This Christmas, for the first time, there will be no stockings hanging from my living room mantle.
Don't reach for the Kleenex.
Every family has its traditions, and filling the stockings has been a long-standing one in my household as in many others.
But there's something new in our family this year, and we're making adjustments.
Actually, there's someone new.
Lydia Noel Moore entered the world on Aug. 8. While she wasn't born on Christmas Eve, as I was, her parents chose to give her my middle name. And my husband's, daughter's and father-in-law's.
In our family, she is the fifth Noel.
It's just a coincidence that my husband and I have the same middle name. We discovered this on our second date. He uses the more masculine pronunciation but spells it the same.
He, too, was a December baby, but he actually was given his father's middle name. The "Noel" in my name is just because of my birthday.
Traditions have to start somewhere, I guess.
But sometimes they need alteration.
I already had begun shopping for the usual stocking stuffers when I mentioned to my daughter that I needed to buy or make the baby a stocking.
As day or so later, after thinking about that, she questioned whether it was a good idea. Lydia would have a stocking at their home, she pointed out. It wouldn't matter to a 4-month-old, but would multiple stockings be confusing in her Santa years?
At first, I was thrown. Surely we could get around this. And I couldn't very well fill stockings for a bunch of adults and not this beloved child.
Then something occurred to me. Filling stockings for adults is not much fun anyway.
I realized I had fallen into a rut, buying the same candies and favorite lip products year after year. Everybody also would get socks, just to take up space I couldn't fill with anything more imaginative.
Filling the stockings always had required time and money, but missing now were the squeals of delight on Christmas morning. Adults appreciate socks and such, but polite thank-you's are a poor substitute for squeals.