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Theme Time

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ACCORDING to the people who know such things, the Christmas stocking--that annual goodie-filled foot-slipper that hangs perilously from your fireplace or similar heat source--is a holiday tradition that reaches back to medieval Holland, when wet shoes, left near the fire to dry on Christmas Eve, would be filled by first light with all manner of nuts and candy (for the good children) and a lump of coal or bundle of sticks for the naughty ones.

This tradition has continued, and evolved, and now our modern-day stocking-stuffing events are no longer just for children, nasty or otherwise. In most Christmas-inclined households, everyone gets a stocking.

Furthermore, the whimsical diminutive oddments that now tend to be tucked inside these modern Christmas stockings are no longer limited to fruits and candy, coal and sticks. Anything goes, as long as it fits.

Certain creative people (apparently with too much time on their hands) have taken to filling their loved one's stockings according to themes. Say, a nautical stocking with Old Spice, a pirate's eye patch, little plastic boats, and lemons (to prevent scurvy), or a Time-themed stocking with a nice wristwatch, a pocket calendar, some Tic Tacs, and a subscription to, um, Time magazine. What about color-coded stockings: a black one filled with licorice, pens, Blackjack gum, and Black Sabbath tape (or Clint Black, if that's their taste) and a white one with marshmallows, note paper, socks, a baseball, and the Beatles' White Album.

Along these lines, we've asked some of Sonoma County's local gift-giving experts (i.e., retailers), to suggest a few other eye-opening theme stockings, and to name some appropriate items with which to fill them.

Jim Evans, manager of Friedman's Brother's Hardware in Santa Rosa, suggests that for a hardware stocking, one might consider a tape measure ($8.99), a lighted 8-in-1 screwdriver ($17.99), an 8-inch shower clock ($7.99), a stud sensor ($17.99), or various wrenches and pliers and nuts and bolts. As a handy alternative to the stocking itself, Evans suggests a nice plastic toolbox ($7.99), which can be suspended from the fireplace mantel, "if the nail is big enough," he says, adding, "and we'd be happy to sell you the nail."

For an intimate Christmas experience, the folks at the Sensuality Shop in Sebastopol suggest a love stocking with such "yummy things" as a pair of luxurious red boxers, in silk ($22.00) or velvet ($40.00); a copy of Laura Corn's inventive 101 Great Quickies ($25.95), with each suggestion contained in its own individual ready-to-rip envelope; or one of many Botanica Erotica edible stocking-sized delights such as Love Licks ($7.75), Bawdy Butter ($7.75), Love Dust, with a tickle feather applicator ($21.00), and Love Balm ($14.00).

According to those crafty sorcerers at Mostly Magic, in downtown Santa Rosa, a truly magical stocking would contain some classic magic tricks, including the Floating Match trick ($7.95), the Shell Game ($9.99), Nickles & Dimes ($7.95)--in which nickles are turned into, um, dimes--and one or two trick decks of cards such as the Mental Photography deck ($12.95) and the ultra-popular Svengali Deck ($9.95), capable of literally hundreds of different tricks. Add a nice magic wand (around 10 bucks), and you've got a theme stocking that would make any medieval Hollander salivate with envy.

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From the December 23-29, 1999 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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