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The Joy of Neckties

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As I was writing this and thinking about what specifically brings me joy, I realized that there are a lot of things in my life that make me happy…my relationships, my livelihood, my dog, among many others. I also realized that there was one specific thing that actually brings me triple pleasure. It’s my neckties.

Most men don’t wear ties these days except perhaps for bankers, funeral directors and politicians, who usually wear traditional red-striped ties without much character. Or men attending some formal affair like a wedding or an award banquet.

I am not talking about that kind of businessman-type tie. I’m talking about fanciful ties that express joyfulness. Colorful ties that help brighten a dreary day. Ties that attract and cheer up others. For many men today, wearing a tie may not appeal to them, or may even seem old-fashioned, or silly, but not to me because neckties bring me joy on multiple levels. First, when I buy them. Second, when I wear them. And third, when others comment on them.

Simply buying a tie brings me enjoyment. A well-made silk tie can be very expensive. But one of the thrills I get is when I find a fun one, or one with an unusual colorful fabric, especially when it has been severely marked down. This frequently happens in department stores as seasons change and also in discount shops selling one-of-a-kind, high-end European clothing. I’ve often acquired a tie that originally sold for well over $100 marked down to $10 or so.

I don’t often wear bowties but I saw one online recently that was so much fun I just had to purchase it. It looked like a watermelon. The edges were green and white, like the rind, and the center was pink with black seed-like marks. Even the container it came in brought a smile to my face. It was in a small box with straw-like material, as if the watermelon tie were lying in a field of hay.

The second joy I get from ties is when I select one to wear. It not only sets the tone for the day but also brings back a happy memory of where I was when I either discovered it, bought it at a bargain price or when, in some cases, it was given to me as a gift.

The third reason I wear memorable ties is that it often lifts other people up too. They remark how colorful or fun it is, which creates an opening for a spirited conversation between us. This happens even with people I don’t know, so it is also a great ice breaker. People either come over to me to tell me how much they like the tie, or shout “Great tie,” as we pass each other.

I know my obsession with ties is only a very small part of the many joyous things in my life, but it is also a reminder that small things can bring great joy. Children often remind us of this too; treasure the smallest of gifts.

In one of Erma Bombeck’s books, when she was researching kids with cancer, she recalls meeting an eight-year-old diagnosed with cancer of the nervous system. When Bombeck asked the child what she wanted for her birthday, the youngster answered, “I don’t know. I have two sticker books and a Cabbage Patch doll. I have everything!”

In spite of her difficulties, this child didn’t need much to make her happy. And neither do you. Take an inventory of all the things in your life that bring you joy and happiness.

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