Category: Kid Essentials

I’ll Take Your Hand-Me-Downs, but I Won’t Give You Mine

I’m wearing a hand-me-down right now as I’m writing this post. I’m wearing a mustard yellow, knit duster sweater by a friend who said it was “too big for her”. While I wasn’t thrilled with the knowledge that she wanted to upcycle her fat clothes to me, at the same time… it was a super cute, comfortable sweater so whatever. I took it gladly and wear it happily, even though I think it makes me look like a tube of polenta.

If you look closely in the picture at the top of this post, notice the jeans. My friend’s jeans are rolled up and nicely pegged, per the style, while mine are… blousy and pleated looking. Yes, those were hand-me-downs I tried to morph into style. Such is the life of a kid who wears hand-me-downs. Eternally creative.

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I’m not complaining. I’ll take hand-me-downs gladly any time. As a pastor’s kid, we got hand-me-downs by the station wagon-load when I was growing up. It was like Christmas in July to get garbage bags filled with clothing to rummage through. While most of it was grossly outdated and, well, gross, I could sew and adjust, nip and tuck things here and there to at least stay a few years behind the fads, as opposed to whole decades behind- ala those pegged pants.

See this picture of the ginger kid? It’s me at Easter. I was about 13 years old, wearing a pale pink dress. I’ve always avoided pale pink with the knowledge that pale pink blends almost perfectly with my skin tone and makes me look like a dead body, but alas, it was a hand-me-down and I wanted to wear a new dress. It was all I had.

To this day we get hand-me-downs. In fact, we just got a bag of clothes from a friend for Emmeline and it felt just the same for her- like Christmas. She excitedly tore through the bag and held everything up, exclaiming how cute it was, and trying it on. Even Adelaide slipped on a bathing suit over her clothes and wore it proudly around the house for most of the day. It was joyous. See them? Aww. Happy Hand-Me-Down Day!

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And yet, no one will ever know that joy from me. I don’t do hand-me-downs.

It has been my secret shame. I am the perpetual receiver, but it’s the one area in life I refuse to pay it forward. Want to know why?

Because my kids wear their clothing. I mean it- they wear them while living life to the fullest and their clothes, once they outgrow them, reflect a life well lived. How parents preserve their kids’ clothing in a condition good enough to give to another person without shame, I will never know.

Actually, every time I open a bag of fabulous, generous clothing from someone, I marvel at how clean they are. I marvel like you’d marvel at a beautiful piece of artwork, or a feat of engineering. How do they do that?!

Of course, I have managed to salvage a few fancy coats and charming, monogrammed onesies here and there for posterity’s sake, but overall… nope. We Purdys live in our clothes.

See these costumes? Hand-me-downs- we just got them a few days ago from a mother whose kids probably sat in them and… I don’t know, had a tea party? Perfect, like-new condition. And oh boy, are they going to be loved to the death at my house. They will used for fighting epic battles, worn while eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Popsicles and slept in (let’s just be honest), if history is any indicator.

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While I’m not too proud to receive hand-me-downs (I love it, in fact, because it feeds into my love of all things second-hand- recycled, reused and repurposed), I am way too proud to give hand-me-downs to you. You don’t deserve the headache of sorting through them only to find orange stains on the collars or marker colors on the bottoms of the pants– and they are there.

I care about my reputation way too much to let you see that I cannot keep my kids’ clothing in giveaway condition. But- we all have our cross to bear. So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart for your generous, thoughtful hand-me-downs. We love them, and love you even more; aaaaand after we’ve had them for a while, we’ll give them a proper burial…

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When Making Lunch Changes the World

If your house is anything like ours, school mornings are somewhat chaotic. This morning’s weeping and gnashing of teeth was over school lunches. We can’t afford to buy school lunch right now, so we pack lunches (remember the good old days when people preferred homemade things??), which is much less exciting, apparently.

As EDJ stomped around in anger because “we never have any good food” my husband suggested scraping three dollars out of our spare change jar to let him buy lunch, but it turned out that we didn’t have enough, so I got up to find him something to eat for lunch (yes, he’s a teenager and could, presumably make his own lunch, but it wasn’t in the cards today- I could already tell). You know how those days go.

As I scrambled around to scrape together something for lunch that wouldn’t end up being thrown away, EDJ threw some shade at me about how he hates peanut butter and jelly (which is all I could manage, as we need to shop, but haven’t gotten paid yet- aaaand you know how that goes), and that he fully intended to throw it away at school.

We went back and forth about the value of food and its cost, priorities and perspective, an appreciation for what we have even when it’s as humble as a PB&J and how not everyone can pay for school lunches and how that is OKAY. Of course, when I say “back and forth”, it was mostly me doing the talking as EDJ remained (mostly) silent and staring in a way that reminded me of the way people’s eyes would glaze over when looking at those magic pictures from the 1990’s that made images appear and float in front of your eyes.

After he left for school, I sat down to do my devotions and was reading in John 6, about the little boy with the five loaves and two fish. You know the story- Jesus had been teaching and everyone had come from far and wide, and apparently no one had thought to bring any food into the desert.

When Jesus suggested buying them food, Philip points out that they don’t have enough money to buy food for everyone (we didn’t even have $3, so I felt his pain), but they did have “five loaves of barely and two fish”, offered by a boy in the crowd.

Suddenly it struck me — someone had made that lunch for him, most likely the boy’s mother. My mind wandered as I thought about what that mother may have gone thought that morning as the boy headed out to see Jesus. Did he argue with her about how he hates fish? About how he’s sick of eating barley bread all the time? I wondered if he had complained that her fish always tasted funny and how all his friends were stopping at flafel the vendors to pick up something better. I wondered if he told her he’d throw it away once he was away from her.

I thought- maybe after he’d left, holding his five loaves and two fish away from his body as though it were covered in spiders, if she’d sat down like I had and beat herself up for not being a better mother and for forgetting to pick up his favorite lunch foods. Maybe she’d sent him out of the house with resignation, imagining how he’d toss the food that the rest of the family would gladly have eaten without complaint and what a waste it would be. Maybe she’d just been glad he was gone for a few hours. (You know how that goes).

Then, I remembered Jesus. He’d taken those five loaves and two fish and had performed one of His greatest miracles ever recorded – feeding well over 5,000 people (the Bible only counts the men) with that humble, packed lunch that some mother, somewhere in time, had made that morning. Who knows what she went through, but if she were anything like me, she may have had a morning that made her think: Why do I bother to do this at all? Will it ever get any easier?

And yet, because of the faithfulness and, yes, even the “routine” of one mother, who had made a thousand thankless lunches before that and a thousand thankless lunches after that day and may have had a thousand other arguments with her son about how it’s never good enough- she got up and did it anyway. Why?

Did she know Jesus would perform one of His greatest miracles with her humble, packed lunch? No. In fact, it’s highly probably she never had any clue what the Lord had done with her thankless lunch, made on a morning when she felt especially frustrated with it all. She did it because that’s what loving mothers do – they keep moving ahead because they love, because they see things their kids do not, because they’re willing to invest in their children, even when it’s not gratefully accepted at the moment.

However that investment pays off someday isn’t the concern right now. We do what we know to be the right thing, our very best, in spite of the struggle, the monotony of the routine, in spite of how others around us accept the best we have to offer- we’ve given it to God, and who knows- maybe that one, frustrating morning where we did the same thing we do every day will become one of the greatest events ever recorded in history- because we got up and faced another day thinking all we were going to do was pack our kids a lunch.

Stay Blessed!

~Alicia