Well-Being Australia chairman, Mark Tronson a Baptist minister, tells the story of his late father, Seymour, who was born in 1917 into a farming family at Ringwood near Tewantin, on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.
Mark's grandfather was a highly respected dairyman, and he became prosperous enough to also have a share farmer on the 1400 acre property. This meant there were two houses: the homestead, (which has been preserved by family members and still looks the same as it did when first built in 1911); and there was a handsome share farmers residence (which subsequently was dismantled in 1934 and re-erected by the Tronson's at Happy Bay as the first tourist resort on the Island).
Meanwhile, Seymour as a child remembers that he and his brothers and sisters had a Christmas stocking at the end of his bed, yet he was puzzled for some years why they received a large number of Christmas presents, while their playmates from the share farmers house only ever had a small number of gifts in their Christmas stocking.
Growing up with that story, M V Tronson often wondered what little children thought about regarding the vagaries of Christmas present allocations; where maybe their friend next door gets a spanking new bicycle whereas their Christmas stocking only ever contained more modest gifts.
He tells a story in his book 'No Orchestra, No Trumpet' published in 1994 about when he was a small lad of seven in 1958. Santa was at a service station near Forgen Bridge over the Pioneer River in Mackay, Queensland. Their family stopped so the three children could line up as ask Santa what they'd like for Christmas (with parents ears 'wide open').
Mark Tronson says that two pretty girls from his class at North Mackay State School were right behind him in line, and although he desperately wanted a 'Tonker Grader' he said that he wasn't going to be seen asking for such a 'boy' item. His elder brother asked for a Crystal Set and that's what was in his Christmas stocking, but he never got his grader.
He also recalls the story Reverend Dr Peter Marshall of the InterChurch Trade & Industry Mission of Melbourne told to a Baptist Minister's conference in which he attended in 1989. Peter was raised in an orphanage and when he woke one Christmas morning, in his Christmas stocking was one gift, a children's colouring book that had already been coloured in.
Yet on the other hand, an Australian Christmas is supposed to be a wonderful time for children and parents and grandparents; but this privilege is for those families who are in a position to pleasantly afford and enjoy the traditional Christmas.
It is not as much fun for the lonely, the widows and widowers, the grieving fathers who are unable to be with their children, the grandparents who no longer have contact with their grandchildren, the orphans, the desperate, the seriously ill, the grieving and a host of others.
M V Tronson thinks we should spare a thought for 'others' in our society, and remember the true message of Christmas. He thinks the Australian Christmas stocking is an iconic image which represents a wonderful and exciting expectation of a gift, and this is precisely the biblical Christmas story.
The baby Jesus is that gift for mankind, for it was Simeon who waited in the Temple all those years who when he saw the baby Jesus said, he'd seen the Lord's 'Salvation'. Anna too was a very old woman who was promised by the Spirit of God that she would not die until she had seen the Lord's 'Redemption'.
Rather than a source of high consumerism for some and disappointment and envy for others, may this year's Christmas stocking be a reminder of the simpler but more important celebration that both Simeon and Anna enjoyed.