"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words. " ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ruby Slippers and Red Shoes

A HOUSE WHERE ALL'S ACCUSTOMED, CEREMONIOUS

Last time, I was writing about the Wizard of Oz; this time it's Ruby Slippers! Coincidence? Or merely inadvertent Connection? Whichever it may be, I ordered these little red shoes from the Lillian Vernon Catalog back in the earliest days of my Christmas tree ornament collecting. They have always been among my favorites, so much so that I would often leave them out all year, hanging in a special spot. Oddly enough, when I moved from Indiana to Philadelphia in 1993, I totally forgot that instead of putting them away after the holidays I had hung them on a little hook above the guest room mirror. They had already been in my life for a decade, yet despite my attachment to them, I managed to overlook them amidst the chaos and stress of packing and moving.

Luckily, the new owners were kind enough to package them up and mail them to our new address. Every year as I take them out and hang them on the tree, I am reminded of their surprising reappearance in my life -- before I had ever even realized that they were missing -- and of the kindness of strangers who took the time to realize their sentimental value and send them back into my life. There's no place like home, right? Or as Emmylou Harris sings: "Wear your ruby shoes when you’re far away / so you’ll always stay home in your heart."

Gerry and I began the Christmas Season early this year, attending the French Quarter tree lighting and St. Louis Cathedral Choral Concert in New Orleans, on November 20th. Even better, guess where we ate:


Thus, I've had it in my mind ever since that day -- way back before Thanksgiving! -- to write about "The Christmas Shoes" on my December blog. I knew for sure it was the right choice when I went to church on Christmas Eve, only to hear the priest say that the one song that was really getting to him this season was "The Christmas Shoes." Holy Connection and Coincidence! Weren't both the CD and the DVD propped right beside my laptop, waiting for my attention? Yes! I went straight home, listened carefully to the song a few times and then watched the movie on New Year's Day.

I couldn't help thinking of the picture books that I have loved since childhood: Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Red Shoes. Though the mother is not sick, and it happens to be her birthday rather than Christmas, the three brothers -- just like the boy in "The Christmas Shoes" -- do all they can to obtain red shoes as a surprise for her. Another book in the series, Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and The Yellow Sled combines similar themes: it is once again Mother's birthday, the triplets are once again completing chores and saving money for a major purchase -- the yellow sled for themselves. However, like the "Christmas Shoes" narrator, they realize, even as the cashier is ringing up the sale, that it is better to give than to receive.



It is a popular assessment to accuse this contemporary song of being sappy and sentimental, but oh well! After all, it's an emotional season, and you just never know what holiday song, old (e.g. Scarlet Ribbons -- yet another Christmas Miracle!) or new, might speak to your heart:

The Christmas Shoes

It was almost Christmas time
There I stood in another line
Tryin' to buy that last gift or two
Not really in the Christmas mood

Standing right in front of me was
A little boy waiting anxiously
Pacing 'round like little boys do
And in his hands he held a pair of shoes

And his clothes were worn and old
He was dirty from head to toe
And when it came his time to pay
I couldn't believe what I heard him say

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my mama, please
It's Christmas eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time
You see she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful, if Mama meets Jesus tonight

He counted pennies for what seemed like years
Then the cashier said, "Son, there's not enough here"
He searched his pockets frantically
Then he turned and he looked at me

He said, "Mama made Christmas good at our house
Though most years she just did without
Tell me sir, what am I going to do
Somehow I've got to buy her these Christmas shoes"

So I laid the money down, I just had to help him out
And I'll never forget the look on his face when he said
"Mama's gonna look so great"

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my mama, please
It's Christmas eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time
You see she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful, if Mama meets Jesus tonight

I knew I'd caught a glimpse of heaven's love
As he thanked me and ran out
I knew that God had sent that little boy
To remind me what Christmas is all about

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my mama, please
It's Christmas eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time
You see she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful, if Mama meets Jesus tonight

I want her to look beautiful
If Mama meets Jesus tonight


by Eddie Carswell & Leonard Ahlstrom of NewSong

Book, written by by Donna VanLiere
Movie, starring Rob Lowe
Song, also performed by John McNicholl
[Click to hear a few other versions.]

My Red Christmas Shoes
Thanks Vickie!

. . . and also a fun game for the family
from Auntie Wickie!

SEE YOU IN TWO WEEKS FOR MY
Next Fortnightly Post
Wednesday, January 14th

Between now and then, read
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT
my shorter, almost daily blog posts
www.dailykitticarriker.blogspot.com


Looking for a good book? Try
KITTI'S LIST, currently featuring
"The Girl Who Just Loved Christmas"

2 comments:

  1. Too bad the present pope, Francis, foreswore the wearing of the papal red shoes!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. TRACKS
    Using a cobbler's shoe last
    I found one summer at a yard sale,
    and the heavy leather uppers
    from cast-off boots, a jigsaw,
    some wood, an awl and thread,
    and a few evenings sitting alone
    thinking of you, I have fashioned
    a pair of red valentine shoes
    with heart-shaped wooden heels.
    Look for my tracks on your doorstep
    where I stood with sore feet
    through the evening, too timid to knock.

    ~ Ted Kooser, from _Valentines_

    ReplyDelete