s-o-c-k-s ~2022~ socks

It was nineteen years ago that we were preparing to move to Japan. It was a huge change for this Georgia girl who had never lived more than thirty minutes from the home she’d grown up in. Still, it was a wonderful experience, and we came home two and a half years later with another family member–our second daughter, our sweet T.

While living in Japan we adopted the custom of leaving our shoes at the door–something we still do today. As a fan of no shoes and flip flops, my children–two legged and four–know something is up when I put on socks, because, unless it is cold, I’m not wearing them. Socks on is my version of game on–about to take care of some business.

Still, I have a love-hate relationship with socks. Yes, I can even be sentimental about socks. I still have a pair given to me thirty years ago as a Christmas gift. I have a pair of Tigger socks my parents gave me before we moved to Japan. I have some I crocheted beads around when Aub was in second grade. And I have the inevitable, aggravating singles that I hesitate to get rid of because…..you just never know, do you? I used to make it a game for my littles to match up the socks when we’d collect enough to make it worthwhile. As teens, they aren’t really interested in that game much anymore. *sigh*

I was once talking about how I feel about socks with a friend of mine. I suggested (jokingly, because I’d never do that to our environment) that I wish that socks were disposable, so I wouldn’t have to deal with all the lost socks. “Socks are the bane of my existence,” I told her. She was aghast and told me so. She really, really loves her socks.

And that’s something, isn’t it? You can tell a lot about a person by their socks–the ones they wear, if they wear any at all. I have a friend who in college always matched her socks to her outfit–I loved all her colorful socks. My Fella enjoys wearing unusual socks. Sweet T delights in picking out socks for her Daddy every year. She has even found some wrapped up like a pizza and some like a burger, each in a special box. Cooter, on the other hand, likes his basic black (last Christmas) or white (this Christmas). My Daddy liked the basic whites too. He even used a Sharpie to label the matching ones–A and A, B and B, 1 and 1, 2 and 2, and so on. Y’all, I love my Daddy, but I’m not exactly sure what good that did except to know which one had mysteriously disappeared. Because that’s what socks do in my house. I think we have one of those special sock eating washing machines. PM me for the brand if you too would like your socks to spontaneously disappear. Truly, this is a great machine for that.

Recently, our sweet T came in and told me she knew how to say “It is what it is” in Spanish. “S-O-C-K-S.” (eso sí que es) Well, what do you know? Pretty cool.

In the past couple of years, I have found myself saying “It is what it is” quite a bit. I think it’s my way of verbal sighing. Or a way of shrugging with words. When things come along that just weigh heavy on my soul, things I don’t have control over…..so much of how I live these days feels out of my control.

And yet…..

I don’t want my children to grow up with S-O-C-K-S being their go to. I don’t want them to shrug or sigh and feel resigned in the midst of all that is going on around them. Are there things they can’t do anything about, things they can’t change? Oh my, yes. But are there things that people want us to believe we can’t change, but maybe just maybe we can? Good gravy, YES! We have to at least TRY.

It’s a fine line to balance–acceptance and advocacy. Some things in this life we have to accept, but some things we never should. I’m reminded of the Serenity Prayer–

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 
courage to change the things I can, 
and wisdom to know the difference
Reinhold Niebuhr

As I was thinking about what my word for this coming year should be, I kept hearing my daughter saying S-O-C-K-S in my mind, AND all the while I’ve been moving around a stack of mismatched socks this holiday season as I’ve cleaned and decorated. So I think it is only fitting that I’ve settled on SOCKS for my word for 2022.

Maybe it’s not so important that they match. I remember a company (Little Miss Match?) who deliberately paired together socks that didn’t match, and they were adorable. (I’m sure there’s a lesson in that for making what you have work for you, but that’s a story for another time.) Maybe what I need to focus on this coming year is knowing when to say S-O-C-K-S (eso sí que es) and when to put my socks on, ready to take care of business. Because the world needs us to do both, y’all. May we all have the wisdom and the courage to know which socks to go with when.

Love to all, and may you bless and be blessed in the coming year!

Library Love for Miss M

~a new take on an old tradition~

When my Mama left this world almost nine years ago, I remembered the joy she and Daddy found in sharing their love of reading with the young people in their lives. It started, I believe, when they learned that their favorite book we read as children, “Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm,” was out of print. The story they tell is that they wrote enough letters until it was back in print in paperback. Whether or not they truly caused it to be reprinted doesn’t even matter–it’s just a fun story about determination and asking for what you want. “The worst they can say is no,” Mama used to remind us often.

Mama and Daddy ordered the book by the dozens I think. I know they kept a box of them in their trunk so they could share the book with children they met on their Monday Stevi B’s Pizza lunch dates, or with young parents they came upon in their trips to the dentist, doctor’s office, or Cancer Center. While we were at the hospital with Mama, I was able to grab a copy to take to one of her nurses who had a sweet little girl she went home to each night. It was a tradition and has now become one of mine–so much so that my dear friend suggested, when I was talking to her about a good baby gift–“Well of course you have to give them THE book.” And she was right. Of course I did.

