Christmas time is here, and along with greeting cards, holiday parties, tree decorating, and lots and lots of great food, we all deal with gift giving. Society has long over-commercialized Christmas gifts and shopping, and we can easily lose the spirit of giving that embodies Christmas. However, I like to search through the torn Christmas wrappings and discarded bows and ribbons to find that nugget of Christmas spirit we all seek. This year I tell our family’s story of The Gift.
The story begins a few weeks before Christmas as invitations fly out to Christmas-themed parties. Both my twenty-something kids are attending the same gathering: An Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. Yes, wear that hideous sweater with garish yuletide motifs—a reindeer or a jolly ol’ Saint Nick. Extra bells or ribbons for adornments are a plus.
Now, my daughter has a particular problem or two. One, she finds it difficult to pick out clothing that is inherently ugly. Two, she ran out of time to scavenge the local thrift shops and second hand clothing stores. When her boyfriend’s mother volunteered to send her an ugly sweater, dear daughter said yes. A few days later, she received not one, but two ugly sweater candidates.
Well, apparently boyfriend’s mother has the same problem as daughter. The two sweaters she sent were perhaps a bit out of style. But they were not ugly. In fact, one was a soft red sweater with a fake fur collar. Would I wear this? No. But, at one point I am sure this sweater represented the height of wintertime elegance. The second sweater was a plain wool sweater-jacket with gold buttons. The shoulder pads screamed “no longer fashionable” and the straight cut was something, well, something my mother-in-law might like. In fact, daughter and I looked at each other and said, “Yes, Grandma would really like this. It’s perfect for Christmas.”
This red sweater-jacket was, in fact, in perfect condition. We took it to the dry cleaners for good measure and carefully wrapped it with paper and ribbon. On Christmas Day, Grandma opened her gift, fell in love with it, and immediately put it on. It fit perfectly. And it was a perfect Christmas sweater and a perfect Christmas gift.