Hand-me-downs have got to be the greatest invention of EVER.

Don’t get me wrong; there’s something magnificent about getting a brand new Under Armour polo shirt for your boy, ripping the tags off, and seeing him look so incredibly handsome in it, you want to swoon until someone brings the smelling salts.  But getting a big box of clothes from a good friend’s boys is a whole lot like Christmas.  You get to root around in the box and unearth all kinds of adorable shirts and little pairs of shorts and sneakers that still have enough life left in them to take your kid through an entire summer of playing in the backyard and hiking mountain trails.  I nearly squeal with the delight of a pink piglet in a mud hole when we are handed giant, cardboard boxes full of clothes from our darling friend, Carrie.

We are running a bit of a cartel, when it comes to trading clothes back and forth.  I give Sister the boy’s too-small outfits… the ones WITHOUT collars on the shirts.  K won’t wear  collars on his shirts, and he won’t wear golf shorts, either.  The collared shirts and golfing shorts go straight to Carrie, because her boys DO wear them.  Sister passes the T-shirts and gym shorts and jeans on to Carrie, when K outgrows them, and Carrie adds them all to Oliver and Kellan’s closets at their house.  Then, she passes what six-year-old Kellan has outgrown straight to us.

(Yes, I know.)

(Sometimes even WE need a flowchart and spreadsheet to keep track of what clothing item goes where.)

And then… after the clothes are too small for Thing 2… I pass them along to someone else.  Carrie and I understand the value of being neurotic in the laundry room, which keeps those clothes pretty much stain-free and in good shape for another whole handful of children to wear behind us.

Of course, Carrie and I send one another pictures of our boys in the same clothing, because we’re weird.

See this orange shirt the boy wore to a wedding rehearsal dinner in the summer of 2011?  Yeah…. he was ELEVEN YEARS OLD and a couple of weeks away from starting the 5th grade.  That first child of ours was SMALL.

Carrie sent a snapshot to me of her NINE YEAR OLD in the same shirt.  He’s a 3rd grader.  He’s got some length in his legs that the boy never had.

As a side note, that’s Carrie’s husband.  He grew up next door to us.  He threw snowballs at my sister and me in the winter, peed in the yard when he was eight, and shot pop bottle rockets at us in the summer.

I thought he was probably destined for a life in jail.  If life was a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, he was the Calvin to our Susies.  Thankfully, he met Carrie, who transformed him  into an upstanding citizen!  He’s become a decent sort of fellow now.  I’ve eaten dinner with him as a grownup on his patio, and never once did he spit a mouthful of guacamole in my direction.  Y’all, he didn’t even burp at the patio table!

Wives are amazing.

In our most recent box of hand-me-downs from Carrie, I found this little treasure for that cute Thing 2:

And here’s Carrie’s older boy, Oliver, wearing it several years ago:


Hand-me-downs are bits of money-saving greatness.  They make you sigh, when you see them on another child, as you sashay down Memory Lane and say, “I remember that…”

The big kicker is… when you have just one boy, and you believe that you’ll never have a second child, you tend to get rid of EVERYTHING.  The crib and changing table are sent to a younger niece; the exercise saucer with all the light-up bells and whistles is sent to a nephew.  And all the clothes your only child wore are given away… forever.  We have passed every shirt and pair of jeans, along with all the socks without holes in them, to the boys’ cousin, K.  He wore them, and Sister then sent them on to others.

Lost to us forever.

Except…. in the back of Cousin K’s closet, Sister uncovered a bag of some of the boy’s stuff, which she had MEANT to give away, but which had been hidden behind Playmobil castles and Lego sets and Batman costumes and sticks that were transformed into swords.

She gave the bag to us, and yes.  I almost cried a little.

I think as a mama, women enjoy seeing an outfit worn by all of their kids, and I am no exception.

When the boy was a nine-year-old, he had this green sweatshirt:

We loved that sweatshirt.  He wore it and wore it… AND WORE IT!  We lost the strings out of the hood.  We wore it to soccer games and on vacation.  We wore it in the backyard, at friends’ late-night barbecues, to high school football games and to school.

That little green sweatshirt was well-loved,  It’s thick and heavy, and it’s warm.

In that bag of stuff that Sister gave us, I found that little green sweatshirt that my NINE-YEAR-OLD had worn.  He wore it in the 3rd and 4th grades, y’all.  The boy was never blessed to escape the 12th and 15th percentiles in height and weight.

Well…. our five-year-old, PRESCHOOLER wore that sweatshirt yesterday to golf in, while it was raining.  It was a touch big, and we had to roll the cuffs on the sleeves a couple of times, but I think it’s safe to say that this sweatshirt will be a too-small memory when Thing 2 is a 3rd grader.

Be still, my heart.

This sweatshirt is one of the few things we have left of the boy’s younger years, that Thing 2 can wear.  Of course now… now that the boy is bigger and Thing 2 was born in 2012… I’ve been saving clothes.  And by saving them, I mean they go to Cousin K and Carrie’s two boys, and then they’re going to work their way back to us, for our smaller fry.

People, I can hardly wait!

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