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Christmas Sweaters: Wear 'Em With Pride

Christmas Sweaters: Wear 'Em With Pride

A version of this originally appeared in The Virginian-Pilot on December 3, 2002

Now that December has blown into town it's clear to anyone with eyes that womankind is divided in two distinct camps: those with the self-confidence to wear colorful Christmas sweaters. And those without.

Every year around this time I confess to owning a Christmas sweater. I see it as my public duty. To stand shoulder to sparkly shoulder with those who don't give a figgie pudding about fashion. Not in December anyway.

First of all, let's tackle those ridiculous objections to the annual wearing of Christmas sweaters.

No. 1. Christmas sweaters make you look fat.

Of course they do. So what? By wearing one of these garish garments you are telling the world that you love the holidays so much that you don't mind looking like you've spent the past 12 months consuming nothing but sugar cookies and eggnog.

And imagine how surprised your non-Christmas-sweater-wearing friends will be when you remove yours in January and no longer look like a Christmas dumpling. They'll wonder how you lost weight over the holidays.

No. 2. Christmas sweaters are tacky.

No, they're not. Halloween sweaters are tacky.

No. 3. Christmas sweaters are ugly.

Absolutely. In fact, they're hideous. The entire genre is one gigantic fashion faux pas. So what? Do what I do. Don't look in the mirror.

 My Christmas sweater is long gone, but it looked an awful lot like this...only tackier.

My Christmas sweater is long gone, but it looked an awful lot like this...only tackier.

When I bought my sweater a decade ago, I actually believed I'd found the world's only elegant Christmas sweater. A crimson cardigan with a forest of nubby Christmas trees. I thought I looked cute in it. Until I caught my reflection, that is.

Wearing Christmas trees around one's mid-section is not flattering to any body type. Trust me on this one. Paired with leggings, my beloved sweater makes me look like a candy apple on a stick.

I wear it anyway.

Sad to say, my own home has become a Christmas sweater battleground.

My fashionista teenager cringes at the sight of them, whether I'm wearing mine or our poodle is wearing hers.

My daughter has been this way since the second grade when I bought her a bright red pullover festooned with candy canes and snowmen and sent her off to the school holiday musical. (Hiding under the sweater was a white turtleneck with a big hot chocolate stain.)

Imagine my horror when the lights dimmed, the band played the first chords of "Jingle Bells" and the curtain rose. There was my darling daughter, standing front and center with all the other short kids in a sea of seasonal sweaters.

Hers, however, was AWOL.

In its place was the rumpled turtleneck with a big brown bull's-eye on the front.

I slouched in my seat and tried to avert my eyes.

It may have been my imagination, but I thought I heard tittering in the audience. Mothers snickering that someone had sent their child to school - on the day of the holiday show, no less - in a soiled shirt. And without a Christmas sweater!

When I located my sweaterless offspring backstage I was trembling inside of mine.

"Where is your sweater?" I hissed.

"I took it off," she replied coolly. "I hate Christmas sweaters. They look dorky."

Stung by her rejection, I avoided the topic of Christmas sweaters for the next six years. But last week, as the two of us wandered through the mall full of holiday cheer, I spied a table piled high with Christmas crew necks and cardigans.

From a distance it looked like some might even have battery-operated appliques. Running reindeer! Prancing pine cones! Saluting Santas!

I couldn't resist.

"Let's get matching sweaters," I suggested merrily, reaching for my credit card.

"You're insane," she said, sprinting for the door.

Christmas couture. Some people just don't get it.

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