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2.21.08

23:29

Green Socks and Ham

As I sat down at almost midnight to eat the greasy breakfast that Dean had brought home twelve hours earlier, I noticed with horror that one of my socks had a hole. Jackson's birthday had been a near perfect day until that moment. Dean and I were tired, yes, but we had pulled off our first kids' birthday party and managed to send all of the little hippos home happy and full. One glance at my socks, though, and I knew that the day must have been more work than I had realized.

These weren't just any old socks. These were socks I had owned for 14 years. They were a gift from Janette's Grandma in Grade 11, the Christmas her family let me tag along on their Disney vacation. I'll never forget her welcoming voice, sharp and full, barreling into the air the moment we pulled up in our caravan. I was shocked by how different she sounded in comparison to Janette's own soft spoken mother.

The socks themselves were given to me in a stocking that her Grandma had put together for me so that I wouldn't feel left out. They were green sweat socks with Donald Duck on the soles and yellow tube stripes around the ankles. They sound as ugly as they are, and yet I was surprised and pleased to get anything from somebody else's relative. When she died I took comfort in the fact that I still had the socks. Each time I put them on her voice came alive for a moment or two. This grandma was wee, but her voice made up for her legs, and I can almost hear her shouting right now, "Janette! Your friend's got a hole in her socks! Janette! Sammy!"

Counting back fourteen years, I began to think about how far the socks had traveled. First from Florida back to Ontario and then back and forth from residence to residence through the university years, across the country to Vancouver and back, and even to the Okanagan. Including all of the times I moved back to the Lowder Place nest the socks had held up to at least 13 moves. Though I don't remember ever making the conscious decision to pack them, they somehow made the cut year after year. And on Sunday night, through the little hole that appeared, the socks themselves seemed to be raising some questions. Why were they so important? What did they represent for me? Comfort away from home, perhaps? Other people's relatives? Warmth. Vacation. Freedom. Friendship. (Grade 11 has always gone down as my favourite year of school.) Did the socks somehow help me hold onto my youth? Did I fear that I might never get back to the Magical World of Disney?

Whatever the reason, the thought of throwing out the socks because of a single hole (as I would normally do) seemed completely absurd. I knew I could use my home ec skills to keep the socks in my collection for a few more years. But what about the other socks in my drawer? Surely a few pairs from my past could have been repaired instead of tossed over the years. We've been trying to do our waste not part for the world, but I had never thought much about socks. If this green pair could last me 14 years how long could the other ten pairs in my drawer last? Could I possibly live the rest of my life with just the socks I owned?

After writing those words, I took a break from this post to think about the challenge. I didn't want to publicly commit to a sock saving project if I wasn't prepared to see it through. But these socks really did seem to be crying out to me, and with a voice as powerful as Janette's Grandma's, I simply couldn't ignore them. Pondering the idea, I visited The Writer's Group (my daily writing distraction) and somehow stumbled on a link to this incredible post.

God knows I've purchased my fair share of black waitress sneakers. But was it really Patry Francis's shoes that were talking to me in that post? Am I meant to read her book, or was it the socks challenging me to take a similar oath? While I can't know for sure how these socks got their hole, or why it happened on Jackson's 4th birthday, or why I found that post on a day that I needed it most, I know from experience that God's little scavenger hunts lead to life changing treasures. And so, in honor of Patry Francis's hope, both past and future, and as a way of preserving the environment in hopes of one day requiring a few trees, I commit to not buying a new pair of socks until I too get a book published.

Could you live with just the socks in your drawer until your own secret dream came true?

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