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A Sock-cessful Christmas Tale

C21 Center Associate Director Karen Kiefer, author of The Misfit Sock. (Photo by Caitlin Cunningham)

By Kathleen Sullivan | Chronicle Staff

Published: Dec. 15, 2011

It all began with a pile of mismatched socks in the laundry room.

But instead of being consigned to a trash can, the unmatched socks found new purpose in a family Christmas tradition started many years ago by Church in the 21st Century Center Associate Director Karen Kiefer and her daughters. The girls, McKenna, Madison, Emma and Rosie, decorated the socks and filled them with jingle bells, pine cones, candy, recipes and a poem. They hung the socks by red ribbons on neighbors’ front doors on Christmas Eve morning as a way to spread Christmas cheer.

Today, the Kiefer family tradition is the centerpiece of a Christmas storybook written by Kiefer and illustrated by Belgian artist Kathy De Wit. The Misfit Sock tells of a sock that loses hope after its perfect match goes missing. Unhappy and unloved, the sock is labeled a misfit and overlooked until it is transformed, through the magical spirit of Christmas, into a “gratitude sock” filled with goodies for Santa and his reindeer and elves.

The Misfit Sock tells a simple message that everyone can relate to,” said Kiefer. “Everyone deserves to be loved and find happiness. There are times we lose hope. This story is about finding a purpose and believing you are worth something.”

Kiefer also sees a strong anti-bullying lesson in the story: how labels can cause harm and make people feel marginalized. She has received orders for The Misfit Sock from families, adults, social workers and others who connect to its message.

For Kiefer, the idea for the book came to her during her eldest daughter’s serious illness — “some of the darkest days and nights of my life” — when, unable to sleep, she turned to writing as a way to occupy her restless mind.

“I didn’t have a vision for the story, like some authors do. I just felt God’s pull,” said Kiefer.

Her daughter’s illness now past, Kiefer calls The Misfit Sock experience “a blessing. I believe out of something bad, there always comes something good.”

The Misfit Sock, which is sold online, comes in a kit with its own misfit sock that can be decorated, hung on the mantle and turned into a gratitude sock for Santa and his reindeer and elves. “It’s a nice tradition for families,” said Kiefer.
To order The Misfit Sock or find more information, visit