Nelson County-based artist Pat Echols Saunders wrote, illustrated and published her first book, “My Stocking of Joy,” reflecting on a childhood Christmas tradition she holds dear.
In Ronceverte, West Virginia, a Christmas Eve tradition for children was born in 1926. Paper bags filled with candy and an apple were handed out to kids as a special holiday treat.
Over time, stockings replaced the paper bags, still filled with goodies such as Cracker Jacks, oranges, popcorn balls, apples, candy and toys.
Growing up in rural West Virginia, this holiday tradition was a highly anticipated annual event in Saunders’s life. Her book aims to share the joy brought by those stockings, pairing vivid illustrations with her words of reminiscence.
“It’s sort of based on from the time I get up, till we go to pick up the stockings,” Saunders said of the book.
“It was a daylong event. Mainly, it’s about the anticipation of going and picking up this stocking. I think it would be good for children just to read it, and they know that when you have to wait for things, it seems like a long time, but it’s worth it.”
Though Saunders says the West Virginia town discontinued the stocking tradition around 2006, the community still commits acts of goodwill to those in need in the spirit of Christmas.
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