Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Hooray if you both mind the business and mend the pants

Old and beloved dish towel
When I took one of my Christmas kitchen towels out of the washing machine yesterday, I noticed its corners had unstitched leaving fringe-like threads hanging from each corner. Since I've had the towel for years, my first impulse was to delegate it to the ragbag, the fate of most hand towels in my house.
As I looked again at the Santa image and thought about how fun it is to bring it out this time of year, I decided to mend it instead. Why should a towel be demoted to a rag just because it's gotten a little frayed (notice, I didn't say raggedy).

Dragging out my pin cushion with needles, a spool of white thread, a pair of scissors, and a thimble, I sat by a window for best light and began to mend. I thought about a conversation with a young friend who had joked about her generation just tossing things when I complained to her about my trip to a lampshade store, only to discover it had gone out of business. "My generation just throws out the lamp and buys a whole new one. We'd never go shopping for a new shade." I realized it had been a very long time since I had gotten out my thimble; I'm apparently losing my generational mindset of repairing instead of replacing. I also realized that making tidy stitches--a skill as essential as knowing how to make a bed--was a lot harder than it used to be.  

All four corners mended

The phone rang just as I was starting the project. The caller was a former employee whom I'd hired right out of college in the late '90s. We've kept in touch over the years because we both joined a marketing team several years later as peers and became friends as we worked on creative projects together. He is the person whose computer screen I stood over on September 11, 2001, to watch in horror the unthinkable event. That in itself would have bonded us forever, but our friendship has lasted for lots of other reasons, too. 

He is a brilliant, talented man, as well as a devoted husband and father, who has been deservedly successful as CEO of several east coast software companies. I told him what I was doing when he called, and he cheered. "I just mended a pair of my own pants that I like too much to give up," he shared. I nearly shrieked with delight. If this forty-something man, who has the means to toss and replace anything he owns, is willing to mend a pair of his own pants . . . well, there just might be hope for humankind. Of course, I'm being silly, but I loved knowing this tidbit. His company was just sold for more than $500 million. It's not something a person would normally convey in a once-every-two year phone conversation. My guess is when next year I bring out the Santa towel, it'll trigger a happy memory of today's chat with a forty-something corporate bigwig who is willing to mend instead of toss.

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