The Christmas Sweater Conundrum

Christmas will be here in only three days, and I have a confession:  Even though I hear about them all the time, I’ve never seen an ugly Christmas sweater.

Apparently everyone else has. Everybody makes fun of them.  Before COVID, there were even entire parties dedicated to the wearing of ugly Christmas sweaters. 

And I… just don’t get it.

I mean, obviously I’ve seen Christmas-themed sweaters, in all sorts of patterns and colours.  And (as I discovered when I searched “ugly Christmas sweaters” on the internet) they’re frequently *ahem* off-colour.  And educational.  For example, I never would have thought of painstakingly knitting a sweater that features reindeer having a threesome.  I learn something new every day.

But (excluding the one with Santa taking a dump down the chimney, which was just gross) I still didn’t find an ‘ugly’ sweater. 

I have a design degree (though admittedly I sucked at design) and I understand colour theory.  So, Christmas sweaters use complementary colour schemes and not-so-subtle patterns; but so what?  I still don’t see where the ‘ugly’ comes in.

They’re bright, for sure.  Sometimes literally, if you get one with built-in lights and batteries.  But since when is ‘bright’ a synonym for ‘ugly’?  Is calling them ‘ugly’ just preemptive self-deprecation by people who secretly love to wear them, but fear that some Grinch-hearted fashion guru will mock them?  Are our adult lives really so dull and sad and drab that we’re not allowed to break out some exuberant over-the-top colour just once a year?

Or… (this is a distinct possibility) is this just another example of my general lack of fashion sense?  Go ahead, lay it out there.  I can take it.  😉

But regardless of the Christmas sweater conundrum… if you celebrate Christmas, I wish you a very merry one.  If you don’t, I wish you joy in whatever tradition or ritual you do observe; or I wish you the contentment of no celebrations at all.  Sometimes the quiet moments are the most precious.

May peace, health, happiness, and prosperity be yours, now and in the New Year!

Book 17 update: I’ve just hit Chapter 6, and things are getting complicated in Aydan’s world already. Stemp has been suspended pending an official inquiry, and charming liar Agent Ian Rand has a mysterious message he insists on delivering in person. What could possibly go wrong…?

28 thoughts on “The Christmas Sweater Conundrum

  1. Well having once owned many Christmas sweaters ( the clinic i worked at let us wear them all of December), I appreciate your idea on the non ugly aspect. I do think we, and I include myself in this, are very influenced by the fashion of the day. I mean in the days of permed hair and shoulder pads the Christmas sweaters fit right in . Or at least I thought so.
    At any rate I hope you had a lovely Christmas and managed to wear many beautiful holiday tops.


    • Thanks, Sue — I hope you had a great Christmas, too! And I’m glad to hear you enjoyed your Christmas sweaters. Ugly or not, I think they’re great fun!

      Ah, shoulder pads. I loved them. I used to buy tops and take the shoulder pads out, and for the first time ever I had blouses that fit my broad shoulders and long arms properly. After the shoulder pad era, I gave up and have only bought stretchy tops since. 😉


  2. Hope you had a great Christmas and your New Year came in with lots of snow????? Our Seattle kids got s reasonable amount!! Ugly sweater….I find them very entertaining regardless of what they get classified as “ugly or creative”. Santa dumping down the chimney definitely does cross the line into the realm of “really??”. LOL…Looking forward to book 17!!


    • Thanks, Kirt! We did get a lot of snow — it’s been snowing just about every day here for the past three weeks. Apparently we’re supposed to have one more big dump of snow tonight, and then (hopefully) back to seasonal temps. We’ll see. The weatherman keeps promising nicer weather but doesn’t always deliver. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I believe the word they used at design school Di, was “kitsch”. I guess I did learn something while I was snoozing through art history class. (FYI, it was interesting, just too damn early in the morning!) Remember the Japanese woman who said “Ummm”, every second word?


    • OMG, I’d forgotten all about “Ummm-lady”! (Or maybe I slept through the whole thing. Entirely possible.) I do like “kitsch” as a convenient shorthand for “I’m gonna do whatever I want and I have the attitude to go with it”. Come to think of it, my whole life is kind of an exercise in kitsch. 😉


  4. Never had a Christmas sweater. a Christmas tie somewhere if I look. The notion of needing to rip a t-shirt off in a hurry sounds intriguing . Seems to me Diane Keaton used a scissors to cut her sweater up the centre in Something’s got to give.
    Hope you had a good Christmas and all the best in 2022


    • Thanks, and the same to you! I like the idea of a Christmas tie — a way to make wearing a tie a bit more fun (maybe). I’ve never had to wear one, so I wouldn’t know. But it seems to me that if you’re going to tie a little noose around your neck, at least its pattern should make you smile. 😉


  5. I think they’re actually called “Christmas sweaters” and someone decided to commercialize them by adding the word “ugly” in front of it and “party” behind it. I’ve never seen one with my own eyes, either, but my husband told me they were very popular, when he worked at an Amazon warehouse two years ago. This season, he briefly worked at a Macy’s warehouse and didn’t pack any Christmas sweaters. A different shopping crowd…

    Happy holidays to you and your hubby too, Diane. I agree that a quiet time is the best way to celebrate. This year anyway. 🙂


  6. Oh how I wish you were in the states!! You’d love my office… All you hear all day is laughter, giggles, critical conversation pauses and Who in their right mind bought you that. Or where the hell did you buy that. The smirky comments are met with great cheer, laughter and disbelief that we have the woohaa to wear that ugly dang thing at work. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!


  7. I have to say I don’t get the ugly sweater thing either. Now, there are Christmas sweaters I’d never wear due to certain, er “Design considerations,” but I’d never call them ugly. Maybe highly personal choices or eccentric personalities or unique experimental designs, but one person’s ugly is another’s perfection. People spend too much time judging and not enough time enjoying.

    Also, I don’t wear pullover sweaters. Cardigans, yes, but anything I have to pull over my head is just not going on this body. I wear button down shirts, zipper jackets and cardigans. I might wear a tee-shirt or polo shirt in hot weather, but generally I like to be able to rip a shirt/swear/jacket off quickly – you never know when you’d need to do that. A pullover just becomes a trap that’s not easily removed.


    • I feel the same way about pullovers — never wear them. I wear zippered sweaters and jackets instead. I do wear T-shirts all the time; but the occasions on which one of those would need to be rapidly removed are… *ahem* …Well, let’s just say that if I think I might have to remove a garment fast due to a safety issue like rotating equipment or welding sparks or hot splattering liquid, I won’t be wearing just a T-shirt. Any other circumstances requiring rapid T-shirt removal are probably not life-threatening. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  8. The Christmas sweater conundrum is explained today in an email by another of my favourite authors, Sara Rosett . If you haven’t already done so, do read her books. Think you’ll enjoy them as much as I do. Saved your blog with all the pics of your lovely plants in the fall and re-read it every so often for all the beauty there. Love your books and your always entertaining blog! Merry Christmas, peace and love and hugs and HEALTH! Gail Radford-Ross, formerly of Nanaimo for 9.5 years, just moved back to Edmonton – and the wonderful weather here! – to be with my granddaughter, her husband and their twins born May 2020. Should be a lively and lovely Christmas with them!


    • Thanks Gail! I enjoy Sara’s books, too. She’s one of the (many) authors on my “to-buy” list. (So many great books, so little time…)

      Ah, Edmonton weather. How glorious (not). But at least it’s sunnier than Nanaimo in the winter. 😉 Happy Christmas to you and your family – it sounds as though it will be wonderful!


  9. My take on the ugly sweater thing is based on the stuff that mean spirited and/or untalented female relatives used to foist off on the grandkids. Sleeves much too long and not even the same length. Patterns crooked and mismatched. That’s an ugly sweater.


  10. This is a totally alien concept to me. Our Christmas is HOT. Sometimes very bloody hot. Any sweater is an ugly thought at this time of year.
    The Merriest of everything to you at this season and for the year(s) to come.


  11. I think the ugly sweater fad is based on the type of sweater we’d expect from a non-artistic grandmother or other relative with, say, a poorly executed Santa or reindeer in overly simplistic color themes done in a blocky representation of the subject at hand. Also, adorn it with too many X’s or snowflakes, and some bold color stripes for good measure. Something you’d only wear to the family Xmas party in order to not upset the person who knitted it for you, in other words.

    (Although we could possibly apply this to hockey–an Oilers “sweater,” aka jersey, is probably ugly/offensive to long-suffering Maple Leaf fans. 😁 )

    I’ll just lounge around in my sweats and be comfortable, thank you! Sweaters make me itchy anyway. And I’ll probably need stretchy “buffet pants” for any extra food I may indulge in this season.

    Happy Holidays to you and yours! 🎄


    • Thanks, Rudy! Not being a rabid sports fan myself, the potential ugliness of the opposing teams’ logos never occurred to me, but I’m sure you’re right about the hockey jerseys. 😉 And also about the execution of the sweater design — that’s something I didn’t take into account. I guess we all have those things we treasure or tolerate because of the love that created them. Funny how sometimes the worst-looking things end up being the most meaningful (if not necessarily the most loved).

      I’m getting out my stretchy pants, too. One turkey + two people = Pig-out! Enjoy your feast! 🙂


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