Boots are a big deal with the male members of my family. It might be a genetic thing. As a young boy growing up in Tennessee during the 20’s and 30’s, my father loved boots of all kinds. One day after church an older woman asked him, “Walter Lee, are you going to be a preacher like your father when you grow up?” He had heard off-hand remarks about what appeared to be some exciting characters, and so in perfect innocence he replied, “No ma’am. I’m going to be a bootlegger.” I think that probably set Tennessee Methodism back about a generation.
When my first grandson was born, I took it on as a personal commitment to make sure he always had a pair of boots. He loves boots (he is an Underwood!), and that seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. But by the time his younger brother was born, I had become fully educated about how quickly little boys outgrow a pair of boots. I was having trouble keeping up with the tennis shoes, not to mention the boots.
I know what you are thinking: hand-me-downs. Well, here is the truth about hand-me-downs. They work just fine as long as the style of boot doesn’t change, but when the older brother decides to switch to a different color or different brand, the younger brother will settle for nothing less. And, of course, the boots become progressively pricier as the size increases. My boot budget is growing larger and larger by the week.
None of which, of course, makes any difference whatsoever. I have been fond of saying recently that grandchildren are the surest sign that God has blotted out all your sins. No one truly deserves to be blessed as much as one is if they are gifted with grandchildren. And so we now have a rather robust collection of boots and a system: from Liam to Benjamin, who accepts or rejects, and then to Good Will. No bootleggers in my family, but I know that my father would be proud.
(Reprinted from my July 31, 2014 weekly column)
Rev. Don Underwood