The Shoe Pile
Why in the world do I always take pictures of the shoe pile by the front door in my home? I pondered this question as the family was gathered for Thanksgiving last week and realized that there are so many reasons that I love the symbolism of a pile of shoes so much. When I look at the photo I took I think about the people those shoes represent. There are so many sizes and styles of shoes; from tiny infant/toddler shoes to size 12 men’s sneakers. I think the emotion that tugs at my heart when there is a pile of shoes by the front door comes down to this: the pile is a visual reminder that loved ones are gathered inside our home and here to stay for a while.
It isn’t that I require friends and family to deposit their shoes by the front door; they simply do it out of habit. Other than the tracking in of mud and dirt when our boys were small, I can’t really remember a time that I asked anyone to remove their shoes in our home. But for many of our family and friends, it is simply a gesture of respect, and I appreciate the thoughtfulness.
Early in our marriage, Arnie and I discussed the fact that we always want people to feel comfortable in our home. Although it may not be “company clean” when you pop in, you are always welcome inside. We love to host large gatherings; not because our house is particularly large or ornate (it is neither) but because it is important to us to create treasured memories of family and friends spending time together.
As I gaze at this year’s pile, I can’t help but think of all of the pairs of shoes that have been placed by our front door over the years. Soccer and baseball cleats, flip-flops, and loafers. Must-have name-brand sneakers. Heels and flats. Dressy shoes and casual ones. Snow boots, rain boots, and cowboy boots. Bedroom slippers. Crocs. Easter shoes and prom rentals. So many milestones. So many memories.
I am reminded of the years when my boys were growing up and outgrowing their shoes weekly. Of learning the difference between indoor and outdoor soccer cleats and plastic and metal baseball cleats. Of tiny infant shoes with lots of support for that all-important first step. Of the transition from toddlers’ sizes to child’s sizes and then adult sizes. Of all of the times that one shoe from a pair decided to play hide-and-seek right at the moment the school bus pulled up.
For me, shoe piles will forever be a precious metaphor for the cycle of life. A constant reminder of friends and family gathered together. A brief glimpse into the lives they represent. And the most cherished memories.
Kicking my shoes off,