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Sunday, September 5, 2010

More Than One Way to Hold up a Stocking

Grade School Classmates with Teacher

I burst in the door and let fly: "This stupid thing broke, so I had to hold my sock up the rest of the day!" Mom's answer was equally quick, but less irritated: "You didn't need to do that. Look, you could have just wound the top of the sock up like this and tucked it inside - it would have stayed up." Of all the lessons on that first day of school, that was the one that stayed with me.

When I began first grade that fall in 1949, it was my very first experience with school. Kindergarten was not required back then; my mother believed it to be simply a place for playing and I could certainly do that at home - so I didn't need to go. During that era, little girls wore long cotton stockings held up with - of all things - a garter belt. White stockings were for dress-up, plain brown for every day. Being a complete and utter tomboy freshly restricted to the confines of a classroom after a summer spent roaming the neighborhood barefoot, in shorts and light tops, I'm sure being forced to wear a dress and brown cotton full-length stockings put me in a bit of a snit to begin with that day. Then, the dratted garter failure during a group game and I spent the rest of the school day hopping around holding one stocking up. I still remember how embarrassed I was, although probably no one else even noticed or cared. Thinking back to that day, I have to wonder why I didn't figure out another way to deal with that situation? Mom's simple explanation showed me that there is more than one way to hold up a stocking - and that's true for many things in life. It got me thinking...

McKinley Grade School Days

Except on the coldest winter days, I was expected to walk to school. Everyone did. Because we lived about 8 blocks from school, my mother was wise enough to make sure I had a "walking buddy" from the very beginning. The kids who lived closest to me, and with whom I most often played, all went to a catholic school, so that first week Mom walked me a couple of blocks to the home of Carol, a girl I didn't know. Carol and I then walked the rest of the way by ourselves, although probably someone made sure we knew the way. For all six years of grade school, I walked each day to Carol's house, and then we went on together, adding friends to our group as our age and experience increased. We walked home the same way, only taking a different route. I really had no choice in this routine - that was the way it was. I learned that it's better not to go it alone and your circle of friends can grow.

Walking Home
Carol and I did not have a lot in common and so, despite our many treks together, never did become close friends. During our Junior High School years, we met on a corner near my house before walking the shorter distance to school. By the time we started High School we had gone separate ways. Both our mothers had insisted we get along and so I don't remember that we ever fought or treated each other unkindly. THAT, perhaps, was the biggest lesson of all.

...for attaining wisdom and discipline,
      for understanding words of insight,
for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life,
      doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to the simple,
      knowledge and discretion to the young -
let the wise listen and add to their learning.
      and let the discerning get guidance -
for understanding proverbs and parables,
      the sayings and riddles of the wise.
Proverbs 1:2-7

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