Stockings Still Hung

Joel Arrington
2 min readDec 27, 2022


The rest…in the boxes.

This has been a bit of an unusual Christmas for our family. As is this case with adult children, you take advantage of every holiday you can get with each other. With our new granddaughter under the care of doctors in Denver, we were able to join her, my son, and daughter-in-law for Thanksgiving. My daughter flew in from California and our youngest daughter traveled with us. Our youngest son works in retail, so, his store kept him on a short leash. It was an amazing time that we are were so grateful for regardless of how unorthodox it was for our family.

Just a month later, here comes Christmas. Our granddaughter is still in the hospital, our oldest daughter had to stay in California, and our other two children were able to be at home with us. The stockings remained empty and the space under the tree remained void.

In these situations, when we can’t change the circumstances, we can only choose our response. When Mary and Joseph were told they were going to have a child, it wasn’t the ideal situation. When they had to travel with Mary begin pregnant, it wasn’t the ideal situation. When they got to Bethlehem and had to settle for the stable as a place to sleep and give birth, it wasn’t ideal. In all of that, they had so many different ways they could respond. Bitterness, confusion, disappointment…any number of reactions one at a time or all at the same time. However, Mary and Joseph accepted the circumstances and found joy despite it not playing out like they had envisioned the birth of their first child.

So, we had choices, too. We chose to postpone gift giving until later when our grandbaby and her parents can join us at home. We rescheduled with Santa to fill the stockings around that time, too. We chose to play games with our kids at home and virtually with everyone else. We chose to rest, work puzzles, have a turkey and all the fixings for lunch. We played Christmas music non-stop for days. We accepted the circumstances and still managed to find joy in the birth of Christ, our Living Hope.

Today we boxed up the tree, the lights, the decorations. We swept up the glitter and the fake tree fronds from the floor. We listened to our normal playlist while dusting the shelves to make way for the normal home décor. However, we left the stockings hung in anticipation of the time we will be together again.

As we face another new year, I pray that we all will choose to accept and find joy in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.