Sunday, January 08, 2006

Laundry: A Holiday Gift

The holidays include laundry. Not just the pretty velvet dresses and fancy holly berry hot pads, but the gifts of laundry. You might call them gifts of clothing, but as The Momma, I know what they are: more laundry.

Since they are gifts, they are often less than practical items, requiring special washing instructions. For the teenage girl there are lycra tops and jackets with velvet trim. For the 9 year old girl, sweaters and pjs with feather trim, and countless tops and even jeans with sequins. Hubby receives dressier shirts, some with silk content, and a few sweaters with textures which warn me of special care needs.

I used to peek at the labels for care instructions as the gifts were opened. But no longer. I remember the Christmas of 2001, when I was caught looking at the labels for washing instructions. Not wanting to appear like the slave to fabric content that I am, I blurted "I'm just checking the sizes." My mom, convinced was implying the clothes wouldn't fit, waved her hands about - complete with shrill squeaking in self defense: "I shopped off my your list! I only bought the sizes you had written!"

The shockwaves were still felt in Christmas 2002 & 2003.

So now, I no longer read tags at gift openings. I wait until item appear in the laundry.

This greatly slows laundry time. Normally, as The Momma, I know instantly the bulk of her black cotton/ramie hand-wash-flat-dry sweater, the slip of his hand-wash-reshape casual-dress shirt, the pattern of her hand-wash turquoise sequined blouse (even when inside out) and know that if it is here, the matching sequin jeans likely are as well...

But with new items, it's read every darn tag for instructions, until eventually, I equally match their weight, texture & color with their care instructions. I study them well, so that eventually, I'll recognize them all by sight & touch, and know their special quirks of care. I'll even know the very blue of her jacket with velvet - and as it turns out, silk - applique, so that I may rescue it from the laundry & move it to the dry clean only pile. I'll of course wash like colors as I can. And if the lavender feathered pajamas, by virtue of color & content, require the first few washings on their own, I'll do that too. All in the name of laundry safety.

Every now & then, a grandma will give the girls a 'just because' gift. Often without my knowledge, it will appear in the laundry pile, and a new bulky sweater, by absence of large silver snaps, an over-sized zipper, a special belt or hood, will be mistaken for 'the usual' sweaters - ones which do not require special care. This too has happened with other special care items hiding in the family laundry... Now too small for our children yet too large for Bratz dolls, or wrinkled beyond recognition, these dark secrets languish in the laundry room between items which need buttons & mending and items which need ironing.

Perhaps not coincidentally, to the left are the stacked boxes of holiday decorations & linens.
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