50: Confidence

50: Confidence

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grand and Great


We’re only young once, but with humor, we can be immature forever.

~Art Gliver

Grandmothers have a way of uniting families through traditions. Some pass down favorite recipes and others share their sewing techniques, but the tradition my grandmother gave us was very different. Her favorite T-shirt read, “This is No Ordinary Grandma You’re Dealing With!” And that said it all. Grandma was known by everyone to be an outgoing, witty and feisty woman. So, as you might expect, the tradition she passed on to our family was equally unique.

The summer after my high school graduation was the first time she told me the advice she gave to all the girls in our family. She had taken me shopping in preparation for my first semester of college. As we started toward the department store register with the cart full of everything a dorm room would need, we walked past the lingerie section and she stopped.

“Do you have your red underwear yet?” she asked.

“What? No... why?” I stammered, puzzled and embarrassed.

“It’s important for every woman to have at least one pair of red underwear.” She glanced at the appalled look on my face. “To wear on those days when you need that extra bit of confidence. When you have a test, a speech, a job interview or any time you need a self-assurance boost.” Grandma went on to explain her philosophy, that when women have their own personal secrets about their “sassy” red underwear, they somehow feel more powerful and selfassured.

“Only you will know this tidbit of information about yourself, and it will give you a little extra edge of confidence,” Grandma counseled.

Standing in the store discussing my underwear choices with my grandma was extremely embarrassing. I assured her I didn’t need any underwear and convinced her we should leave.

Months later, after my roommate and I had been up all night studying for our first set of final exams, I stumbled into anthropology class and saved her a seat. She hurried in and sat down beside me with a package under her arm. “I picked up the mail on the way to class and we got another package from your grandma!” We were both excited because Grandma often sent us care packages with cookies and goodies, so I ripped open the parcel right there — and yanked out a pair of red underwear! Her note simply said, “Thought you could use these. Love, Gram.”

Classmates snickered and whistled as I desperately tried to stuff the contents back in the package, my face as red as the panties.

Many times after that, when discussing an important upcoming event, one of the girls in our family repeated Grandma’s advice without hesitation, “Don’t forget your red underwear!”

Ten years later, Grandma’s time on earth came to an end. As we made plans for her funeral service we decided on a final farewell to honor such an inspiring lady. Her daughters, nieces, granddaughters (and even my college roommate) all shared a common secret that day. The music played softly as we gathered together, holding hands in prayer before entering the chapel. We winked at each other and giggled, then walked down the aisle — each with that “extra edge of confidence.”

~Jody Walters
Chicken Soup for the Grandma’s Soul

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