A decade ago I helped a friend sort clothing for her mother who was moving to assisted living. You know the triage—save, toss, or donate. It was beyond her mother physically, so we’d make choices and then run them by her for approval. For me, it was a lesson in letting go and an understanding that my mode of operation for my own shedding of stuff should be the sooner, the better.
My friend and I were astounded to see a vast amount of her mother’s riches lay in slippers. Drawers and drawers of slippers, some used and threadbare and others brand new, all mixed up together. We wondered how on earth she got so many slippers and why on earth she hadn’t thrown the old ones away. I think I know the answer now.
For the past two Christmases, I have received almost my weight in warm, toasty, colorful slippers. OK, that’s hyperbole. Not my weight’s worth but a considerable number, like my weight. Not hyperbole, unfortunately. More than I have feet, even if I run as they do in the comics and end up having ten feet in a big semi-circle.
Now I have some shiny purple slippers out of material curly as unshorn poodle hair with bumpy bottoms safe for walking on slick wooden floors.
I have some red and green and black and white Christmasy stocking slippers that come halfway up my leg, the tops tied with green fluff balls at the ends of the strings so that my cats think I’m a walking toy. These slippers have no bottom bumps so I can pretend to snowboard across my living room if I want to. Sometimes this happens even without my prior intention.
I have some plain red slipper socks with chevroned white sticky stuff on the bottom, the kind that we are now given in hospitals in the neutral color of gray. These are really used and I often wear them as socks because they’re thick, good for wearing with my hiking boots, and they match a lot of my clothes.
Still in a drawer I have slipper socks from three years ago. These came with buttons and green trees sewn on the sides, the background black with embroidered snowflakes falling. A tree has fallen off one of the socks and when I try to wear them with my hiking boots, the buttons push into my ankles. I haven’t given up on them, however, because they’re still very thick and warm.
This year my step-daughter and family gave me some black fleece slippers for toasty TV viewing, along with an accompanying scarf that holds a TV remote. I will use these in the 5:30 a.m. mornings as I’m reading the paper and waiting for coffee to make its rounds stimulating my circulation to full awakeittude. I wore the slippers to bed last night and waited until my feet warmed up before slipping them off.
Tonight I’ll try another pair of slipper socks I was given in striped cream, gray, and maroon, ones that match my bedspread and rugs. I’ll hang my feet alluringly out of bed and have my husband take my photo for Sleep and Snore Magazine. I can do all those things with proficiency—sleep, snore, and model footwear to match bed ensembles.
I know how my friend’s mother got so many slippers. Each Christmas brought another pair or two from friends and family who cared about her comfort, who wanted her to be cozy like their memories of her.
I also know why she kept them all. Each pair of slippers reminded her and now, me, of those who were the givers, the ones who wished the best for me with their gifts. When I look at my slippers I’m filled with joy that so many beautiful people comprise my circle of friends and family. Thoughts of them ride on my feet across my drafty wood floors and that’s what keeps me warm. How could I throw any of them out? They are my riches.