• Carmen Marie Fabio

Christmas stockings


It's a longstanding tradition that I buy my brother socks for Christmas, so much so that the one year I figured I'd deviate from the norm and get him something different, he grumbled about having to go and buy his own socks.

They haven't varied much over the years – basic wool construction socks, grey and white with the signature red stripe. I once got him a green pair and another time, when I found a pack of three pairs on special, I gave him and my husband each three socks and let them work it out.

The value of a good pair of socks is not to be underestimated. Somehow, over the years, socks – like most other articles of clothing – have diminished in quality. As the main clothes washer and purchaser in my home, I see socks go through their life-cycle, from fresh out of the packaging to the rag-bag or the garbage can, with increasing speed.

Though I don't subscribe to conspiracy theories, the skeptic in me suggests the sock manufacturers are purposely making the heels and toes weaker so we'll buy more.

A recent Costco sock purchase seemed promising – even the cashier commented on how nice and soft they were. Until I wore them around the house and found their softness akin to the little hooks on Velcro – they pick up every dog hair, wood chip, and dust bunny in the house and even a trip through the washer and dryer won't remove all the accumulated debris. When clothing goes rogue like that, I won't even give them away. It's a cheap move to foist the problem onto someone else.

Years ago, I purchased a six-pair pack of socks at now-defunct Zellers, three white, three black with a little Wilson's logo on them. Nothing fancy, just basic sports socks, but I wore them for the next five or six years before they finally died. I referred to them as my Kevlar socks and, unfortunately, have never been able to find them in the stores again. Just a bunch of ankle socks. A word to the big chain stores – the reason you have a glut of ankle socks in stock is because nobody likes them.

My brother was wearing one of his favourite pairs of socks in basic leather shoes early this fall as he set about doing some yard work, including mowing the lawn.

Now, as a fully trained firefighter and paramedic, he's the one person who ought to recognize the importance of wearing steel-toed shoes. I know this because I've been on the receiving end of more than one of his safety lectures.

A stumble backwards on a rock as he was pulling the lawn mower towards him resulted in – as he put it – a situation that required more than just a Band-Aid. The surgeon who showed up in the emergency room agreed, snapping a number of photos on his cell phone to show his surgeon buddies.

One soft amputation, dozens of stitches, a special shoe, and much physiotherapy later, he's on the mend but not without a few retaliatory safety lectures from his kid sister.

If any good came of his mishap, it's that one of our advertising consultants has vowed to no longer mow her lawn wearing flip-flops after hearing my story. She wouldn't, however, look at the photos my brother's surgeon took.

I found a three-pack of thick woolen socks for my brother again this holiday season but my quest to find steel-toed socks has, regrettably, been unsuccessful.

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