Monday, September 29, 2008

Are You Okay with Hand-Me-Downs?

My neighbors, a group of people for whom I am deeply grateful, recently threw us a surprise baby shower for Fiona.

We live in an interesting place - there's a fair amount of job security, given that many of our neighbors work for the federal government or are active duty military.  (The latter group has a job security that is downright terrifying.)  But our incomes are relatively modest when you consider the cost of living in the nation's capital.  And so while most of us are two-income, professional families that appear to earn quite a bit, our lifestyles are by no means lavish.

This isn't the kind of 'hood that attracts people longing for the Glamorous Life, either.  I suppose some of our neighbors could've stretched and a fancier 'burb, but it would've meant living outside the beltway.

Most of us are at least a little bit green, though it's inconsistent.  The only family of hardcore vegetarians includes a shopaholic mom; the only family that really eats local also commutes via car.  

But in recent days, a number of neighbors have asked how I feel about hand-me-downs.  

My attitude?  Bring 'em on!

Could we afford to kit out our kid?  Of course!  But why?  If there are perfectly good kid clothes sitting in someone else's closet, I'm more than willing to dress Fiona in secondhand finery.  Much of her baby clothing has come second-hand already, through the local thrift store and my favorite consignment shop.

But here's what puzzles me - if they're asking it must mean either:

1.  They admire and respect my personal style and approach to dressing Freddie and don't want to interfere with our sartorial decision-making.

With a glance down at my well-worn, $3 clearance rack maternity khakis from pregnancy #1, I can safely conclude that's not it.

2.  Some people consider hand-me-downs inappropriate or even insulting.  Or something.

Looking back, I remember my mother disliking the hand-me-downs we received from a pair of cousins.  But then, my cousins were allowed to adopt trendy, more adult styles a few grade levels earlier than we were.  When we were all still in little girl sundresses, I seem to recall wearing quite a few of Hester and Hattie's things.

Other than issues of appropriateness, I can't fathom a reason to say no to 2T tee shirts.  Should some of the tees declare Fiona a diva, princess or spoiled brat, I'll simply tuck those in the back of the box to be returned.

So ... I don't get it.  Why would someone object to gently used kids' clothing?  I'll probably still splurge on a few special occasion outfits and the like, but that's easier to do if most of her gear comes free of charge.

Why would anyone turn down such painless generosity?

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