July 26, 2013
My sister’s favorite clothing item in the entire world is a knit cardigan. She wears it year in and year out. She claims it “goes with everything.” Knowing that, I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised when my daughter put a knit cardigan on her birthday list. Yet, I thought it was a peculiar gift for an 11-year-old to ask for so, in spite of myself, I asked her why she wanted one. Her response: “Auntie Rachel has one. I want to be like Auntie Rachel.”
Of course, I had to find the perfect knit cardigan before our summer trip. I knew I had a tall order to fill. My work was already cut out for me.
Me & My Shadow
I’ll explain a little about our summer ritual. Ever since I was a child, my family has taken an annual summer trip to see each other. When we were young, our family of six literally lived cross-country from our extended family in the Midwest. Summer vacation was one of the only times we got to see each other, and boy, did we make the most of it.
My dad, the college professor, finished up his last summer school course in late June. By the time he had that last paper graded, my mom had packed up four kids, arranged pet and lawn care, and organized the house. We were ready to go. We left in the early morning the day after classes ended. It took three days to get there, but by July 4th, we were ready to celebrate independence with our extended family.
Now that you understand a little about my family traditions, you can understand why I’ve carried this one on. Every summer, around the same time, my husband and I pack-up the van and take our kids to see their aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. We usually arrive just before my brother throws his larger-than-life Fourth of July barbeque. My eldest daughter’s birthday bash is held the weekend before we leave. It’s a tight schedule, but we make it work…usually.
Long story short, I had about a month to find my daughter an auntie-matching knit cardigan she could show off at the barbeque.
Birthday Wish Granted
Can any other parents relate to the delicate balance between external calm and internal panic I found myself under? Don’t get me wrong; my daughter’s birthday wish: adorable. So adorable in fact, that I wanted to get it exactly right. I just had no idea where to start.
I hadn’t seen a nice child-sized knit cardigan in at least 10 years. The only ones I could recall were the bulky, faded, scratchy ones I had to wear with my middle school uniform. I knew that’s not what my daughter had in mind. She wanted a soft, warm, cream sweater to curl up underneath.