At some point the tradition moved into the holidays. Mama and Daddy started giving special holiday and Christmas books to their grandchildren and great nieces and nephews. Each year they sat and pored over book choices together before choosing the book for that holiday season.   In 2013 it meant so much to me to continue that tradition and choose the special book to share with the young children and friends in my life.  It’s been fun to read different holiday stories before I chose just the right one, and then there was the year that “Wonky Donkey” made the lineup. The only thing was, I realized over the years I was missing one important element. As I remember Mama sitting at the computer at the desk and Daddy on the daybed couch next to the desk comparing notes and making the decision together, I recall the story my friend Hugh shares about what he learned when he asked people to tell him about their best day. In every single one of the stories, they were with someone else. Together. (Well, as Hugh goes on to share–there was that one guy who climbed to a mountain peak alone–but then promptly called his wife to tell her about it, so technically…..yeah. Together.) Mama and Daddy did this together. I found myself running my ideas by someone else, getting another’s thoughts about the choice. It has usually been my Aunt, as it should be. She has shared her love of books with me my whole life.

As I was looking at possible choices for this year, I learned of a young first year teacher who is teaching kindergarten in the elementary school in the county where my Granny was raised.  She was asking for books and blankets as gifts for her children for Christmas, as many of her students come from homes where books are not plentiful.  I found out from her sister that this teacher, Miss M, is borrowing books from their Mama to read in the classroom.  It broke my heart that she is having to build her library on her own, on her first year teacher’s salary.  Her school is in a rural area, and for many of her children in the classroom, these books are opening the doors to worlds they have never even imagined.  I felt a nudge, and I knew it was time to change the tradition for this year.  (And if you know me, you know that change is hard and traditions are written in stone around here, so this was a very strong nudge.) 

So instead of sending a special book to my friends and family this year, I will be sending books to Miss M’s class in honor of these young people I love and in memory of the two people who planted and cultivated and fed my love of books and reading.  In case you feel a nudge like I did, I have created an Amazon wish list, “Library Love,” of books and things that would bless these children and their sweet teacher.  If there is a book you dearly loved as a child (and still do) that you’d like to share with them, but you don’t see it on the list, reach out to me and I’ll add it so you can send it directly to Miss M and her children. But there is no pressure or expectations.  All I ask is for you all to think of this teacher, whose light is shining brightly in the lives of so many, and offer prayers and good thoughts for them as they begin 2022, ready to learn and laugh and dream.  

Wishing you all a grand holiday season filled with delicious treats and all your favorite books, those read and those yet to be discovered, stacked up close by.  

Love to all. 

What Would Be Your Superpower?

Is there anything more magical than listening to two young people talking about the world and listening to their points of view?

It was the end of the day for classes. Two students sat at the table after class ended, both waiting on their dads to pick them up. They are in class together, so their conversation was easy and affable. They compared their thoughts about driving one day (at least four years away), and then talked about how old exactly you have to be. They talked about where their dads might be, since they hadn’t arrived on the dot when class was over. I was tidying up, and I assured them not to worry. As we looked out through the glass pane into the now dark parking lot, I told them about my friend’s question that helps so much when we don’t understand what or why something is happening–“What does this make possible?”

I asked them what they thought that might be. They giggled over some silly thoughts, and then we decided that this allowed us to have a good conversation together.

Immediately one piped up with, “If you could have any superpower in the world, what would it be?”

Y’all she was so quick with that question, I feel like it’s one that she thinks about a lot, bless her. Her friend sat for a minute and said, “All of them.”

I silently applauded her–okay, girl, you go ahead and ask for the world, dream that dream supersized–and then was brought back into the conversation by the inquisitor–“Did you hear what she said? She’d want all of them.” She laughed good naturedly.

“Yeah, that’s a pretty good idea,” I replied. “For your superpower to be all of them…..”

The one who had answered shook her head. With big eyes and the most sincere tone, she answered, “Oh no. Not all at once. You know, if I needed to fly somewhere…..then I’d have that ability. Or if I needed to do something else, I’d have that superpower. Just one at the time, you know?”

Bless her. I remember the Genie telling Aladdin he couldn’t make wishing for more wishes one of his three wishes. I guess that’s kind of what I thought my young friend was doing. Instead she was being really quite reasonable. Her superpower would be to be able to do whatever was most needed in any situation.

Wise beyond her years.

This day’s magical moment was me being allowed into the precious world and mind of preteen girls. Allowed to listen and talk with them and explore the world through their eyes. I’m thankful for their joyful embrace of the opportunity to just sit and chat for a few minutes in this oh so busy world during an oh so busy season. I’m thankful for the question that stirred the conversation and for the mind that genuinely wanted to know the answer. I am also grateful for a young person who saw the magic of superpowers quite logically. May we all take the time to assess what is going on, figure out what is needed, take care of it, and then let it go–and move on.

It reminds me of one of my Mama’s favorite lines. It was from the TV show M*A*S*H–Charles Emerson Winchester the Third said it on more than one occasion if I’m not mistaken. “I do one thing at a time, I do it very well, and then I move on.”

Bless inquisitive minds, sensible superheroes, and precious preteens.

May the magic of the season be memorable and long lasting!

Love to all.