Every year at this time young Mennonites around the world anticipate the annual giving and receiving of socks to commemorate the birth of the Saviour.
“It’s the most disappointing time of the year,” said young Peter F. Gerbrandt of Steinbach. “Every year I ask for a new Xbox game, and every single year it’s just piles and piles of socks.”
Older Mennonites defend the practice of sock-giving as a firm and unchangeable part of the Mennonite faith.
“When I was young, my parents gave me socks,” explained Peter’s father. “And their parents gave them socks. Mennonites have given socks as gifts for centuries. There’s no changing that now.”
While some Mennonites continue to give hand-knit socks, others haven taken to buying them in bulk at Wal-Mart.
“I can get a couple dozen pairs made in a sweatshop in Indonesia for just a few dollars,” explained the elder Gerbrandt. “That’s pretty efficient gift-buying, if you ask me. One pair of socks for each grandchild and perhaps a stick of gum if they’ve been really good this year.”
Peter said he stopped making a Christmas list years ago and usually tries to sleep in as late as possible on Christmas morning.
“What’s the point of getting up at the crack of dawn if all I’m getting is a pair of Wal-mart socks,” said Peter. “Maybe one day I’ll get something fun or interesting, but I’m not holding my breath.”