When I was younger, my grandma and I did everything together. We watched TV, went to the movies, shopped, took day trips. We went to the beach and to the park and sometimes, just out for drives. We became Disney aficionados together — while her movies of choice were “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King,” I wasn’t shy about making her watch “Bambi.” Every single day.
We were buddies. We are buddies. And most who know me also know that I have a special relationship with my grandma. My grandma is more than just a grandma, she’s also one of my best friends, confidants, and biggest supporters. But occasionally we’ve had our moments of dissent.
I distinctly remember one evening when I was maybe 10 or so. We had company over and she wanted to play cards with her children (my mom, uncles and aunt). It was a completely reasonable request… made to a not-so-reasonable child. I begged her not to. I cried. I threw a fit. Don’t do it, I pleaded. Hang out with me instead!
It was not my shining moment, and truthfully, I was being irrational and selfish. Rather than keeping myself busy while she played cards with the family, I — ever-the-drama-queen, thanks to the soap operas I frequently watched — plotted to do something “bad.” I wanted to do something that would make her angry, but not so angry that I’d get in a ton of trouble. So I went to her room, rummaged through her dresser, found her sock drawer, filled with colorful, perfectly-balled up pairs of socks, and began throwing them, one by one, out the window.
I watched them tumble to the ground two stories below, and felt an odd mix of guilt and satisfaction. “I’ll show her,” I thought. I don’t quite remember what happened next — I’m sure it was some mixture of me getting in trouble and then throwing a fit for getting in trouble and having to clean the mess up — but let’s just say that bratty incident instilled enough guilt in me that I still remember it today.
But that moment was quite possibly the first time socks became significant for my grandma and me.
Socks are such an ordinary thing, so commonplace that it’s almost boring. It’s the “bad” gift to give at Christmas, the item of clothing we don’t tend to give much thought. But a few years after my sock-throwing-tantrum, my grandma and I set out on an adventure to buy my first pair of toe socks. (For some reason, all of my friends thought they were really cool.)
Prior to this, I mostly stuck to white socks, but my toe socks were a gateway drug to a patterned-socks craze. Soon, my grandma was picking up toe socks whenever she’d see them — bright colored, striped, polka-dotted.
Although my passion for toe socks weaned pretty quickly, my grandma surprising me with colorful socks did not. Whenever she’d run errands, if she came across a quirky pair, she’d get them for me.
As I got older, I realized what a sweet little tradition it was — to know she was thinking of me even when we weren’t together, even as I began to grow up and go out with friends and work on my own life.
Now, as a so-called “adult,” I tend to buy myself plain, boring, white socks. But I can always count on Grandma for a polka-dotted neon set. Now I’ve got an ever-changing, eclectic collection of socks. Even though Grandma and I can’t do everything together all the time, when I slip on some silly socks, I get to feel like she’s with me no matter where I am — and I wouldn’t have it any other way.