Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Please Remove Your Shoes...and other Canadian Curiosities

Once upon a time I went to Canada as a young 15-year-old girl visiting my best friend.  I planned my outfits carefully and packed as many outfits, including shoes, as I could in my suitcase.  (This was back in the day when flying with a suitcase was free and there was no 50 lb. limit. Ahhh...those were the days.  Wait. Did I just age myself?).  So, imagine my surprise when I landed and found out that shoes were not allowed in Canada.  I'm kidding. Sort-of.

You see, it is a part of Canadian culture to remove your shoes when you enter someone's home.  Shoes are welcome in any public place, obviously. But, listen you Americans! Don't you dare wear your heels or boots or flip flops or whatever it is your feet are transported in, into a Canadian home. You take those bad boys off!

But what do I do with my shoes, you ask?

As I learned when I was 15, you take your shoes off and put them by the door.  That's right.  You'd better hope that you aren't wearing your "special smelling" socks when you pop by someone's house.  Because it's socks, not shoes, that are welcome in Canadian households.

So, I'm going to try my best not to offend either side of this situation.  Because, listen, I can surely see the necessity of having guests take off their shoes in a northern climate.  Vancouver gets more rain than almost anywhere in North America.  I don't want mud on my floors! And what about snow and slush in the winter?  Another good reason for taking off shoes.

But...I'm not gonna lie.  The whole concept is a foreign thing to me. Obviously, being from the south, I wasn't raised removing my shoes every time I entered a house.  In fact,  if I ever took my shoes off in a person's house we were visiting, it was considered rude.

So, at 15 years old, I had certain questions run through my head.  Questions I still struggle with.  For example:  What if you have really stinky feet?  Like the kind of stink that doctors have to treat?  That could be embarrassing.  Or what if your socks have holes all in them because those were the only clean socks you could find that particular day? (Yes, I'm speaking from experience. Don't judge me, man).  What if you are wearing hose that you don't want to snag?

But, and this is the most important question of all, what if your shoes MAKE the outfit? GIRLS!?!?! WOMEN!?!?! Do you hear me? What if you are only 5 feet tall (cough cough) and almost every pair of jeans requires  heels or wedges? When the shoes are taken off, you look deflated. What if it's winter time and you are wearing boots with leggings? And then you have to take the boots off? Outfit destroyed. What if you are going over to a friend's house for dinner and you get all cute with skinny jeans and boots and leg warmers.  And then you get there...you just take it all off?  These are the questions I need answered!

So...I've made a decision for our Canadian-mostly-American home.  Once we have one, that is.  All guests will not be allowed to take off their shoes.  Unless, of course, it's a horribly rainy or snowy day.  But, if it is beautiful outside or if their shoes are clean, I want our guests to know that in the Friesen house...shoes are welcome! Shoes of all shapes and sizes.  So those with smelly feet: you are welcome! No need to be embarrassed anymore! Those who love their new boots: c'mon over and show them off!
Those who have an aversion to picking through other people's shoes to find their own (this has happened to me and it almost scarred me), you are welcome in our house!

I've picked through much larger piles than this. Disgusting is what that is!
I think I will have a sign at our house that says "please KEEP your shoes on!" But, because I've never lived there and my opinion is entitled to change, I will keep one on hand like this that I saw on pinterest:

Or, I may pull that sign out on days that I just don't feel like vacuuming. Which may be more days than not.

For my American friends, here's a totally un-related picture series of beautiful Vancouver.  We will be living there in (gulp!) 16 days.


  1. I never had a shoes-on/shoes-off predisposition one way or the other, until we moved into a house with almost white carpet. And at that point I had a baby crawling around on it much of the time.

    My dad built us a bench seat that fits by the door and holds two rows of shoes and also provides a place to sit down while putting them on or taking them off. I periodically consider the appearance of my carpet and ponder, "How bad would it be if we were a shoes ON house!" :) By the way, I am not militant with friends when they come over, and if someone has an aversion, I don't go and yank their shoes off. I just state my preference, but leave it with them (and I don't get upset if they choose to leave them on).

    I did however have strong feelings about toilet paper coming off the roll over the top until I had babies, and realized that over the top was like an INVITATION to the babies to unravel it all on the floor. So we switched until all were past that phase.

    Enjoy your new adventure, and I will remember to keep my shoes on if ever I visit your house, and feel free to keep yours on if you ever visit mine :)

  2. I want to come see you in Vancouver! The city looks is beautiful!!

  3. well i must be canadian because i take my shoes off when i enter my house, my moms house and any home i feel comfy in! and i ask ppl to take their shoes off when they come over, it has helped to keep the beige carpet beige!!

  4. You are way too funny. I am glad though that we get to wear our shoes when we come to visit. I am with you on the whole outfit being made by the shoe. We will miss you.