Have you noticed that, besides Halloween, and an Irish pub on Saint Patty’s Day; the Christmas season is the only other time you can dress in strange, silly, and ridiculous attire – and get away with it? How many of you have ever attended, or hosted, what’s called an “Ugly Christmas Sweater Party?” Over the past few years, the popularity of these events has sky-rocketed, as young and old, have searched for the perfect ugly sweater online, as well as in vintage clothing stores, and local Salvation Army and Goodwill thrift shops. The objective is to procure a tacky and outrageous sweater, in bright red and green colors, with large depictions of reindeer, Santa, Mrs. Claus, Elves or Christmas trees, and any humorous, and often naughty, Christmas-themed saying.
We had an ugly sweater party and contest at my house, as part of last year’s holiday celebration; and guess who won the spectacular grand prize of a years of supply of tooth-breaking, decades old, candy canes? I not only won, but didn’t even buy an ugly sweater. I pulled a sweater out of the back of my closet, that my great-grandmother must have bought at a 1908-yard sale, and was passed down from generation to generation. The sweater was made of a thick and plush fabric, resembling the fur of a grizzly bear. My dog, Chase, was kind enough to loan me some of his large and varied collection of slightly chewed, stuffed toys. The ones I chose were small, life-like, and depicted a variety of animals, such as: a hedgehog, ground squirrel, cute chipmunk, rabbit, groundhog, and a black and white skunk. I spent hours, meticulously sewing the creatures onto my ancient sweater. The final result of my endeavor was, what looked like a scene from a horror film. Can you envision, a large, fur-covered man, engaged in a valiant fight for his very existence, as rabid creatures of the forest cover his upper body in a horrifying feeding frenzy. It was so cool.
This Christmas season, I was thinking of possibly opening an ugly sweater boutique. I certainly have enough unfashionable sweaters, stored away in multiple closets and cardboard boxes in my basement, to supply every ugly sweater party in the entire northeastern United States. I’ve been receiving not only ugly, but unbelievably hideous and often disturbing sweaters from my wife, kids, and in-laws for the past twenty years. I don’t think I’ve had a birthday, Father’s Day or Christmas, when I didn’t receive at least one sweater that invoked either shock or uncontrolled laughter from everyone who saw it. I once, as part of the Christmas spirit; cleaned out my closet and donated about a third of my collection of ugly sweaters to charity. Three days later a group of homeless men showed up at my doorstep and returned them to me. One of them said, “Look mister. We may be down on our luck, it’s pretty cold outside, and we really appreciate the thought, but come on man – look at these things!” Who knows. Maybe ugly ties will become popular. I must have two hundred of them hanging in my closet.
Did you ever wonder who came up with the idea of turning a nightmarish conglomeration of incredibly ugly-looking, Father’s Day, Birthday, and Christmas gifts, into a cool holiday tradition. Was some poor, pitiful guy, clutching a club soda, as he picked at the buffet table at his Christmas office party? Was he also wearing a bright red cardigan, with a picture of Santa on the front, and lamenting his lonely and meaningless existence, when the idea popped into his head? Could there be a former accountant named, Charlie Dormwaltzer, who’s now a multi millionaire, after realizing that a sweater costing under twenty bucks at Walmart, could be sold for fifty dollars, by marketing it as a modern fashion statement? Do you think the Chinese have a national holiday dedicated to him, after more than doubling their profit margins on ugly sweaters produced by cheap labor, in bustling factories?
It’s not just ugly sweaters, which are worn as a unique fashion statement during the Christmas season. Have any of you seen the variety of hats, including the reindeer hat pictured at the beginning of this post? It resembles the hilarious cranium covering, my Uncle Bob wears on Christmas Eve, after five or six gin and tonics, as he hangs out all night under the mistletoe. I was wondering if any of you ladies out there think this is a new, exciting, and sexy fashion trend for the man in your life. If so, I may have to buy one and wear it around the office. To be honest; the male model doesn’t look too bad with a representation of a four-legged forest creature draped over his head. Do you know why? Because he’s a model! Try putting a reindeer hat on a slightly over-weight, middle-aged man with a big, red, bulbous nose from all the celebratory holiday drinks he’s been ingesting, and what have you got. Yes, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer in an ugly sweater.
Do you know my wife bought me a similar hat last year, right after Thanksgiving? She said it was an epic battle on “Black Friday,” to fend off six or seven women fighting over the last, deer-themed hat. The only difference is, the one she bought, was a more life-like depiction of one of my favorite woodland creatures. It had slightly taller and wider horns, more realistic coloring, and covered more of my face. Donning it upon my head. she told me it was cool looking, sexy, would put me in the Christmas spirit, and keep my head warm and toasty. Helping me into my insulated, light brown jacket, to beat back the autumn chill, she then sent me out into the woods to search for wild mistletoe and holly, to decorate for our Holiday celebration. I was also supposed to bring back some cedar boughs, and pine cones to make a wreath for our front door.
As I trudged across open fields, and into nearby woodlands, thick with vegetation, I noticed how my beige pants, light brown jacket, and hat, blended in with the fall foliage. I could almost imagine myself as one of the animals of the forest, silently and majestically moving amidst towering trees. I marveled at how quiet and peaceful the forest was, until a nearby rifle shot interrupted my reverie, and bullets began to ricochet off the bark of nearby trees. Soon, a large, burly man in bright orange clothing, began yelling, “I think I got him. I think I hit that crazy looking deer, with the enormous, trophy-sized rack.” It was only then, as I hastily discarded my reindeer hat, and made a mad dash for the cover of nearby thickets, that I remembered something. Hey, today is the start of hunting season!