A Little Bit Western


What Goes Around, Comes Around

Nov 16, 2015

Hand-me-downs are wonderful. I’m practical, and let’s face it, frugal enough to realize that clothing my children in brand new garb would be expensive, unfulfilling, and in many ways impossible to keep up with. My kids are growing quickly and they are relatively tough on their garments so when another shipment of hand-me-downs shows up on my doorstep, I welcome them with open arms. And I do what any mom would do – I drag the boxes down to my basement and add them to the dozens of other containers already in there. I have sorted and categorized clothing for two different genders ranging in ages of zero to ten years old and I’m not even certain how it all happened. I swear.

It started out innocently enough when we had our twins. I would be in town, running errands, and someone would give me a couple (or twenty) bags of boys’ hand-me-downs. “How generous!” I thought, “These will definitely come in handy.” And they did. Before long, I had enough tubs of clothes to outfit our two boys up to and including age five, for any and all weather they could encounter. I had enough clothes on hand that I wouldn’t have to do laundry for at least six weeks if I was brave enough to leave it that long. (I wasn’t).

I kept my stash of boys’ duds in case another kid came along. We did find another kid in the cabbage patch, only this one was a girl child which meant the boxes of clothes I already had stacked to the ceiling were rather irrelevant. Word soon got out that we had a little girl, however, and more boxes, tubs and bags of tiny pink clothes started arriving from rural municipalities near and far. I’d find items sitting in my unlocked vehicle in town or I would come home to a porch full of clothes. In an effort to get clothes out of their house and into mine, donors would even use travelling teenagers to courier clothing to me. What teenager wouldn’t want to transport frilly pink baby clothes to my ranch when they happened to be in the area?

There are a few side effects of hand-me-downs, including the occasional sentimental parent who stops to reminisce about when their own child could still fit in whichever item my child was busy wearing out. I nod sympathetically, because I’m starting to understand. There is also a slight risk that my kid will be unintentionally incorporated into the original clothing wearer’s family at a rodeo or branding, but those things happen.

Our guest room became the command centre for my accidental collection of gently used kids’ clothes. We are always just one unexpected guest or a new haul of hand-me-downs away from chaos, but we still encourage both. With my shipping and receiving policy, as quickly as the bags come in, something of equal space must go out. So beware, if you leave your vehicle unattended or I happen to be driving by, you too may find a bag (or twenty) of hand-me-downs that you can contend with.

That’s the beauty of hand-me-downs… My kids can pass their outgrown items on to other kids to breathe new life into old clothes. These jeans and shirts and jackets are just waiting for a fresh set of grass stains, a different scuff on the boot, a new adventure. Some jeans have holes already pre-worn in the knees, some of the boots are even pre-caked with mud and a bit of manure, but all clothes have been worn with love. Then when I see your kid making a mud pie, or helping with chores, or just being a kid, I’ll take a moment to wistfully tell you “I remember when my kids could still fit in those. It feels like it was yesterday.” Because, it really does.

 

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