When my sister came to visit me this afternoon, she found me safety-pinning socks to a string of red beads.
"Are you no longer using the dryer?" she asked me. "Is this one of those earth-friendly things?"
"No," I said. "I'm hanging stockings."
I explained that I had wanted to put up some stockings so that I could stuff them (shh... don't tell my parents... I want them to think Santa's doing it), and that I had looked at stockings at the Target but they were all appallingly ugly, and I had looked for hand-knit locovore free-range stockings at the Farmers' Market and at Eastern Market but I couldn't find any, and then I remembered that I had a few pairs of woolen socks of my own.
"I do not want a gift from the inside of your old dirty sock," my sister said.
"It's not old," I told her, "it's rustic. Plus they're completely clean. Also it's frugal -- why should I go buy some socks that are pretending to look all woolen and rustic when I have socks at home I can use?"
"Stop calling those socks rustic," my sister told me. "And where are you planning to hang them?"
I showed her.
"The stockings were hung by the air conditioner with care..."
"Absolutely not," my sister told me. "I'm taking you to the Target."
At the Target, we followed the sound of screaming children to the Christmas aisles and found ourselves confronted by an array of gigantic stockings, three times the size of any human leg.
"Wow. These are ugly," my sister said.
"I told you," I told her.
We pawed through stockings large enough to fit entire Easy-Bake Ovens or Tickle Me Elmos or whatever people are pretending Santa brought for their children this year; stockings emblazoned with Hannah Montana and High School Musical without even the passing courtesy of pasting Santa hats on the various characters; stockings covered with fake fur or sequins or NASCAR advertisements.
"NO NO NO NO NO we are not bringing any of these things home," I said. "I'm going to leave and go hang my old socks on the air conditioner."
"No you are not," my sister said. "We will find something."
And, eventually, we did. And, although I argued at first that the appliqued snowmen and penguins were not in keeping with the general theme of the decorations (which is "live plants and flame"), I had to admit that they looked much better than my worn-out old socks.
Now all we have to do is wait for Santa.