Today is the first day I’ve had to wear a winter jacket here in New England. My jackets and coats are all stored very nicely in a closet in my downstairs hallway… a little closet carved out beneath my front staircase. I also have scarves and mittens and gloves and hats and boots in there, but today a jacket seemed to be the only necessity.
I don’t know about you, but I love digging out my winter jackets. It’s like they wait for this day, too. Sometimes they need a little shake, a bit of a spiff… but for the most part, they are just waiting for me to open that closet door. So as I was saying hello to them, I had this thought of a winter jacket from a very long time ago, and I couldn’t help but smile. And then I thought to myself, “Would I actually tell my grandchildren this story about my favorite winter jacket?” I mean, I never told my own kids… for fear of them using it against me…
Oh, heck. Here goes. (I’ll just have to make sure that I keep a really close eye on each of my 9 grandchildren.)
I was 12 years old. I lived in New Hampshire. I was interested in boys. Maybe I should stop here.
Nah. It was Halloween night. It was cold. Very, very cold. A bunch of us 7th graders had decided to go trick-or-treating together. My parents were okay with the idea because of the “bunch” factor. Well, they were okay with the idea if I promised to wear my old, warm winter jacket under my witch costume. But I was way too cool for an old winter jacket. So I put on my brand new one. I lived in a little town with beautiful meadows and hills. And woods. If you can sing “over the meadow and through the woods”… la lalala la… you’ll get the idyllic picture. The woods would become the biggest detail in my story that, on second thought, I may never tell my grandchildren.
Well, we all went trick-or-treating. In the dark. The whole bunch of us. Of course, there were the door-answerers who commented, “Aren’t you a little old to be trick-or-treating?” But that was the most fun of all to a bunch of 7th graders! To cover as much ground as possible, we also decided to cut through the woods. Now, I was specifically told by my parents to NOT GO THROUGH THE WOODS. That was their second rule on this early 1960’s dark Halloween night. But “DO NOT GO THROUGH THE WOODS” quickly took second place to the possibility of being with (I still remember his name) Blake in the woods on this dark Halloween night.
My heart was racing. With fear of my parents? NO. With the possibility of my first kiss? YES. So into the woods we all headed, Blake and me last. He reached out to hold my hand. I turned to look at him as we walked. Then it happened. The sound. The rip ripping through the dark. I had walked right into a patch of briars. My costume. And MY JACKET. MY NEW JACKET. Ripped from the shoulder to the elbow.
Oh, God. The first kiss? Didn’t happen. The panic? Overwhelming. I turned and ran from those New Hampshire woods with the fear of Halloween ghosts and goblins and devils. Fear of my parents’ reaction.
Well, the fear was founded. I couldn’t explain about the possible first kiss. No way. (Sorry, Mom, if you are reading this today and just finding out.) But the ripped brand new winter jacket in the briars in the forbidden woods in the dark? I had to tell them. And I was appropriately grounded for… well, a very long time.
Now… do you have a story of disobedience from your past that is better left from your children and/or grandchildren in the recesses of your memories? Ah, c’mon. Do tell.
(As for the first kiss… some other time. Maybe!)
As for today, I am so enjoying the warmth, and memories, of my cozy winter jacket.