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Monday, December 14, 2009

The Gift of Warm, Dry Feet

When I was ten my family moved into a house on the same street as my grandmother. It was a dead end street that became a steep hill about half way up. Grandma's house was close to the bottom of the hill and ours was at the very top. Having grandma's house so close was great seeing as grandma had HBO (which was a very big deal back then in the age of Star Wars and Fraggle Rock), a microwave, and spoiled us in the usual grandmotherly way.
Looking back, this was a sweet deal for us, but not so much for grandma, who worked the third shift at IBM and probably did not appreciate being woke most every day at 3pm because we didn't want to walk up the hill to our own house where we would have to do homework and eat vegetables. We wanted microwaved pizza rolls, string cheese and afternoon cartoons. Plus in the winter she would drive us up the hill rather than make us endure what felt like a sub-zero hike up Mount Everest.
Christmas was pretty convenient during our five year stay in that house. After the novelty of our presents wore off (This typically took 5 to 10 minutes for my brothers, maybe a whole half hour for my sister and I) we children would be shooed off to grandma's house where our parents would meet us once they cleaned up the ribbon and wrapping paper carnage (and likely had a cup or several of strongly brewed coffee).
Now, to be honest, I know that we were not the richest family, in fact at that point I think my dad had just started the job that put us into middle class, but I never once felt that my Christmases were lacking. We all had piles of presents and stuffed stockings. And while mom, dad and "Santa" would bring us lots of toys and games and the occassional package of undies, grandma would usually get us each one over the top gift.
Sadly, I'd be lying if I told you that I remembered all of the gifts that my grandmother gave me (with the notable exception of my very first pair of Jordache jeans). But I will always remember the voice activated RC truck youngest brother once recieved, if only because we had to endure him yelling "LETS MOVE IT NOW!" at the top of his lungs nonstop until the blessed day the batteries died.
On one particularly cold, wet and snowy Christmas, after the lasagna had been eaten, grandma handed out our presents. Each of us had an identical puffy package. We ripped into them with childish glee and each pulled out a package of socks. White tube socks to be precise.
Grandma and our parents both braced for responses that might have ranged from a polite, yet disappointed thank you to a not so polite temper tantrum.
I don't think anyone was expecting our somewhat unusual, yet genuine reactions.


All of us ripped open the plastic packages and kicked off our shoes and pulled on the heavenly cotton-poly blended tubes of warmth.
For what ever reason, whether we lost them, destroyed them or simply had not done laundry, none of my siblings nor I had any clean socks to wear so we simply went without (much to the embarrassment of our parents). Which of course meant that all the way down the hill we had snow hitting the bare flesh of our ankles and packing into our shoes.

We had foiled the plan.

"Well, I guess you won't be needing these."

Our "real" gifts were Christmas cards with a crisp new $50 bill in each, which was awesome...

But so was having dry, warm feet.


  1. I love this story. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Socks rock. And they give birth to puppets.

  3. Awww! Your grandma sounds so sweet!

  4. That is a great story. Snow on the ankles is the worst feeling!

  5. I remember that Christmas, but you did have socks. You told the tale quite nicely.