According to the Chinese New Year calendar, this is the Year of the Horse. Many people are interested in a prediction for the coming year based on whether they were born in the year of the rooster (me), the monkey (my husband), or the rat (my friend.) I put no credence in the predictions, but they are fun to read. (Since this is Valentine’s Day, this post eventually gets to that point.)
This year has become for me the Year of the Coats.
I love coats and jackets. I enjoy wearing them and dislike giving them up, even when they are old and worn out. For example, we traveled to Australia in 1993 and I bought a jacket for the trip. I still think of it as my Australian jacket, though it was bought here. It is stained and shabby, but I love it and especially love to wear it when hiking or walking on brisk days near my home.
Since I love coats, in the fall I had an idea to have a coat give-away for the patrons of our free dinners on Wednesday night at our church in Cincinnati. We asked the church to donate clean and gently used coats for children and adults. They responded overwhelmingly and many people chose greatly needed outerwear.
But this posed a problem for me. Which coats could I give up? My husband and I ruthlessly went through our closet, pulling out coats to donate. “That one?” I’d ask him. “But I always loved that coat on you,” or “I even wear that one sometime when it’s really cold outside.” But donate we did. (I still have my Australian jacket because it is too shabby to offer to someone else.)
I have to admit it was rewarding to see our guests “shop” and find a coat that fit, especially if it were one from our coat closet. I admit that I tucked a couple back and then brought one out when I saw a worthy recipient. I loved giving that lightweight, warm coat that both of us had worn at various times to Larry, who wore just a jacket though it was frigid outside. He was so thrilled with it he wore it even as he ate his dinner.
Together Steve and I shopped for a new winter coat for me and found two for what we’d expected to pay for one. I was content. They are warm and will fit over any other jacket I might wear.
And then another coat appeared. We were at a charity auction for Midwestern Children’s Home, looking around at both the silent auction items and the live auction ones. I’d told my daughter-in-law that I’d try on the beaver jacket for her, since that’s her favorite fur and of course she doesn’t own one. I have no “favorite fur” because I’ve never had a desire for a fur coat. The jacket was a bit snug, but it definitely fit me.
Fur coats? Animals killed, expensive, pretentious. I’ve been told that in cold climate cities, such as New York City or Minneapolis, women routinely wear fur coats everywhere—grocery store, shopping, McDonald’s. But I had no interest.
The auctioneer began low, obviously hoping to go up to a thousand or more. No bids. None. I started feeling bad for the person who had donated it, knowing she expected the jacket to bring in lots of money for the children’s home. But neither was I willing to pay his price.
I whispered to Steve, “Someone should offer less. Maybe he’d take less to start the ball rolling.”
Immediately Steve called out his bid. The auctioneer stopped and looked at us, probably insulted, but he took the bid. I thought, Now folks will jump in to bid. No one did.
Steve said, “Will you wear it?”
I answered, “Sure! If it’s my Valentine present.” And he was happy to agree. Saved him some shopping time.
Steve, joking, asked if I’d ever owned a $2000 coat. I told him I’d never owned a $300 coat!
But now to confess: That is the warmest jacket I’ve ever worn. When I wear it in these single-digit temps with warm slacks and boots, I’m toasty. That jacket, which also has deep pockets, is the warmest ever.
Perhaps it looks like we, too, have deep pockets to buy such a coat. (And it is used, so those animals were already dead.) But surely that money will go toward helping some at-risk young people to keep warm as well. You’ll notice I can rationalize just about anything.
Scripture to go with this? Any suggestions? (I hope no one suggests Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5! ;-))