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Memory of my cotton-padded coat

Popularity 2Viewed 2740 times 2016-2-14 12:52 |System category:Life| department, physical, weather, whether, Memory

                           For us northerners, feather coats are a conventional dress worn by people of all ages in the sub-zero weather. When I was young, there were hardly any feather coats sold in the department stores, though there are an abundant supply of them for us to choose from whether in the physical stores or online shops now. There did exist extravagant mink coats but only the super-rich could afford the luxury. For the most majority of common people, cotton-padded coats were the best choice in winter. In order to keep warm, the elderly would make padded-coats for the younger generation. I have no idea since when Chinese people began their tradition of making padded-coats, but it has become part of Chinese folk culture, which will be passed down for generations to come.   
                     In traditional Chinese culture, when a new baby comes to the world, its grandma should sew some cotton-padded coats and trousers as a welcome gift. As a little kid, the most memorable gift from my grandma is a pair of blue rompers and a red padded jacket. The two colors are a perfect match according to traditional folk culture. Dressed in the gear, I looked like a typical country girl, simple but lovely. Grandma lived in the countryside all her life and she got so close to nature that she had accumulated plenty of knowledge about old customs and changes of seasons. In August when the crops were gathered in, grandma would set out to make padded clothes for the family. She would take me to our local department store where I was allowed to choose my favorite cloth patterns. The cotton we used was from our own farm, which saved us much money to make new clothes. In warm afternoons, grandma would gather all her tools and materials including needles and thread, scissors, cloths, and cotton onto her bed and after putting on her presbyopic glasses, she began the sewing work.                                
                      First, she measured my body and cut out the coat and trousers out of the cloth making sure they fitted me well. Then she put layers of cotton onto the cut-out cloths to make them thick enough to keep warm in winter. Finally, she began to pass the needle through the cloths, back and forth. Being a kid, I especially liked watching my nanny doing the needle work, assuming that nanny was the craftiest artist in our village. While sewing, grandma was used to telling me old stories from her childhood set in her hometown 30 kilometers southwest of where we lived. She talked of how they went hungry in the wartime and how they saved pancakes for soldiers in the front lines. I listened and nodded frequently, though I merely heard half of the story. The padded coat has been my constant companion for the first ten years of my life.                                                                                                  Later, when we entered the 1ate 1990s, great changes took places in the Chinese mainland and our economy began to take off. With plenty of money at their disposal, people were better off than ever. By then I had become a 15-year-old girl, an age when vanity would get the better of me. Considering that I may look plump and awkward in that cast-off clothing, I discarded nanny’s cotton-padded coat. Nevertheless, that gear still stays fresh in my memory up to now, reminding me of a time when grandparental love outweighs all material wealth in this world. Thirty five years has passed since my grandma made me my first padded coat. At age 85, grandma still remains a healthy and energetic lady. Seeing my son wearing a similar padded coat made by the same old rough hands, I felt great warmth inside. Wish my grandma would live her full life and be a witness of her great grandson’s wedding ceremony. 

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Comment Comment (4 comments)

Reply Report Dr.Bill.Shen 2016-2-15 13:19
I wish your wishes come true :).
Reply Report springcastle 2016-2-15 17:34
Dr.Bill.Shen: I wish your wishes come true :).
Thanks for your sincere wishes. The eldest great granddaughter of my grandma is about 8 years old. Perhaps my grandma can live well up to her wishes.  
Reply Report Dr.Bill.Shen 2016-2-15 20:10
springcastle: Thanks for your sincere wishes. The eldest great granddaughter of my grandma is about 8 years old. Perhaps my grandma can live well up to her wishes.  ...
sound very promissing. strive to have five generations under one roof.  
Reply Report LastInQueue 2016-2-18 01:40
There is Nothing like a feather down coat to keep you warm.  Soft, fluffy and very warm.  Comfortable.   
And nothing like a hand-made coat from your Grand Mother to make you feel loved in the family unit.  

GrandMa couldn't work with Down Feathers, she could only work in cotton and fabric, but GrandMa was wonderful.   
She gave me what I needed.   
It was not always pretty but she kept me safe and warm. She was the true Grandmother.   

All my life I have tried to be like her. Caring, loving, always knowing the right thing to do, to say and how to give to others.   

I have failed. I can not possibly be so wonderful as her. Maybe because I have a greedy heart.   
All I know is GrandMa was unconditional love. If you were cold she would give you her coat.  
If you were hungry she would give you the last bite of food.   

This world would be a better place with more more GrandMas. I would be a better person if I was more like her.   

I feel cold. It has been too many years since she has kept me warm.

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