When Sex and the City first aired on TV I immediately felt a kinship with Carrie Bradshaw because I totally shared her passion for shoes.
I sometimes think of the various stages of my life in shoes. From the saddle shoes and Mary Janes I had as a little girl to the white Keds and Dr. Scholls wooden clog sandals I wore as a teen to the penny loafers and fringed suede moccasins that indicated whether I was with my preppie friends or my hippie friends during my college years.
I probably think this way because I was raised in a shoe store.
My Dad owned a shoe store. In my senior high school yearbook one of my classmates wrote that I was a “shoe shop sweetie”. Yep! That was me.
Working in my Dad’s shoe store was a great way to grow up.
On Thanksgiving Day, when most kids looked forward to the Macy’s Parade on TV and the family turkey dinner, I looked forward to being in the shoe store with my Dad. Thanksgiving day, before and after the big dinner, I helped him transform the shoe store for the Christmas season; ready to open on Black Friday morning decked out in holiday trim.
We made the store glitter with tinsel and lights and lots of artificial pine boughs and holly. The most fun was doing the Christmas window displays. You might not think of a shoe store as a Christmas shopping destination, but my Dad sold lots of things that made great Christmas gifts.
Window displays included a round mirror on the floor surrounded by mounds of fluffy cotton to simulate an ice skating pond in the snow. We displayed girls and boys ice skates on that mirror pond and sold a lot of ice skates as Christmas gifts.
There was a fake fireplace with a fake roaring fire in one window. From the mantel hung a variety of socks – knee socks and argyles hanging from its mantel … great “stocking” stuffers! There was a Christmas tree with gift wrapped shoe boxes under it and displays of bedroom slippers … also a big gift item.
My favorites were the fun bedroom slippers for little kids that were fuzzie animals with the animal heads at the toes that you could squeeze and they would squeak. Parents’ loved those.
And of course since it was winter, there were displays of boots. Everything from stylish leather fashion boots for women to sturdy waterproof work boots for men to Tingley pull on rubber boots that kids wore to school over their shoes on snowy days.
From the time I was big enough to stand on a stool and see over the check-out counter until I moved away to go to college I worked in my Dad’s shoe store.
I have no idea how much money I’ve spent on shoes during my lifetime. But I know its a lot! Certainly it was far more than necessary. I never need a reason to go shoe shopping. I certainly have never been in need of more shoes. But I think because they were such a big part of my life, they are a comfort and a connection with times past.
What is it from your past that gives you comfort? What tangible items were important to you as a child that you still take pleasure in owning and acquiring?
Nostalgia is a powerful thing. Reflections back to childhood, when we were too young to understand the complexities we face as adults, are a way of conjuring up good feelings. Most of us are fortunate to have good memories from our childhoods. But there are adults who don’t.
As adults it is our opportunity and responsibility to create good memories for the children in our lives, so that when they are adults, they will have the comfort of remembering fun and happy experiences from their childhoods.
Every year at Thanksgiving I remember the fun I had with my Dad decorating the shoe store for Christmas. These are great memories, and I can almost hear him talking to me and seeing the smile on his face and remembering his laughter as we worked together.
So when I look at the shelves of shoes in my closet, they are not an extravagance. They are the legacy from my Dad. Something I’ll always cherish. Something I will always be thankful for all through my life, not just at Thanksgiving.
“What if today we were just thankful for everything?”Charlie Brown (Charles Schulz)
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