It was very rare for my sister and I to shop for clothes when we were children. The joy we too in looking at clothes and finding just the right item was tempered by the fact that whenever we got some new article of clothing, my mother would say:
Put it away and save it for good.
I guess that her intentions were good, but so many lovely garments no longer fit by the time we were allowed to wear them.
Every spring, my sister Lindy and I would be fitted for a pair of new shoes – Mary Janes, specifically. I loved the black patent leather and the cute little strap that buckled on the side. I loved those shoes; however, I very seldom wore them. We must have given two pairs a year of practically brand-new shoes to the Goodwill or a “less fortunate” family Mother had targeted. Why did we make this extremely generous donation, you may be asking? It all goes back to Mother’s concept of keeping things nice and wearing them only on special occasions.
As an eight year old and a ten year old respectively, Lindy and I did not have many special occasions. We could wear new clothes for church; however we were admonished to change the moment we got back home. Wearing a dress for one or two hours a week was not going to wear it out.
Now Mother was just as particular about her own clothing. If she got a new dress, it might be months before you saw her wearing it. New shoes were the same way. I once saw a pair of black high heels in her closet that looked like they were brand-new. If you dared to ask her about them, she would say in an almost accusatory tone:
You know I am saving those shoes.
Saving for what, you may well be asking? Actually Mother suffered from Delusions of Grandeur and she was always imagining our entire family being invited to the White House or the Noble Prize Ceremony. She wanted everyone to be ready in case we had to fly to Washington or Oslo at a moment’s notice.
Needless to say, those invitations did not arrive and we were stuck lamenting our “good clothes” which, by the time she allowed them to be tried on, never fit. Whereupon Mother would begin berating us for growing and purposely not fitting into the new clothes.
Some of the best Goodwill items were a little fur muff that she refused to let me carry until I was too old for it, a brand new dress that fit neither Lindy nor me, and numerous “shrugs” which were something like light sweaters and were also too small by the time Mother decided we could try them. From all of these missed opportunities, Lindy and I have learned a valuable lesson: Never wait to wear something. Don’t put things back for “good.” Enjoy nice clothing whenever you have the occasion to wear it.
Life is not a dress rehearsal.