The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 27, 2011

Christmas stuffing

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

By Lisa Shrewsberry
Lifestyles Editor

— Once the dust settles from Black Friday frenzy, after Cyber Monday carpal tunnel syndrome sets in, only the pleasant, thoughtful finale remains — stuffing the sock.

It’s the time of year Leigh Korn tells her staff daily at The Amish Barn in Crab Orchard to stuff it — baskets with old-fashioned foodstuffs, like Gingerbread Pancake mix and F-R-O-G (fig, raspberry, orange, ginger) jam, and stockings with items made with Amish pride and wholesomeness attached, from authentic vendors in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Inside their big red barn off Robert C. Byrd Drive, the Amish Barn elves are motivated to help people fulfill their last-minute purchases, the tiny details shoppers can find more challenging than large, expensive gift-buying.

“We’ll get 30-50 men on Christmas Eve, handing us money and saying, ‘I need three baskets, I have to go to Walmart, I’ll be back,’ ” she states, confident in her ability to predict spousal “likes.”

Most stocking-worthy items in her family’s store are under $10. Korn, ironically, carries corn as one of her most sought-after items: red kernel popcorn and hull-less, ladyfinger varieties. Her shelves are lined with gummies morphed into kid-pleasing shapes, like fried eggs and soldiers. For budding chefs, she recommends cooking baskets or stockings filled with freshly hand-measured and packaged spices that are “300% cheaper” than local retailers, according to her calculations.

Amish Barn stuffs stockings and baskets for patrons for as little as $10 and up to a still modestly priced $100. For those do-it-yourselfers, Korn places shelf tags as guides to assist shoppers in constructing their own stocking or basket gift.

The frequented deli-style restaurant inside the barn, serving favorites made better with Amish ingredients, like specialty grilled cheeses, hams and German-style bologna, is also a great place for a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day appetizer platter. Cheese trays with six different traditional and specialty Amish cheeses are priced less than $15.

The perfect stocking

Land’s End Classic Needlepoint Stockings, $24.50. www.landsend.com Also available in mini-stockings (set of 4, $24.50).

Origin of the Christmas stocking

Hundreds of years ago, an old widower lived in a village with his three stunning daughters. He had spent down to his last coin trying to nurse his wife back to health before she passed away. Thus, he was left with no dowry money to marry off his daughters.

The three daughters were as kind as they were beautiful and their father was afraid of what might become of them after his own death. One day, St. Nicholas himself was passing through the village, when he overheard the villagers talking about the dire circumstances of the broken family. St. Nicholas knew the old man was too proud to accept money from him.

So, in his infinite wisdom, he decided on a plan to help in a way no one would know it. Under the cover of night, he slid down their chimney with three bags of gold coins, one for each girl. He noticed the girls’ stockings hung over the mantel to dry. He put a bag into each stocking and disappeared.

When the girls and their father awoke, they were thrilled to find the bags of gold. The trio later happily married. Ever since, men and women alike have hung stockings with care, in hopes that St. Nick would soon be there — with cash!

These recommendations, for ladies, gents, kids and tech geeks, are all under $50:

Scentsy buddies — Cuddly and sweet smelling full-size plush animals, for kids and kids-at-heart, each comes with replaceable Scent Pak in delicious scents like Vanilla Cream and Baked Apple Pie. One local Scentsy representative, Alicia Kinder, loves that her little boy’s head smells like Oats and Honey in the morning from hugging up to Roarbert the Lion all night! $25 each, including Scent Pak. Visit scentsy.net for a representative near you.

Pocket Posh books — Have you ever defalcated? Do callithiumpian gatherings make your head hurt during the holidays? You wouldn’t know, unless you read Pocket Posh “Word Power, 120 Words to Make You Sound Intelligent.” From Andrews McMeel publishing, each booklet of intellectual fodder is perfect to tote in your purse or car and suck the marrow out of idle time you didn’t expect. Other volumes include: “Word Power, 120 Words You Should Know” and “Complete Calorie Counter.” $7.99 each.

Zippies — The next thing in kid collectibles, only these have “personal”-ity. Cute and durable character tags are corded to fit and identify water bottles one minute and backpacks or jackets the next. Set of five Zippies, $6.99 (and get 5 more for free!) www.zippiesfun.com

Coal Country Christmas ornaments — By local artist Carol Dameron. The first in a series of coal-themed ornaments, numbered and limited to 160 made each year. 10 percent of the selling price will go to the American Red Cross. Each is made of salt-dough featuring real coal. $10. Available exclusively at the Little Brick House Gift Shop, Harper Road, Beckley.

Supergoop — “Like a drink of water for your lips,” exclaimed one user. A balm without the sticky feel of most petroleum-based moisturizers and skipping the high-gloss sheen, so men can smooth it on, too. Contains SPF 30, shea butter and vitamins E and C. Available in Acai berry and breath-freshening mint. $8.50 each at www.supergoop.com

Spi Rollup Keyboard — What’s so flexible, you can roll it up, yet so indestructible, it’s waterproof, sandproof and kidproof?  USB or PS2 connection. $19.99 at Kohl’s or www.kohls.com

Ana Karolina “Remember Paris” headband — Dazzling, affordable creations from an on-the-rise 18-year-old designer, including her signature tassel jewelry. $48 at www.shopanakarolina.com

Cookie-inspired eyeshadows — Pre-packaged for holiday gift-giving in a chic, red-bowed black box. Good enough to eat: Midnight blue fudge topped with silver and sapphire pearl frosting. $44. vincentlongo.com

Arriving next week

May we also suggest… a subscription to WV South? If you haven’t checked out a WV South issue lately, here’s what you’ve been missing:

— A sleigh full of regional stocking stuffers, mountain-made gifts and under-the-Tamarack-tree huggers

— Hard-to-find venison recipes

— Edible marvels in marzipan

— Nonfiction stories to call up a Christmas tear or two

— A look back at the life and career of West Virginia native son Don Knotts, Deputy Fife from the “Andy Griffith Show,” through the eyes of his daughter, Karen.

Get your holiday copy or subscribe today by calling 1-800-950-0250.