On Inauguration Day 2021, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wore a pair of mittens I made for him in 2016. I gave them to him as a gift of encouragement and care after he lost the Democratic nomination for the 2016 presidential election. It was a simple act of kindness about which I had mostly forgotten.
Bernie was photographed wearing the mittens and sitting by himself, waiting for the inauguration to start. This photo was turned into hundreds of thousands of memes that circulated worldwide. In less than an hour, people had found me on Twitter, identified me as the creator of those cozy mittens, and started filling up my gmail account with requests for mittens and media interviews.
With no warning, my quiet life as a 2nd grade Vermont school teacher, a mother, and a devoted partner was propelled into a mitten frenzy. While I never could have predicted this outcome, my life has taken me in the direction of public figure and agent for positive change.
I find so much joy in my life as a mother, teacher, partner, and friend. I don’t want to go into the mitten making business full time. However, I am going to use this moment of fame to spread a simple message: Generosity Brings Joy.
People all over the world have enjoyed making, sharing and laughing about the Bernie Sanders Mitten Memes! They are so funny. Isn’t that what we needed in this moment of history? Our world is being crushed by the deadly Covid-19 pandemic. Our country is politically divided. People have lost their jobs, their family members, and their hope. Yet there were the memes, reminding us that we can all share laughter and joy regardless of our differences.
This is the lesson life has taught me again and again: If you give of yourself—not just material gifts, but your time, your good will, your kindness—you receive joy. It’s that simple. You don’t have to be rich to care; you just have to be human. We all have so many gifts, and the world is a better place when we share them.