The holidays we have are great. I'd request less sugar and less buying of clutter if I could, but on the whole they're fun, especially for kids. As I went through my house and all my belongings prior to moving, though, I've decided we could use a new holiday. Maybe over in August, when there aren't any other holidays. Yes, that would be perfect.
The concept for my holiday is simple. It's a day for everyone in the family to turn in all his or her tired, sad, used socks and underwear and get new ones instead. Because I've tried buying people new socks and underwear periodically, but somehow the new things get mixed in with the old ones and the monster in everyone's drawer just keeps growing. It doesn't seem to matter how many holey underthings I send to the compost bin, I never get to the bottom of the well of tired skivvies. And always, when we're going somewhere and I ask little people to put on decent socks, the reply is, "But I don't have any." How is it possible?
So the premise of our new holiday is this: If you don't leave all your socks and underwear out for her, the Cotton Fairy will know it, and won't reward you with a thing. I understand what this means about how the children will be dressed for bed on Underthings Day Eve...or shall we just call it All Whites Day...they won't be. And so the festivities begin.
First, we'll need a centerpiece for our holiday. Cotton plants begin to look cotton-y around the end of August, and soon there will be a specialty market for cotton plants groomed as Whites Day trees. Now we'll need a fairy or a saint, who has a history and a motivation. Hmm...why would anybody on earth want used-up socks and underwear? For that matter, why would anybody want fallen-out teeth? Is the Cotton Fairy in it for completely altruistic reasons, or is she making a business out of it on the side? Are the old clothes taken apart and rewoven into new ones in order to fill the immense need on All Whites Day? Does Mother Cotton do this all by herself, or is there an army of helpers? Maybe she began her days as a laundress in a monastery and noticed the perpetually sad state the monks' underclothes. Maybe her passion for tidy whites led her to roam the whole earth, providing them for everyone she ever meets. And it made her immortal, of course.
I know what will happen. This will start out as an innocent, straightforward exchange of old clothes for new ones, but in some families the holiday will get out of hand. At first there will be little boxes of those laundry detergent tabs tucked in between the stacks of new briefs. Just as an extra surprise, you know. Then, when those have come to be expected, and the surprise has worn off, there will be personal-sized bottles of bleach, and then those little fancy shapes cut out of cedar, and before you know it, parents will dread All Whites Day as being a behemoth holiday with crushing expectations attached. Children who wantonly disregard the care of their unmentionables might be threatened with, "If you don't stop wearing your socks out in the yard without shoes, the Cotton Fairy might bring you a darning egg and thread instead of replacing them this Whites Day!"
There will have to be a feast on All Whites' Eve, of course. And poems read and candles lit, and all kinds of individual family traditions built up to support this very important day. I believe a sock-puppet theater would be just the thing, with the play having themes relating to the immortality and infinite recyclability of socks' souls. At the end of the evening, each of us will make an offering: All of the loved and used socks and underwear that the Cotton Fairy brought us last year. Then it's off to bed to dream those dreams where we show up in public wearing nothing else.
In the morning, beneath the Cotton Tree, each of us will find a nice stack of bright white socks and underwear, just for us! Maybe this year the Cotton Fairy will have gone a little wild and brought us socks with stripes, or panties with flowers. Who knows what she'll do? She's capricious, that one.
And so we'll start another year, out with the old, in with the new, and it all happens on All Whites Day. When we go out and bump into our friends, we'll know that that little bit of a smile comes from the nice feeling of thick new socks, or of underwear with springy new elastic. We'll know because we'll be wearing the same smile.
All Whites Day. Practical, fun, and actually helpful to parents. I could get on board with a holiday like that, couldn't you?