Jack Brezina: All wrapped up for Christmas
|By Jack Brezina - Contributing Writer | December 21, 2017|
With Christmas fast approaching, I can think of no better time than now to talk about underwear, specifically my experiences with underwear.
Underwear has always had a strong Christmas connection for me. In my childhood, pairs of underwear were scattered amongst the many packages, under the tree, that had my name on them. Included in the cornucopia of gaily decorated gifts were boxes containing socks, sometimes there would be a clip-on bow tie and a toy … some foreign looking material that I was assured was something to play with. “Build something,” they urged as I unwrapped the suspicious package.
But my strongest memory is of fresh, still in the package, neatly folded with cardboard stiffener inside, underwear. Actually the undergarment avalanche, coming at Christmas, was a timely and thoughtful addition to my youthful wardrobe. I specifically remember a pair of long johns … you know the item that was once called a union suit, but today would be referred to more fashionably as a onesie. Made by the good people at Stanfield’s in Truro, Nova Scotia, this secret sartorial statement enveloped one, like a cocoon from the ankle to the neck and down the arms to the wrists with heat preserving wool. Not only did Stanfield’s long johns keep one warm, they generated massive spasms of itching caused by the fabric which often felt akin to the gentle caress of a baby porcupine. And woe be the people who chose long johns in the morning only to discover the temperature climbing throughout the day to the point that they were close to passing out within their own hot house.
But the outstanding feature of the long johns was the infamous trap door at the back, supposedly positioned so as to allow the wearer to … ah, well … no need to go too far down that road. Anyway, my experience was, that as a result of miscalculation at the factory, the opening created by undoing the buttons holding the trap door shut, never seemed to be in line with one’s anatomy and, well … perhaps, another road we need not explore any further. Suffice to say the flap has become the butt (if you will) of many a joke, jape and cartoonish set up.
All that notwithstanding, the one-piece long john (I am never sure if it is correct to singularize the item when speaking of only one pair) delivered on its promise and kept us warm. Winters were colder back then, the snow was yards deeper and the hills always went up. But no matter how cold it got, one could always be secure when stepping outside wearing a pair of long johns … and of course other items of clothing.
Since then, the clever people who work in underwear have simplified the whole thing by slicing the onesie in half at the waist, creating top and bottom. The fabric is a lot softer on the skin, it is easier to get into and out of a two-piece onesie and, perhaps most significantly of all, one need not worry about the flap ever again.
As I join the present-opening frenzy this Christmas, I’ll spare a brief moment and fondly remember, with a tear in my eye and feeling the itch on my skin, the joy of opening a gift box of long johns and socks.
Here’s hoping your Christmas morning is filled with equally touching moments.
Jack Brezina is a contributing writer for The Highlander.