Monday, August 10, 2009

The Greatest Gift

not my actual socks... but close. photo from

We woke up before the sun, my 3 oldest kids and I. The purpose was to help at a fundraiser for the high school cross-country team, handing out numbers to the runners who had signed up for the Provo River Trail Half-Marathon. We arrived just after 4:00 am and did our best to answer the endless questions that were asked of us.

What time do the buses leave? 5:00 and 5:30.

Where does the race end? Right here behind the theaters.

Do you have extra safety pins? Yes, just over there.

Do you know where I can buy some socks? I just drove for 5 hours to get here this morning and I completely forgot to pack socks! At 5:00 in the morning? Maybe Target... it's about 20 minutes from here.

And then before I knew it, I was offering her mine.

Me: "If you want, you can just have my socks. I mean, I'm not running. And if it doesn't gross you out, you're welcome to them."

Runner With No Socks: "No, that's okay. Thanks, though."

I felt so stupid. Why would someone want to wear some stranger's socks? Why did I even offer? Besides, these were some of my favorites... my multi-shades-of-blue-striped socks made with some special keep-your-feet-dry materials.

I continued to pass out numbers and answer questions.

About fifteen minutes later, someone tapped me on my shoulder. I turned.

RWNS: "Hi. I'm desperate. I will totally pay you for your socks."

Me:"You can just have them. Seriously."

RWNS: "No, I need to at least pay you for them."

Me: "Here. Take them. They're a gift. From me to you... seriously."

RWNS: (Hugs me) "Thank you. This means so much to me. Really." (Hugs me again) "Thank you so much."

Me: "You bet. My pleasure."

And then, as she ran off to catch the bus to the starting line, I yelled, "Good luck!"

It warmed my heart to see that person, a perfect stranger I would likely never see again, running off in my (very obvious) stripey blue socks. The happy feeling came from the thought that a simple pair of socks had, for just a moment, turned strangers into friends.

I don't know how to explain it, but I think that moment was one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given.


Anaise said...

And THAT, my friend, is charity or the pure love of Christ.


Anonymous said...

WOW you are so kind that was so touching. I miss your kind spirit...Angela M

Cami said...

You are awesome! I agree, helping/serving others can totally turn strangers into friends.

P.S. We need to get together before school starts.

Mrs. Black said...

Gee, I sure wish I would have bumped into you about 10 years ago when I needed socks. I still remember the blisters! You are awesome :)

Teachinfourth said...

When my life socks, I hope you're around, Gerb as my pick-me-up.

Amanda said...

Socks are definitely the greatest gift! :)

annette said...

That lucky runner! You are such a sweetheart- I think you are the winner here!

Anonymous said...

Aww, Gerb! You are so awesome. I would wear your long, stripey, already-been-worn socks anyday (and the proof of my penchant for long, stripey socks is in one of my facebook albums, I do believe...they're my super-duper trustee volleyball sox). I really, really wish I lived closer to you, but I'm so glad I have your blog to get to know you better. ;)

Autumn said...

I hopped on your blog and REALLY enjoyed reading your various posts. You are an amazing writer. You made me laugh and I was touched by your stories. I read some of your entries to my oldest sister that I want you to meet and she was impressed. Her dream is to write and illustrate childrens books but writing isn't her strength. She came up with a story and is prepared to illustrate it but is looking for someone to jazz it up. Interested? I'm sure you have plenty of time for extra projects (wink) Seriously, let me know.

Autumn said...

changed my blog address to My family has been insisting I do this to protect my family's identity so I did it and now I will be following your example and using code names. Thanks gerb! Hope you had a fantastic anniversary. I missed you at the conference and I am starting Sammy's song today.

Gerb said...

Anaise- Thank YOU.

Angela- I miss you, too. And thanks.

Cami- I have 2 days... and then the school chaos begins. But we should still get together sometime. We could still do that skate/blade down the Provo River Trail if you're up for it!

Shan- Did you really run a race without socks? You can have mine anytime!

T5th- I just hope your life doesn't sock. But if it does... that's what friends are for, no?

Amanda- Agreed!

Annette- I felt like the winner all day. I didn't put socks on until the next day so I could try to remember the warm fuzzy feeling as long as possible.

Lori- I also wish we were close neighbors. But for now, I'll be happy to be blogger friends. :)

Autumn- I can not tell you how so very, very happy I am to be in touch with you again. I actually have always wanted to write a children's book but do not have the time. I would love to meet your sister. I would love to try to spruce up her idea if she's okay with it. I even have a SIL who is an artist and could illustrate...