When I told my best friend our first baby was going to be a boy, some of the first words out of her mouth were, “Oh my gosh, we HAVE to go through my tub of baby clothes!” And so we did.

We spent an afternoon sitting on the floor in her living room sifting through the box that had been sitting in storage since her son was a baby.

With every item she held up came a story, and I could hear the emotion in her voice as she shared each one. She beamed, albeit a bit teary, as she handed the clothes to me, assuring me that she was so happy they were going to a good home.

At the time, I don’t think I fully appreciated the significance of that moment—but I do now.

Thank you, sweet friend, for passing on the love only a mother can know through those well-worn onesies and footie pajamas.  

Sure, I was grateful for the money she was saving us, and yes, I was aware that buying all new clothes might be silly since babies fly in and out of sizes at record speed. It wasn’t until I watched my own babies grow, though, that I realized my friend’s gift of hand-me-downs was so much more than that.

In that moment, she wasn’t just entrusting me with a pile of old clothes . . . she was entrusting me with some of her most precious memories.

Now, three-and-a-half years later, I find myself in her shoes as I lovingly sort my own sons’ outgrown clothing to pass on to their baby cousin.

With each item I pull from the over-stuffed tub in their closet, I can’t help but reminisce.

There’s the blue onesie our oldest son wore home from the hospital.

There’s the t-shirt that got smeared with chocolate frosting in the cake smash at his first birthday party.

There are the pajamas our younger son was wearing when he giggled for the very first time—a moment that will be etched in my mind forever.

I could go on for hours; each outfit representing a moment of time, a special part of our family’s story.

They’re all of the sentimental pieces of clothing that I couldn’t quite bring myself to take to Goodwill, but that I might possibly be willing to part with knowing they’re going to another little boy who holds a special place in our hearts.

It’s almost as if passing clothes along to our nephew completes some sort of sweet giving circle, and when my sister-in-law sends me a photo of him wearing something that was so dear to my own sons’ babyhood . . . well, I’m done for.

Cue the tears and the swelling of this mama’s heart.

It’s the everyday sentiments of motherhood that make this the greatest job there is, and let’s be honest, it doesn’t get much more sentimental than the tiny clothes in which we watch our babies grow. I hope my best friend knows the extent of my gratitude for her gift, and that my sister-in-law can feel the love that surrounds every cherished piece of clothing we have passed her way.

Hand-me-downs get a bad rap, but the stories they tell are far more valuable than any ol’ straight-off-the-hanger garment you can buy at the local mall. The fabrics, even when well-loved and worn, hold the sweetest memories of time gone by.

And those . . . are the loveliest things we can ever hope to hand down.

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Casey Huff

Casey is a middle school teacher turned stay-at-home-mama to three littles. It's her mission as a writer to shine light on the journey of a young wife and mom; the good, the bad, and always the real. When she's not writing, Casey is likely to be yelling COME DOWN FROM THERE! or DON'T LICK YOUR BROTHER!, and procrastinating on the housework.  To read more, go hang out with Casey at: Facebook: Bouncing Forward Instagram: @bouncing_forward