30 October

Next Up: Mittens For Babies In The Winter. God’s Work.

by Jon Katz

This week, two Amish fathers came to me and asked for help getting mittens for their daughters. Thanks to the Amish, many toddlers live here, and this is about to be their first winter.

I accepted this task; it is much simpler than the boots. And they will, of course, pay for the mittens that I buy. I met with the mothers, saw the children, and got a good sense of the sizes I needed to find.

There are, as there always are, some complications. Nothing is straightforward for the plain people.

The color must be dark, the design functional and straightforward. No frills or dancing ducks.

There are hundreds of mittens for children online; very few are dark or without designs. I did find some. (I have what I need, thanks, I don’t need any help.)

I’m getting insulated snow mittens and will buy them for five very young children.

There is no trouble finding them and no problem buying them.

I went online yesterday, and they’ll be here well before the snow and ice. When they come, I’ll take them to the parents and get their approval. If there are any problems, I’ll return them.

(I also bought a bunch of mittens for the Mansion residents and a dozen pairs for the Afghan refugees.)

This is the sort of task that gives me great pleasure. It’s easy for me, it helps the families, and it makes me feel useful. For them, getting dark mittens is much more complicated than sitting at my computer and now quite familiar with shopping outlets of all kinds.

The Amish, who can’t go online or use their cellphones, lose many connections when they move. For a while, they are at the mercy of friends and neighbors. Eventually, they’ll make new connections, which they are very good at.

This work is not charity; it is a different kind of support, a piece of the community, an act of neighborliness and friendship. My Amish neighbors even offer to pay me for my time, as well as the things I buy for them.

These tasks give me meaning and focus.

The Amish live complex lives, suffering is a part of it,  but some things could be easier. I look for those simple opportunities, and we are coming to understand one another. They trust me to find what they need at reasonable prices.

Helping babies and young children be warm in the winter is a gift for me, as much or more as it is helpful to them.


    1. I don’t think they need to explain that, Anne, and I wouldn’t ask them to. I’m sure good snow mittens are not easy to knit. But I don’t consider it my business. They make all of their own clothes.Not all Amish women knit, there are lots of different interests and needs for them to pursue.

    2. P.S. Anne, most Amish women sew, very few knit. They are associated with quilts, not knitting. And I truly am disturbed having to write this.

      1. Jon, don’t understand why you would be disturbed about having to write this. Never thought my question would bring out negative feelings. My ancestors on my mother’s side were Pennsylvania Dutch so I am familiar with Amish beliefs, although PD were never as strict as the Amish. I truly thought it was an innocent question, won’t bother you anymore.

        1. Anne, my apologies. This is a big issue for me, and it’s very hard for me sometimes to separate the wheat from the chaff; I was shocked by some of the e-mail I got and didn’t publish. But I shouldn’t have taken that out on you. I thought your comment felt judgemental, I’m sure you didn’t mean it that way, and things took off in a direction I didn’t want either. I’m sorry for that. You are very welcome here and are no bother.

          There is so much hate and judgment out there; it gets to me.

          I hope we can let this go and move alone. This is the last subject I expected would be controversial, and I see you didn’t mean it that way; sadly, others did. Not your fault, my bad. I do apologize.

  1. Mitten for young children are very straight forward, Many, if not most, are one compartment around the hand.
    They can actually be sewn. What’s important is the fabric – in my humble opinion, felted wool is the warmest.

    1. Peg, my apologies, but I have no interest in hosting a public discussion on the content of child mittens the Amish mothers choose to buy, or how mittens are made. Three billion people don’t need to know.This is not something I need to know or want to know either, and it’s the last post on the subject I’ll allow here.

      Social media has simply gone off the rails, taking our boundaries with it, I won’t enable it. The Amish Families have the right to choose any mittens they wish, of any kind of fabric, and keep it to themselves. They don’t need to explain or justify or debate their mittens. More and more,I understand why they have kept apart from our world.
      Let’s move on.

        1. Neither did I, Ingrid. My comments were not about hostility The issues for me are privacy and boundaries. I may be the last person on earth who is bothered by this, but I will continue to challenge the idea that people who are mentioned on social media or who write there give up all privacy and boundaries. That’s a huge and sad change in our culture. I doubt you would ask this Amish mother, of all people, to explain why she chose to buy mittens for her children when they could be knitted (she doesn’t knit). If you met her on the street, or in her home, would you ask that question? I wouldn’t, and I see her almost every day. I just don’t see it as anybody else’s business.

          Now that I think of it, there is a flash of hostility there, the questions suggests she could be making something instead of buying it. No intention of hostility, but it’s not a question I would ever ask her, and I know her well. This is the “wow” for me.

  2. I think when enough Amish families move to your area they will open their own general store that will have items that are specific to the Amish. I’ve been to several Amish stores in Illinois and Iowa with lots of interesting items.

    1. Yes, that’s the plan and expectation…In the meantime, they could use some help. Now, there are only five or six families here and it will be some time before there are enough for a general store. There isn’t even one her for the rest of us.

  3. We are fortunate enough to live by a wonderful Amish General Store, Goods Store. A real old-fashioned type general store with goods and sundries for the Amish. The have Amish novels and toys. They even sell things online, presumably with the help of English employees. https://goodsstores.com

  4. I knit and felt mittens and they are warm, however I also ski instruct. Kids show up regularly to ski in an all day class in knitted gloves and “fashion gloves.” Kids need insulated mittens, period. Good for you Jon, for helping your neighbors out!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Email SignupFree Email Signup