91: Happy Feet

91: Happy Feet

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom

Happy Feet

Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.

~Henri Matisse

Growing up, I didn’t know anyone who shopped for Christmas in July, but Mom did because she was creative, clever, crafty and thrifty. I enjoyed tagging along to watch her find bargains galore, which consisted of various craft supplies, fabrics, trinkets and metal tins. Mom’s motto was: “Making handmade gifts is giving from your heart.” After we finished shopping, Mom treated me to lunch and showed me all the new patterns and craft projects she planned to make for Christmas gifts.

The making of Christmas gifts always began the day after Thanksgiving. Night and day the steady rhythm of Mom’s sewing machine echoed through the house. I marveled at her sewing skills. At six, I pleaded with her to teach me to sew, but she insisted I was too young. Finally, when I turned eight she gave in and taught me how to sew a straight seam. By age ten, I’d honed the craft and would help Mom make gifts that’d accompany tins of our homemade brownies and cookies for neighbors, friends and family.

“I made these this morning. I thought they were unique,” Mom said as she slipped on a cute pair of bright yellow terry scuffs. “I know you’ll have fun sewing these terry washcloth slippers. They’re easy to make.”

“I love them!” I squealed. “I wondered why you bought so many bundles of wash cloths.”

I caught on quickly to folding a thick hunter green washcloth in half and sewing the ends together, keeping in mind there’d have to be a small opening at the top edges to insert strands of elastic and yarn. Then I folded the top edges to the outside and stitch a straight seam all around about half an inch from the top. Once the elastic and yarn were threaded through and secured, I tied on a big silver jingle bell and made the remaining red yarn into a bow. How proud I was of my first creation. “Listen to my feet,” I giggled as I twirled around Mom’s sewing room. “Jingle bells, jingle bells…”

“There she goes, she has bells on her toes,” Mom chuckled. “Adding the jingle bells was a great idea. You should make a pair of slippers for your teacher.”

Once Christmas sewing and craft projects were finished, Mom and I baked brownies, bars and assorted Christmas cookies for gift giving.

I chose two Santa tins for my teacher’s gifts. I filled one tin with a variety of Christmas cookies and placed the slippers I’d made for her in the other tin. “Let’s make them look more festive,” Mom said, and put the tins in a wicker basket with a handle and secured the tins with wide red ribbon, topped with a bow.

On the bus ride to school the next morning, several classmates teased me about my gift not being wrapped, but I ignored their remarks and asked what was inside their wrapped gifts. One gift contained a set of Christmas candles and the other gift was a necklace and matching earrings. They laughed when I confided that one of my gifts was a pair of slippers.

When I arrived at school, I went directly to the classroom and placed the basket amongst the other gifts on my teacher’s desk. Afterward, a classmate taunted, “Her gifts aren’t wrapped.” Laughter ensued.

My teacher glared at the class, then reached for the basket and removed the ribbon from the tins. She opened the tin of cookies first, “Thank you, they smell delicious.” she said and proceeded to open the tin with the slippers tucked inside. “Now what do we have here?”

“They’re jingle bell slippers I made especially for you.” I beamed as I watched her put them on her feet. Suddenly, the room was quiet.

She stomped each foot, and swayed back and forth to music only she could hear. “I have happy feet,” she said. “What wonderful slippers. I want to order four pairs for gifts.”

I was glad that we were dismissed at noon for Christmas vacation. All morning I’d barely been able to contain my excitement, as I wanted to tell Mom how much my teacher liked the cookies and slippers. And I had to get busy and fill her order for jingle bell slippers.

The ride home that afternoon seemed longer than usual. When the school bus finally stopped at my house, I leapt down the steps, ran up the driveway and greeted Mom on the front porch. I was out of breath and gulped for air: “My teacher loved the slippers and wants me to make her four pairs of slippers for gifts.”

“I know,” Mom said. “Your teacher called a short while ago. I told her she could pick them up tomorrow afternoon. We should put them in small plastic bags, label them and give the slippers a name.”

I couldn’t help but smile, as I envisioned my teacher dancing in the slippers. “Let’s call them Happy Feet,” I suggested.

As the saying goes, “She marched to a different drummer.” That was my mom. And that was a good thing. I’m grateful she encouraged me to be the creative person I am today.

~Georgia A. Hubley

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