This time of year I love a red cardigan – decorated with Santa and his reindeer or scenes from "The Twelve Days of Christmas."
You may hold an ugly Christmas sweater party. Not me! I think knitted tops with sleighs and elves on them are beautiful.
I know haute couture designers are never going to send Kate Moss down the runway in a pullover with a furry snowman applique.
But they should. Which would you rather see – a frowning supermodel in all gray or a smiling supermodel in a green-and-red sweater with jingle bells sewn onto it? I rest my case.
The most enthusiastic Christmas sweater wearer I know (my mother) agrees with me. "Some consider them 'tacky,' but they make me feel cheerful," she says. "And if they amuse others, that's good, too. Even if I'm being laughed at, rather than with, it's a laugh!"
She even extends her love of holiday garb to other seasons. For Halloween, she dons a T-shirt with orange pumpkins formed by sequins. For Easter, she has been known to put on a bunny sweater. "My plain old T-shirts and turtlenecks can be downright boring," she says. "Something seasonal is refreshing!"
My mom and I are not the only ones to embrace the much-maligned holiday sweater. No one seems to have formally studied whether the piece of clothing gives people a mood boost. But Nashua, N.H., psychologist Carl Hindy (co-author of If This Is Love, Why Do I Feel So Insecure?) endorses my enthusiasm for holiday-themed fashion. "It sounds like a good idea to be playful about these things," he says. "Why not ask all of your Christmas dinner guests to wear the Christmas sweater, neck tie, scarf, or other items from the past?"
The 'ugly' Christmas sweater
Of course, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Some retailers actually market their knitted holiday wear as being unattractive. Rustyzipper.com sells a lovely (to me, at least) snowman top called "1980s Unisex Ugly Christmas Sweater." And teeshirtpalace.com calls a nice red and white reindeer number "Ugly Christmas Sweater Crewneck."
I prefer the holiday spirit of the good folks at etsy.com's WinsumDesign, who sell a green sweatshirt with a light-up Christmas tree stitched onto it. They do describe it as an "ugly Christmas sweater" — but cheerfully emphasize that it's good for people who want to "look awesome and get a smile!"
As for me, I trudged up to the attic to bring down some favorites from my personal collection (see photo). I placed my all-time No. 1, featuring the 12 days of Christmas, on the top. If you squint, you can make out the two turtle doves and the partridge in a pear tree.
For more stories about Christmas, read: