Sometimes people ask me why all of our pajamas are new. Here's why: besides the basic hygiene issue, there is something wonderful about brand new pajamas - they provide a sense of comfort and the joy of wearing something fresh, entirely your own. There's no feeling in the world like taking off the clothes you've worn all day - the outfit you've worked in, sweated in, been restricted in -- in anticipation of putting on the soft, warm, and cozy pajamas you know are waiting for you. It's such a liberating feeling to slip into clothing that makes you feel at ease, gives you the signal to relax, let go of the day, be yourself, and enjoy some peace and quiet.
New pajamas are particularly special to these children because for a lot of them, nighttime was and may still be, miserable. It might've meant listening to a fight between their parents, maybe having to leave in the middle of the night, maybe being torn from their home with nothing but the clothes on their back.
When they go to bed, there may be no pajamas and no storybooks to comfort them, and the tight, soiled clothes they wear all day remain on them all night. The room they sleep in can be dark and in the moments before sleep a child replays in her mind all that happened that day and all that might happen tomorrow. It's no different from what we adults do. Sleep is not welcome as it brings nightmares, and tossing and turning only drives up their anxiety.
A "new" anything is very rare and magical to these children. A pair of new pajamas and a book gives them comfort, yes, but it also gives them a sense that someone cares, someone is looking out for them, someone wants them to put on these special pajamas and read a happy story or look at pretty pictures for a while. We let them know they are not forgotten, that someone somewhere wants them to be cozy and warm, to feel safe and protected from bad things in the night. It gives them hope that things are getting better, that one day soon they won't be afraid anymore because someone out there cares.