Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Party on Your Feet

 I just got word that my story about last Christmas, "Sock It To Me," was a finalist in the Ageless Authors' short/short contest. Here's my story about that day just five months ago that now feels like five years.

 Sock It To Me!

I’d felt uneasy about spending last Christmas day alone. I’d had company the past three holidays, seeing movies with a gentleman friend who didn’t celebrate Christmas. But the relationship recently had unraveled. My friends all had made other plans with their own families.
For years after my husband had died, I’d spent Christmas watching videos, but I hadn’t felt alone. My three cats and two dogs made sure I’d had something nearby, warm and breathing, for comfort. But this year I’d be home alone. My son and daughter-in-law, both who had to work the holiday, would not be coming by for me until evening. Then we’d enjoy a late supper at a nearby Italian restaurant, one of the few places that stayed open on Christmas.
This past Christmas morning had such a relaxed feel to it, though, that the uneasiness slipped away. I’d already taken care of all the holiday preparations. No more need to address greeting cards or wrap gifts. Even my shoe box-sized apartment, for once, didn’t need any tidying. I’d already dusted, vacuumed, mopped the minuscule kitchen and bathroom. I had closets that could use cleaning, but I sure didn’t feel like taking that on as a Christmas chore.
Switching on my electric tea kettle, I’d realized I’d not left my customary “to do” list adjacent to it on the kitchen counter. I grinned, as I steeped my cinnamon teabag. It sure looked as if I were really taking a day off.
So now the day spread out before me like a true tabula rasa, a complete blank slate. How could I use the time? I considered my options as I inhaled the sweet scent of my tea. Reading? My eyes fell on the stand next to my rocking chair, where I’d stacked three books, each with a bookmark dangling from somewhere in the middle. Binge watching a TV series I’d longed to see? I glanced at my TV and at a stack of DVDs neatly piled in the side cabinet. Still undecided, I set the teacup in my sink and wandered into my bedroom.
After I made my bed I started back towards my rocker. I stopped in the doorway, staring at the three-drawer plastic storage bin where I stowed my undies and socks. Of course! It’s the absolute perfect day to organize my sock drawer.
 “When I was growing up, all I ever got for my birthday was underwear or socks. Same for Chanukah. Just socks.” 
My former gentleman friend had gazed at me, expecting sympathy. Instead, I shook my head. “Just socks? And you’re complaining?”
He’d looked bewildered.
“You’re whining to the wrong woman,” I’d said. “I’d have been delighted, enchanted, entranced with socks for Christmas.”
He looked doubtful. What’s more, he didn’t show any interest in continuing the conversation. Gradually, we had drifted apart. But I remembered that exchange this past Christmas, when I had a day to myself, home alone.
As a girl, I had exactly three pair of bobby socks to pair with my saddle oxfords. To my parent’s dismay I always seemed to have a couple of socks soaking in soapy water in the bathroom sink. Even though I’d sneak some of Mama’s bleach, I couldn’t any longer pretend my socks were truly white. They’d become dingy with age. In those penny-pinching days, I still needed to wear them even though they’d become threadbare.
When I was about twelve, as I’d sat listening to the minister’s Christmas sermon, I remember concluding that the only thing holier than this holiday probably were the socks on my feet. I’d set off for church that morning wearing the least seedy of the ratty socks. I’d tried not to show disappointment when we’d unwrapped our gifts at daybreak. Though I was grateful that I got a badly needed jacket, I’d hoped that the smaller box contained socks. It didn’t. Mama had crocheted me a new cap.
Now, all these years later, in my retirement years I can treat myself to new socks whenever I feel the whim. I can afford to indulge my fancy. A longtime collector of crystal unicorns, now I collect unicorn socks. I’ve accumulated striped socks, checkered socks, and socks that commemorate nearly every holiday except Labor Day.
“Make sure you’ve got a party on your feet,” my yoga teacher once had said, encouraging the class to shed our shoes when we exercised, but not to go barefoot. “So long as you’ve got something cheerful covering your toes,” she insisted, “karma will take care of ensuring that the cheer spreads upwards toward your brain. You’ll be party animals.” We’d giggled but we obeyed. I took her literally, so I party hearty. I’ve got owl, frog, pig and kitten socks.
So, I dumped the contents of my sock drawer on my bed. I winnowed out several singletons, tossing them in a pile of other clothing items I’d been readying for a trip to a charity shop.
“We can use single socks for craft projects,” one of the volunteers there had assured me.
I sorted the socks into categories. I had two pair for St. Patrick’s Day and two for Valentine’s, but for December I had an even dozen, including ice-skating cats, Santa, snowflakes, twinkling stars, angels. And one pair for Chanukah, blue with menorahs. Finally, I repacked the drawer and slid it back into its frame.
It hasn’t been so bad spending this Christmas home alone, I concluded. I’d taken care of a task that I’d been putting off and still had time to read for a couple of hours. Plus, I’d realized that I now had enough socks to last me the rest of my life.
Coincidentally, last year Chanukah had overlapped with Christmas. Accordingly, when I dressed for my holiday supper that evening, I chose the blue menorah pair to put on. I’ve got a party on my feet, I thought, in memory of my former gentleman friend who had wailed, “Just socks.”

Ageless Authors continues to solicit submissions for an upcoming anthology on coping with crisis. Its website can be found here:


No comments:

Post a Comment