was shared, discussed, and celebrated throughout the
For ten years, seven stockings hung from our mantle.
In 2014 as the year’s festivities were on the downhill slide, I
looked up above our fireplace, and my heart and stomach
lurched. I counted and recounted. One, two, three, four, five,
six. Only six stockings hung from the mantle. After closer
examination, the AWOL stocking belonged to our newly
engaged son. In a wounded mom tone of voice, I said with
disbelief, “You took your stocking?!” His reply was
approximately, “Yeah.” In that moment, I didn’t clarify his
motive, meaning, or message behind this event, but in
following days, I tossed it over and over in my heart and brain.
It is symbolic. Yes, this youngest son and his bride will
always and forever be a part of our family. But at the same
time, we are all transitioning to a different center. His would
soon be the family that he and his fiancé commit to, beginning
during their engagement and sealed with an “I do.” The rest of
us would soon be more appropriately referred to as extended
And though my primary emotion was joy, it was mixed
with nostalgia and periodic sadness. To where did those years
since I held him in my arms and rocked him to sleep disappear?
What happened to the little blond haired, sparkly blue-eyed
boy that would go outside for hours and hit a golf ball, bounce
a basketball, or kick a football? This parenthood train is one