1.15.2008

Hand-me-down heaven


Having kids is expensive. When you have more than the normal and acceptable number of chil'rens, it's just plain crazy. Everything I buy, it's times six. Usually, I don't buy the kids more than one article of clothing at a time. Thankfully, my two oldest wear the same size so they share pretty much everything but their shoes (Diego is bigger by a whole size and a half--even though he is 15 months younger). My younger two sons have a small and humble wardrobe. They're busy waiting on the older two to outgrow something so they'll have something new coming their way. I don't mind though, the younger two are real pig-pens and they are constantly ruining stuff. And my girls, well, they are girls. They have more clothes than all of us combined.

I'm blessed to have parents who regularly buy clothes for their grandchildren. So if someone needs a new pair of jeans or they outgrew their shoes and their older sib is not yet ready to hand his down, they will fill in the gap for us and buy them what they need. And I'm not too shy to ask either. There have been quite a few shipments from Old Navy to my front porch, courtesy of my mom and dad's credit card. Just before Christmas I realized that Maya had absolutely no warm clothes. Sure, she had shorts and halter tops and tanks, but nothing that fit her constantly stretching legs and arms. So her grandma-mama took her to Target and bought her leggings, jeans, sweaters, long-sleeve tees and pj's. Whew.

I am not averse to hand-me-downs. As a matter of fact, I love me some hand-me-downs. Especially when they come from a home where there is an only child. Then that is just gravy. They are usually without stains or holes, they are still in style, they are name brand and they come by the trash bag full. Yesssss.

Unfortunately, we have also been a victim to people who thought oh, they have a hundred kids, surely I can toss them these holey, stained rags from Walmart. Here--why not toss in some thongs, too! I kid you not, I once got a bag of hand-me-downs from someone my stepdad works with and there were several thong underwear in the pile. Who the hell wears hand-me-down thongs? And shirts with large holes in them. Why would you inflict holey shirts and used thongs on the less fortunate of society? We're poor, not completely tasteless.

Right after the new year, my stepbro and his woman sent us a bag of clothes for our boys. My nephew Ezra is younger than Noah but he is a big, strapping boy so his stuff would fit Noah and Diego perfectly. Kristina told me that they just got rid of bags of clothes to friends and the Goodwill. Nooooo! But she still had some stuff to pass on over. And what was it? A big bag full of O'Neill, Hurley, Vans, Quicksilver, Tony Hawk, Billabong, Dickies and other skate brands. All like new. About four hooded sweatshirts in perfect condition. Six or seven pairs of brand-new board shorts. And several button down shirts for their fancy days. Wow, what a blessing. Good looking out, Ez. Keep on shooting up like a weed!

Then my cousin Diana brought over a big bag of stuff for Maya last Friday. Several pairs of sweats, sweatshirts, tees, pj's, shorts, dresses and sweaters. Maya and Xixi were so excited to see the Disney princess pj's. You would have thought they had a shopping spree at Nordstrom the way they were tearing through the bag. Oh, and two pairs of tap shoes! Those entertained them all week long.

I wish I could say that every bag of hand-me-downs I get was as good as these two occasions. There have been many occasions where stuffs been sold at our yard sales or packed in the back of Michael's truck headed for Goodwill.

I like to think that there is hand-me-down karma. Now, I don't believe in spiritual karma per se, but I do believe in passing whatever clothes I have to others. You may think that I wouldn't have anything to hand down since the chil'rens get good use out of everything. But there is still stuff to give away. I had an obscene amount of rubbermaid bins stuffed with brand-new newborn clothes and blankets and shoes and they all found a good home. The same with my girl's clothes and the several jackets I have stuffed in my hall closet. Whenever we get something new (or new to us), I try to give something away.

And now you know why the chil'rens don't look like ragamuffins every time you see them. We got people, yo. People that take care of us.
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