Winter Galoshes with Silver Latches
When I was seven, the pieces of my life fitted together in jigsaw precision. I’d ask God for what I need, I’d receive it, and I’d live happily ever after. So it seemed logical to me that when I fell madly in love with my brother Tom’s shiny, black galoshes and asked God to let me wear them, I knew that He would answer my prayer.
These special galoshes reached Tom’s knees, so I was positive that they would extend at least as far as my hips. I especially loved their intricate silver latches that he to be snapped together just right or the galoshes would flop around on my feet like a fish did on my fishing pole when I fished with Tom.
Every chance I got I practiced walking in Tom’s galoshes. He didn’t notice when I snaked them from his closet, because it was summer and he was always out playing baseball. It was as easy as sticking out my tongue at the ump to sneak the galoshes down to the basement while Mom was vacuuming and Tom pitching. In the basement, I practiced clumping back and forth and turning the corner by the clothes chute.
By the time winter arrived, I could walk as gracefully in those galoshes as a fashion model on high heels. They were my seven-league boots, my entry into a world of imagination and dreams that I’d never before explored. One day I imagined I was a princes fleeing a fire-breathing dragon in my magic boots. The next day, my fairy godmother granted me ten wishes as soon as I pulled on the galoshes.
One day I came up with the idea that changed my world. Since I loved those galoshes so much, I decided to wear them to school. I knew that the other kids would crowd around me making envious noises and rush home as soon as possible to badger their mothers into buying them a pair. My first illegal act was sneaking the galoshes from Tom’s closet. My conscience prodded me, because Mom preached about not taking things that didn’t belong to me, and I knew that God surely didn’t want me to steal Tom’s galoshes. Eventually I decided that confession could come after my popularity with my peers. Then Mom and Tom would be certain to forgive me.
I hid the galoshes under my bed and prayed for the first snow. It finally came one day in the middle of December. As I pressed my nose against the frosty window pane, I knew that this would be happiest day of my life. Breakfast went by in a blur. While Mom served Tom pancakes in the kitchen, I stashed the galoshes under my coat.
Si x blocks safely away from the house, I slipped on the galoshes and stood admiring them for a few minutes. Everything was going according to plan – another jigsaw piece fitted. As I hurried to school, the galoshes made clump, clumping sounds and the silver latches jingled. I skipped faster, anticipating the compliments I would collect.
Janie Graham spotted me first. She doubled over laughing and her voice sounded high enough to shatter crystal in the frosty air. It shattered my heart. “Look what she’s got on!” Janie hooted.
Suddenly I hated those ugly black galoshes. I made up a story about Mom forcing me to wear Tom’s galoshes because she had given my boots away to a starving orphan. Eventually the galoshes incident blew over, replaced my fresher scandals.
Every year when winter blusters into town, I don’t yearn for fancy modern boots. In my secret heart of hearts, I still love black galoshes with silver latches. Whenever I see a pair, I finger those silver latches and smile.
God is still teaching me the lessons of the galoshes with the silver latches. These lessons include the fact that silver latches tarnish but loving care can polish them to a lustrous sheen and the lesson that different latches can together close the same pair of galoshes. God is still teaching me that softly falling snow signifies rest and hope and that He transforms the bitter cold and depths of winter despair into daffodil spring.