Why She Has Antlers on Her Bosom
My mother found a box of Christmas sweaters in her closet a few weeks ago.
She didn't know where they came from, which isn't a surprise; Mama is one shopping trip away from qualifying for "Hoarders."
Mama told me my sisters went through the box and excitedly called dibs on them until all the sweaters were claimed. My sisters and Christmas sweaters? I had no idea. Suddenly, my sisters seemed like strangers to me.
My idea of festive attire is switching from my usual neutral shade of lipstick to red while sticking with my favorite clothing color, black. I'd be more likely to use a Christmas sweater as a dust rag than to wear it, and they, my blood relatives, were scurrying to get them? Incomprehensible.
At least my friends and I are in agreement on that point. When one of my BFFs suggested to our book club that we wear tacky Christmas sweaters for the December gathering, we laughed boisterously.
The use of the adjective "tacky" to describe Christmas sweaters is redundant, we said. Can you see us wearing anything so awful? we asked. Let's do it, we decided.
Despite agreeing, I was unenthusiastic. I was downright Scrooge-like about spending money on an article of clothing I would never wear again. Not wanting to be the party pooper, though, I shopped around town for something hideous. If I was going to be tacky, I wanted the mac daddy of all, something seriously ostentatious.
I sought something similar to what I saw in a mall seven Christmases ago. Then a new and awkward mother, I took a break from shopping to nurse my 4-week-old infant. I was feeling self-conscious even before I noticed a woman gaping at me from the bench opposite where I sat.
The expression on her face communicated distaste, maybe disgust, at my public feeding. I broke eye contact, hastily looking down. Which is when I noticed what she was wearing. Her maroon sweater was emblazoned with a reindeer face. Some of the reindeer's features were three-dimensional: red cotton nose, jingly bells on the collar, and giant antlers on his head.
Hello? She was put off by me when she had six-inch stuffed felt antlers protruding from her bosom?
Yes, that was the kind of tacky sweater I envisioned for book club. I never found it. At least, I didn't find it for a reasonable price. Did you know you can buy one unsightly article of clothing for the same amount you'd spend on a cute outfit, as in an entire ensemble?
I was confounded by what motivates people to spend good money on tacky Christmas sweaters. At the risk of being offensive to my sisters, I asked them to help me understand.
Two sisters, both teachers, said they do it for the kids: "Their little faces just light up!" That I could understand, but what about the sister who works for the state in a spartan office where there are no children to delight?
"A Christmas sweater is like decorations for your tree," Susan explained. "You have to pick the one that reflects your personality."
She added pragmatically, referring to perceived figure flaws, "And if you can't hide it, decorate it."
"Decorate it" is exactly what I did for book club. I took a red sweater from my closet and sewed on a few ugly ball ornaments. When I put the sweater on the night of my meeting, I was pleased with what I saw. I must have been subconsciously inspired by Antler Bosom while I was sewing, for there, on my own bosom, were two large ball ornaments. Tackiness achieved!
The Christmas sweater meeting behind me, I've reached a place of enlightenment about Christmas sweaters. Who I am to judge someone wearing a top that jingles with every step when I'm dressed almost Scroogely in black (but with red lipstick, of course)?
Whatever you wear to celebrate the season, may you have a merry Christmas!
Contact freelance writer Melanie Coughlin at email@example.com.
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