Snugly hug your feet in merino wool socks. (Stephanie EM Coleman, The Eastern Door)
By: Stephanie EM Coleman, The Eastern Door’s Fashion Diva
I’m a little foggy on when it all started.
Was it 10 years ago? 15? Was it when my siblings and I all left the province where we grew up?
At some point in time, my dad started sending socks to all the boys in my family for Christmas.
I’m not talking about silly Santa socks, I’m not talking about some bland brand nabbed off the rack at Pharmaprix (or ‘Shoppers’ as it’s called out west). No no no. None of that nonsense. Puh-lease.
These are serious socks, purchased at outdoor stores like Mountain Equipment Coop and made from special varieties of Merino wool.
The sock phenomena came on my radar just after my husband and I got engaged in the summer of 2006.
That year, like an initiation into the manzone of my family – I have four brothers and no sisters – my fiancée Daniel Rowe was gifted a pair of black smart wool socks. He still talks about them 10 years later, as they only recently gave out.
“They made my feet feel like they were being hugged all day long,” he said recently, noting their “perfect fit.”
At the time I didn’t think much of the gift. Socks for Christmas? Whatevs! I was 23 and just didn’t get it. Yet.
We got married in September 2007 and moved to Japan just a few weeks later. That Christmas, tucked among other gifts in a small parcel delivered promptly by Japan’s insanely efficient postal service, was the 2007 model.
Different shape, slightly different colour, but the same high quality smart wool and special engineering that hugs the foot at the arches.
This time when he opened his present, I may or may not have given my new husband a little side eye.
In Tokyo you don’t have to brave the delightful slushy sidewalks and freezing rain that we practically shrug off in this neck of the woods, yet the apartment buildings are chilly concrete and it often felt colder than it seemed like it should.
A carefully designed, technological wool sock, suddenly shifted in my mind from a dull stocking stuffer you chuck over your shoulder while digging for the Ferrero Rocher, to a highly coveted item.
Over subsequent family reunions and chats on social media, the topic of the Christmas socks has come up, and I realized I wasn’t the only one getting jealous of the yearly ritual.
Around 2010 there was a revolt and my sister-in-laws and I put forward the motion to be included in the yuletide sock ritual.
Dad was all too happy to oblige, and I have to say it was a true revolution, in that it revolutionized my winter experience.
Gals, these socks are not slinky, they’re not the traditional ideal of super sexy, (but I mean, neither are Uggs and people seem to wear those all the time), but dang they will change your winter life.
And they come labeled with an L and an R for left and right so you don’t have to even use your brain in the morning.
Never again will you find yourself untying your boots in the metro at 8:15 a.m. trying to pull up a stupid excuse for a sock that’s been sliding its way down your leg and under your foot, and leaving you oh-so-elegantly yanking it up, only for it to slide back down again about 30 minutes later.
Don’t act like you don’t know exactly what I’m talking about. Awful. Doesn’t even deserve to be called a sock, spends all its time trying to slip off my foot and then embarrass me. Ahem. Anyway.
Thankfully, this most ridiculous of scenarios will never again be repeated in my life. My friends, I will never go back to the dark days; the days of frostbitten toes and blistered heels.
In case you’re not quite ready to hear it from me, I turn you now to the sock aficionado himself to explain why he has unflaggingly sheathed the soles of our family with smart merino wool, why he’s been so committed to spreading the joy of a high quality sock.
It’s simple. In his words:
“It’s something about the way they embrace your feet. They want not just to cover your toes and heels, but to love them enough that your feet will never be cold and never be too hot if the right merino wool density is used,” Dad said.
“They will never leave your heels or toes experiencing moments of unnecessary exposure because of holes due to excessive slippage caused by a half-hearted embrace.
“And most importantly they will seldom, nay never, if you bring a mid-day change of socks for the long hike, betray your feet with a blister due to a feeble hug usually found in blister building cotton socks.
“Yes, at the end of a long day on your feet, go home and put on a fresh pair of Merino wool socks (avoid the wool blends) and feel the love and know that those lovers of your feet will not betray you later with a whiff of fungus foot because they do not retain odours.
“Don’t get me started on Merino ski underwear, just bite the bullet and get some,” he concluded.
But that’s a subject for a whole other story!
So if you’re stumped for a gift for someone dear to you, don’t judge yourself if you reach for a pair of socks.
What could be bland about a hug that lasts all winter long? May the sock saga live on.