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…?

Ho-Ho-Hum

Christmas is over, and I’ve completed my annual pilgrimage to the mall.

No, not for Boxing Day shopping.  I don’t care if it’s “80% off, everything must go”.  I’ll cheerfully pay twice as much in January if it means I get to avoid anything resembling a retail outlet for the next week.

On the contrary, I engaged in a personal and private ritual I’ve upheld for the last fourteen years, ever since we moved into our house a few blocks away from the mall.

Each year, on Christmas Day, I stroll over to the mall to stand in awe and wonder, contemplating the grand sweep of empty parking lot.

Quite apart from the fact that wide-open spaces make me happy, I also enjoy the knowledge that it’s one day out of the year when most people get the day off.

I know there are lots of people still toiling behind the scenes.  Our wonderful police and emergency services are working harder than ever while the rest of us, freed from our common-sense work routines, rush around making sure we do as many life-threatening things as possible.  Meanwhile, our transit keeps moving and our communications systems keep talking and our passenger planes keep flying.

I’m thankful for all the people in essential services who keep our world running regardless of religious or secular holidays.

But the convenience stores were hard at it on Christmas Day, too.  Since when did it become “essential” for us to have immediate access to a bottle of pop or a pack of smokes?

Cue grumpy old woman:  ‘Way back when, there were no convenience stores (at least not in our neck of the woods).  All the stores were closed two days a week – always Sunday, and either Saturday or Monday.  Nobody died from potato-chip deprivation.

Granted, it was a little inconvenient if we were baking and we ran out of eggs or milk or something, but we planned ahead.  We kept enough on hand, and in the worst-case scenario, we did without.  After all, it was only a couple of days.

*gasp*

I know; it was primitive.

It was also… relaxing.

Don’t get me wrong, I take advantage of seven-day-a-week shopping like everybody else.  We all lead busy lives, and it’s great to be able to just pop in and grab what I need whenever I think of it.

It’s just that I like the idea of taking a break sometimes.  Forget “holy” days – nobody can agree on those anyway.  But wouldn’t it be nice to set aside a handful of days a year when everybody calls a halt?

I expect there would be an uproar from retailers and consumers and probably even workers at the mere suggestion that malls could close occasionally.  I won’t be surprised if very soon the Christmas Day closure becomes a thing of the past, too.

So, while it lasts, I go and enjoy the empty parking lot.

Slow down.  Take a breath.

Ho-ho-hum.

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P.S. I’m giving away two signed copies of Never Say Spy over on Goodreads – the contest closes Jan. 1/13.  Pop on over if you’re interested!