December 25, 2015, was the first Christmas my mom and her boyfriend were dating, so naturally, two-families worth of uncomfortable adults spent the day making small chat about what vehemently felt like our sole common denominator: the splendid job my mom did on the ham (pineapple-glazed, if you must know).
Eager to cut the awkwardness by at least 50 percent, in 2016 it was decided that we’d spend the holiday painting the unfinished basement floor—which led to a poorly painted floor and eight adults with back pain. Determined (read: stubborn), in 2017, the couple doubled-down and planned an outing to the bowling alley. But my mom never does anything halfway, so she surprised our Brady Bunch with matching tacky Christmas sweaters.
She walked in the alley with eight matching holiday sweaters draped over her arm. Like she’d been gifted the collection by Mrs. Claus herself. So as the alley speakers belted Michael Bublé’s holiday album, we adults, between the ages of 24 and 60, ponied (err, reindeer-ed?) up in our sweaters. Ahh, blended families partaking in #festivities.
To be clear, these aren’t put-the-cash-in cashmere tunics or chunky cable knits. These are hooded, 100-percent polyester, practically neon red pullovers. And the design on these holi-yay articles of clothing? A sheep literally wrapped in Christmas lights with the trying-too-hard-to-be-punny phrase, “Fleece Navidad.” (Fashion is in the details, all.)
Alas, we bowled. We took a family photo donning our matching sweats and posted evidence of our togetherness on the internet, and nobody threw out their backs: #athletes. This could have closed the chapter of said tacky sweaters. But apparently there’s something about rocking an ugly Christmas top alongside my blended fam in public that got my sentimental juices flowing…because (and this is not an overstatement) I have worn that damn sweater to bed every single night since. You do you, amirite?
Hey, there may be more luxe jammies on the market, but I’ve had almost 365 sleeps in this fuzzy baby and guess what? No holes. No obvious wear-and-tear. The vivid (nay, spirited) red is still just as red, and the sheep is still its kitschy self. I refuse to believe that lace or silk holds up as well.
Plus, psychotherapist Aimee Barr, LCSW, assures me that this is sweet and sentimental (and not concerning). “It’s normal for clothing to become meaningful or comforting to us when it reminds us of a certain time, how we were feeling, the people we were surrounded by. Over time, clothing can become a comfortable part of our routines.” Who woulda thunk a $12 ugly Christmas sweater would have such power?
If you want to get fashionably festive, try a pair of these holiday-ready earrings. And meet the winter coat one editor has worn for nearly 10 years.
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