97. Grandmother’s Skirt

97. Grandmother’s Skirt

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas!

Grandmother’s Skirt

Grandmas hold our tiny hands for just a little while, but our hearts forever.

~Author Unknown

My heart broke a little when I hung my grandmother’s skirt in my closet this Christmas. It’s a red and green plaid skirt that sits perfectly on my hips and floats at my knees, a “traveling pants” sort of miracle being that I’m six feet tall and my grandmother was five feet tall on her tallest days.

The skirt is one of two items I took from her closet when she passed away. The other was a bland oatmeal sweater that smelled like her. I kept that sweater on for days after she died, breathing in her smell even as I lay in bed nights, listening to the sounds that felt all wrong in her house.

But the skirt went unworn.

The first Christmas season after she died, I couldn’t put it on without crying and so it hung at the back of my closet, its red and green merriment lost in a dark corner. The second Christmas season after she died, I was able to wear the skirt with only the slightest quiver in my bottom lip when I looked in the mirror.

I paired my grandmother’s skirt with a black jacket zigzagged with zippers and tall, black boots with the skinniest of heels. For good measure I added my favorite leather studded bracelet. I remembered my grandmother wearing the skirt, so proper in her heels and pantyhose and a red sweater on top. She would’ve laughed and shaken her head at her modest skirt paired with my hints of edginess.

A thousand times I wanted to send her a photo. I wanted our pictures to stand next to each other, each of us wearing this magical skirt, her red lipsticked mouth smiling next to my own pale grin.

I’m not fashionable or trendy in any sense of those words. I’m gangly and awkward and when I can find pants that don’t look like I’m readying for a flood, that’s a fashion win in my book.

When I stepped out in my grandmother’s skirt, it was a whole new experience. Compliments were showered upon me.

“I love that skirt.”

“That is a fantastic skirt!”

“You look radiant in that skirt. It really brings out the color in your cheeks.”

Needless to say, I felt great in that skirt, so great that I carefully put it in my clothing rotation as often as possible. I wore the skirt when I went to see It’s a Wonderful Life. I wore it to three Christmas parties. I wore it to the Christmas sing-a-long on the last day of school.

So, as I carefully put away my grandmother’s skirt that Christmas Day, I smiled, because somehow, in spite of her passing, my grandmother still manages to give incredible gifts.

In her skirt I felt vibrant. I felt confident. I felt beautiful. The most magical gift of my grandmother’s skirt is that long after I took it off and put it back in the closet, those feelings remained.

~Alicia McCauley

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