My dreidel earrings are turquoise and gold plastic with a purple stone in the middle. Bought years ago when my children were students and I was a teacher at the Hebrew School, they had survived my ten-year absence from teaching. I was dressing for class on the first day of Hanukkah and, after some searching, I had found my dreidel earrings. However, my Hanukkah sweatshirts, also from my teaching/principal days, were not options. One was too small and the other featured a menorah comprised of Disney characters, with Mickey Mouse as the Shamash, or center, candle. Too cute, way too cute, for my 59-year old body.
I selected a new purple sweater to wear with my jeans. Simple, comfortable and it coordinated with my earrings. My only pair of Hanukkah socks was blue and gold, so I shoved them back in the sock drawer. What a mess! I thought as I sorted through pairs and mismatched singles looking for my black socks, since I was wearing black suede flats. I was trying to dress it up a little for the Temple Hanukkah Party that would follow Hebrew School that day. I need to sort through all these, get rid of the old stuff and see what I need.
Socks would be a good, inexpensive gift to put on my Hanukkah list. The only people who would see my Hanukkah list would be my children and their budgets were too tight to afford an iPad, diamond tennis bracelet or new microwave oven. Better to list socks, shower gel and emery boards that I could always use and would not break their banks. I sighed, thinking back briefly of better, more prosperous days.
My fingers tugged on a peeping piece of purple, wedged against the side of the drawer. A pair of faded amethyst cable-knit cotton socks popped into my hand. Tears welled up in my eyes as memories of better days flooded my mind.
Our first year in our four-bedroom Colonial in Clifton Park and I was newly pregnant with our second child. Our careers as lawyers were moving along, we were making more money than we had imagined in our law school days, but mortgage, car and school loan payments plus the costs of one child and one on the way ate up most of our income. There were, therefore, no big-ticket items on the Hanukkah list in 1984, because we were saving for living room furniture and a decent dining room set. And our three-year old daughter needed dolls and books and pretty outfits.
I don’t really remember what my husband and I had mentioned to each other as possible presents for the holiday. There were probably books and CD’s. I am pretty sure my husband had wistfully requested a drill or power screwdriver or staple gun; he so wanted to be handy with tools (he never was). But I do recall one thing I lusted for: a purple, turtleneck, cable-knit sweater from The Gap. I don’t remember why I wanted that sweater. Purple was not one of my usual colors, but I thought the sweater was luscious and beautiful and would look good with the reddish hair color I sported in those days. My husband, Mitch, was pretty good about following lists so I was looking forward to that sweater. Then I spied a Gap bag in the back of the closet one afternoon and, thinking it was some gift I had bought, I opened it. Inside was a purple sweater but not the one I wanted. It was some boucle-like material and had a cowl neck.
The next night over dinner, I asked Mitch if he had finished all his shopping.
“Yes, I’m pretty much done. Just a few little things to still get, I think.”
“Oh, well, you know I was at the mall at lunchtime and I was walking by The Gap and that sweater I have on my list… the purple, cotton, cable-knit, turtleneck one…is 40 % off this week.” I smiled guilelessly at him.
“Turtleneck, cable knit…is a turtle neck the tight neck or the drapey neck?” He was such a fashion maven.
“It is the tight neck that you fold over and the sweater is really heavy,” I innocently replied.
The next day, the bag was gone from our closet.
On the first night of Hanukkah, I opened a large box from The Gap. Nestled inside was the very sweater I had wanted. Underneath the sweater, was a pair of purple, cotton, cable-knit socks. I looked up at my husband.
“The sweater was so on sale that I got the socks for you, too. It was still less than the sweater I bought…I mean… than the sweater was when I first looked at it.” I was the one with the innocent smile now.
“You’re so good to me. Thank you. I love you.” And I did.
And I still do, I realized as I held the faded purple socks in my hand. Twenty-eight years later, the socks have endured almost three decades of wear and tear. As has my love for the bargain-seeking man I married.
Both socks and man were, as he would say, “good value.”