Socks appear on many lists of the most boring gifts, but not for me. Because I always need them, every Christmas season I put crew socks on my wish list for the family gift exchange.
It’s not just colorful, patterned socks that I wouldn’t call a boring gift. I ask for white or black so that I can still make a pair when a sock disappears or develops holes.
This year socks were really needed. In the weeks before Christmas, it seemed a hole appeared every other time I put on a pair of socks. The back of the heel is where a sock tears on me most often. Years ago I had surgery to remove a Haglund’s bump from my right heel, but a bump remains that the podiatrist said is scar tissue. The bump must cause the socks to rub against shoes.
Gold Toe and Nike socks haven’t lasted for me. I’ve bought Hanes not expecting them to last but feeling okay about throwing them away because they’re cheap. But I’d rather not have to replace socks so often. In the long run expensive socks that last would cost less and be more environmentally responsible.
One Christmas one of my sisters gave me men’s work socks, which lasted longer than most of my socks but bunched up in my shoes because they were too big. Last year, after doing research into “indestructible socks,” I asked for Dickie’s Kevlar socks. Socks with Kevlar, a bullet-proof synthetic made by DuPont that has been used in tires, helmets, and ping-pong paddles as well as clothing, are supposed to be 15 times as durable as cotton socks. My Kevlar socks are still intact, but I haven’t given them a good run because they’re really heavy — suitable for only the coldest days. They are also made for men and therefore too big.
The following women’s socks have been recommended in various online discussions as long-lasting. I searched for socks of medium weight for everyday wear, not for hiking. They’re called “lifestyle socks” on many sites. I don’t care about having a wide selection of colors and patterns, but I prefer easy washability.
* Darn Tough socks, made in Vermont, not only get rave reviews but also come with an unconditional lifetime guarantee. As one user noted, “Because these socks have a lifetime guarantee, they're a fantastic investment that you'll only have to buy once.” Darn Tough socks are made of merino wool, nylon, and spandex. The downside is that care must be taken to avoid shrinkage in the wash. The most popular style for women, The Good Witch, comes in various stripes and retails for around $20.
* Smartwool: A lot of people I know swear by Smartwool. The socks come in many styles and colors. Since the fabric content is very similar to that of Darn Tough socks — 60 percent merino wool, 39 percent nylon, and a bit of spandex — it surprises me that some users on Metafilter report Smartwool socks are not as durable. Like Darn Tough socks, Smartwool socks must be washed carefully to avoid shrinkage. Midweight crews sell for around $20. Smartwool pop-up stores are open in Bucktown and on North Michigan Avenue for a limited time.
* Duluth Trading Company makes Stay-Put Performance crew socks with UltraSpun® polyester that, like Kevlar, is supposed to be many times more durable than cotton. The machine-washable socks are priced at $14.50 on the company website.
* Thorlo socks are made with a wicking acrylic fiber, nylon, and spandex. They are known for comfort but also get kudos for durability. They can be machine washed if bleach isn’t used. The lifestyle socks for everyday retail for around $16.
* Dickies Dri-Tech are inexpensive, unlike the preceding styles. The website advertises a six-pack for $13. Made of cotton, polyester, and a bit of nylon and spandex, the crews come in many colors and are machine washable. Users say the colors fade in the wash but the socks hold up. I’m skeptical about the durability claim, since the major fabric is cotton, but I’d give them a try for that price.
If anyone cares to recommend socks other than the above for durability, I’m interested in hearing about them.
FAREWELL TO THE SWEETEST DOG I EVER KNEW
Pet companions tell stories about their pets choosing the right time to die. Impossible to prove that an animal can really do that, but my sister’s dog Sammy added another story to the lore.
Sammy, a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, suffered from the heart condition that plagues the breed. But at almost 13, he had lived well past his life expectancy. His veterinarian cleared him to travel to my parents’ place for Christmas. During his two days there, Sammy stopped eating and seemed disoriented. Nancy, Bob, and their two daughters returned home on the 26th. During that night, Sammy had an incident — seizure or heart attack, the vet wasn’t sure — and lost the use of his back legs. He was euthanized the morning of the 27th.
I’d like to think that Sammy chose when he would die. Bob, a teacher, was off. Alex and Ashley were home from college. His immediate family members were all there and could be with him and comfort one another. His extended family — the rest of us, who all loved him — were able to say goodbye. Before he was carried into the car on the 26th, we all stood around Sammy as Nancy held him, petting him and saying goodbye, the tears flowing. It was apparent he wouldn’t last until we next saw them at Easter, but we didn’t expect him to go as soon as he did. Once everyone said goodbye, though, what reason was there for him to wait?
Farewell, Sammy. I’ll always remember you as the sweetest dog I ever knew.
ANTI-TRUMP QUOTATIONS: 44TH IN AN ONGOING SERIES
Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, interviewed by ABC News anchor Martha Raddatz:
“If you were asked to join the Trump administration, what would you say?”
“I’d say no.”
“Do you think he’s a liar?”
“I don’t think he tells the truth.”
“Is Trump immoral in your view?
“I think he is.”