Thursday 29 Sep 2016

My New Scarf
AJ Robinson

So often, stories focus on old times, memories or toys. After all, it's easy to wax nostalgic about an old toy, a cherished memento from your parents, a family heirloom passed from one generation to the next, often for centuries.

Do new topics exist; new ideas or old ideas give new life? Can you find meaning and importance, and a special connection to something that's brand new?

You can if it is a gift from the heart.

Last Christmas, among my gifts was a simple item, nothing of y great importance; a long scarf and no more. Now, when I say long, I don't just mean long; I mean exceptionally long! The scarf was an exact reproduction. It was a reproduction of the first scarf worn by Tom Baker when he took over the role as "The Doctor" in the British sci-fi series "Doctor Who."

It was a gift from my daughter.

Years before, I had become a fan of the series, back when it was getting some airplay time in the US on local PBS stations. This was also in the days before cable and satellite TV; yeah, I know, ancient times! I grew to love the series. When I went off to college in Atlanta, Georgia, I found the need for a scarf; winters are cold there. I told my mother about it and my love for a long scarf like the one worn by the Doctor.

My mother knitted me one, but it wasn't right. Oh, it was okay, but it wasn't long enough; she was worried about me tripping over it. I used it every winter, and I loved it, but - it wasn't right.

Years later, I was married and had a daughter, and I told her about the series. Like me, she was/is into sci-fi. Then, lo and behold, the BBC brought "Doctor Who" back on the air! It was a slightly different format, and the special effects were much better, but we didn't mind; we watched it religiously. Through videos and DVDs, I showed her some of the old classic episodes.

She saw Tom Baker and his scarf.

As she had taken up knitting, she started making hats, scarves, and other items for friends and family. Last year was particularly hard on us - financially - what with the economy the way it was (is); so Christmas was rather lean. Yet, she and my wife both assured me that I would love her gift. I was intrigued - what could it be? It was a large present, and very soft - was it clothing?

It never occurred to me that it might be something she'd made. So, come Christmas, I tore open the wrapping, and instantly recognized the scarf - the Doctor's scarf! She had gone online and done some research into its length and colors, and the pattern. As she explained, the Doctor had one scarf to start, and later he got a much longer one. She'd decided to go with the initial length. She bought the correct colors of yarn, she got the pattern and one day she sat down and created it; took her the whole day, almost.

Now, as we live in Florida, it's not that I'll get to use it a lot. Right now, it hangs draped around my room; I look at it a couple times a day. Some people might look at it and think it's nothing special. After all, it's just a scarf; how much work went into knitting it?

Ah, but you see, that labor of love was more than mere knitting; there was the research into it, getting the materials, figuring out which size to make. All of these efforts bound up, tightly, in that scarf. The journey is from idea to creation; each loop and knit in the pattern and weave is exact. Other people can look at the scarf and see only a scarf, the product of research and work. I look at it, and I see all of the work behind it.

I plan to keep that scarf forever.

Someday, many years from now, I expect that I'll be telling grandchildren about that scarf, and all that went into its creation. I have no idea how long an article of clothing can last, but I intend to take extra good care of this one. Perhaps it will become an heirloom, or at least part of a good family story.

I only hope those future family members are "Doctor Who" fans; it'll make the story more fun for them.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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