in the States. And they are downright ugly here. I don’t know of anyone here who makes them, and a lot of them you get in stores are forgettable.

  6. PS, thank you for being such a great storyteller. I read a lot of blogs, but I think yours is the one that I look forward to reading the most. Merry Christmas 🙂

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