It’s turning winter in central Florida, by which I mean it’s no longer warm enough to wear shorts and go around barefooted. Tough, I know. But having to wear socks around the house towards the end of November does turn my thoughts appropriately to giving thanks.
As I write this, the pair I am sporting is twenty-five years old. Before you go all eeewy on me, you should know that the toes have not gone crunchy and there are no holes. They are still quite warm, though, admittedly, the pattern has faded a bit.
I don’t pull this particular pair out of the drawer that often. While they fit and are still nice and toasty, the bacon and eggs symbols on them are a bit ‘80s, after all. However, when I do I am reminded that, sometimes, thankfulness takes a bit of time.
It all goes back to our first Christmas away from England, back in 1989, a mix of welcome new experiences and missed old ones. Friends and family back home hadn’t forgotten us, though, sending many packages for us to open in our new Amsterdam address.
Churlish, I know, but I was really disappointed to open my various wrapped surprises and find a common theme. Socks. For Christmas. Seventeen pairs of them.
I repeat, and without exaggeration, seventeen pairs of socks. For Christmas. Oh joy. Hey, even the odd handkerchief would have been a pleasant surprise.
As you might imagine, I did not need to buy any new socks for myself for a really, really long time. And, gradually, my disappointment gave way to appreciation. Not just for the hosiery, but for the recognition that though I may have moved away, I had stayed in people’s hearts.
It was the thought that counted, even if the thought was, “What can I send someone overseas that’s inexpensive to mail and practical? I know, socks!”
Now, “socks” and “suffering” don’t seem to share much beyond the first letter, maybe, but I have found some threads of commonality. Chiefly, that it can take time to see the positive in something.
In the years since that sucky socky Christmas, I have faced much greater disappointments. At the time, some things seemed like they were going to crush me. Yet what first appeared to be great heartache has been replaced with even greater joy—so much that I wouldn’t go back and change things even if I could.
I’m not suggesting God plans the bad things that happen in our lives, like the folks back in England chose my socks. Sometimes He permits them, though. And, in time, we may come to appreciate the result—just as, a quarter century later, I waggle my warm toes thankfully. It just took a while.
I guess you could say the moral of this story is to never look a gift hose in the mouth.