Archive for Thursday, December 23, 2010

Boots booted in favor of lunch, gift to charity

December 23, 2010

For several years now I have wanted a pair of UGG boots. You know, those fine leather or suede boots made in Australia. They look a bit clunky, but are warm and so fashionable — and expensive.

A couple weeks ago I was driving home from a consulting job in Topeka and stopped in Lawrence to shop. I buy my coffee beans at Einstein’s and on the way to the bagel store, I passed by a shoe store. There in the window was a pair of UGG boots. I need a pair of boots. The ones I wear now are probably eight, maybe 10 years old. I am not hard on shoes and my tastes are rather simple.

Except for this pair of boots. I tried on several pairs; my arch was too high, my foot too short. None fit. And then, the salesman brought out a pair of lace-up, leather, sheepskin-lined boots. I was taken by those boots, and I was sure they wanted to come home with me.

So they did. I set them in the living room, in the box. Every so often, I took them out, tried them on, put them back in the box. For a week, these shoes kept me company.

Each time I walked past them, however, another refrain would play inside my head, alongside the one that sang the virtues and beauty of those boots.

It went something like this: Do you know how many groceries the price of these boots represents? Do you know how many kids are hungry today? Do you know how many people are living without heat this year? But these are lovely, special boots, and you have earned them. You work hard; it’s been a tough couple years. You deserve these boots.

Oh, really?

I just couldn’t make my peace with those boots. As much as I thought I wanted them, I simply could not make my peace.

I called a friend of mine who works in Lawrence and we met for lunch. My lunch with her was my reward for taking the shoes back. I like my friend; I was pleased to have time with her.

After lunch, I walked down the street and returned the shoes. On the following Sunday, I put the price of those shoes into a collection plate at a local church. It is a small church with a faithful congregation that has sustained me these past two, difficult years. They are known to take care of those in need.

And what shall I give the Little Drummer Boy asks, what shall I give?

This year, I will give the price of a pair of boots — knowing that someone in need may be cared for in some small way this year. Their needs are greater than mine; it feels right.

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