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Christmas Sweaters: A PSA

(This is a repost originally posted under a different name which someone took offense to. It’s a long story.)

Yesterday, I posted the following tweet:

I’m going to write a post tomorrow that needs to be written. It may offend some people, but I’ve got to take a stand.

About most things, I am willing to speak out, but on this particular subject I felt the damage might be too great; the cost too high. But then I received the following reply from @peacegardenmama:

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1929-1968

Thank you, Roxane. Your tweet gave me the courage to finally end my silence; to speak out against what might be the greatest abomination of the Christmas season.

I’m talking about, of course…

The holiday sweater:

First introduced as a form of seasonal birth control in communist China, they soon made their way across the Pacific to Europe and the New World. But this still does not answer the question of why, in a country where its citizens have the freedom to wear anything they choose, people would voluntarily wear one of these things.

At first, the blight of the holiday sweater was only observed in the weakest of our society–those not in a position to make sound, educated decisions about their wardrobe choices. I speak, of course, of the very young:

and the elderly:

So what of the rest of society? I have a theory:

Having worked in the fashion industry for several years (and by “having worked in the fashion industry” I mean “I worked in the Junior Department of a local department store”), I know that home interior trends tend to follow clothing fashion trends. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof:

From the runways and red carpets of one fashion season:

To the trendy, overpriced furniture stores the following season:

I think it’s important to remember that this is a one way street. Clothing fashions can trend to home fashions, but when you try to flip this trend, the results are often disastrous:

As a Christian, I find it disheartening that Christ followers seem particularly vulnerable to the mysterious allure of the holiday sweater.

Attend any Women’s Ministry Christmas Tea, luncheon or cookie exchange, and I dare you to swing a wiffle bat without hitting an attendee NOT wearing a holiday sweater.

I think this particular phenomenon can be traced back to a misinterpretation of scripture. The Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you and treating your body as a holy temple. Perhaps in later translations it states, “the Holy Spirit shall come to dwell on your person. Maybe you should provide a comfy chair and a big picture window with a cat sitting in it.”

(Of course, this is pure conjecture on my part as I don’t own a copy of the New Living Translation Bible.)

I know I have focused on women’s holiday sweaters in this post, but in conclusion I want to urge men, women and children alike to think long and hard before the Christmas card photo this year. One hundred years from now, is this how you want to be remembered by future generations?

No, I didn’t think so…

The sum of its parts

I have a friend who has a beautiful themed tree each year. Each year a new theme. And it’s not one of those tabletop numbers either.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer themed tree. (And no, the irony of the deer heads next to the Rudolph tree is not lost on me.)

It’s a massive tree accommodated by a two story family room. Last year’s theme was Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer, complete with the entire cast of characters.

The year before that I think it was Raggedy Ann and Andy. The pictures don’t do the tree justice. The symmetry and attention to detail is amazing. It’s enough to put most other themed trees to shame and to make me feel like a true decorating slacker. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’ve done themed trees before. I had a snowman tree for a few years, and our current tree started out with a theme: Rustic/Woodsy. But over the years it’s gone from rustic to rustic, et. al. It still has its rustic elements. The star on top? I would consider that rustic.

Ditto for some of the other ornaments.

But a strictly themed tree (and I typically only put up one tree, because I’m lazy like that) doesn’t allow for all the ornaments that reflect our interests.

Or our preferred footwear.

Ornaments from family members close to our hearts but not close in proximity.

We have several ornaments from my brother & his family in Hawaii, this is just the tackiest one.

Ornaments from close friends tried and true.

Ornaments made with once tiny hands which aren’t so tiny anymore.

Then there are those ornaments which mark milestones in the life of our family.

All of which make a hodgepodge of memories we get to unpack physically and metaphorically each Christmas season. A tree with no real distinct direction, but one which makes me smile.

Oh, wait…

There are two more ornaments I’ve yet to show you. Every Christmas tree should have some ornaments which represent the true reason for the season.

And personally, I think every tree should have at least one panda bear

Because panda bears make me smile…

(Thanks to my friends Jeff and Tamara for the Panda video.)

Do you have a treasured ornament that only you would treasure?

On patience and painting, Part 2

Last week I wrote about my daughter and I practicing patience while repainting her bedroom. One of the things I mentioned was that the furniture scheduled for mid-July would arrive on Monday, which it did:

Fortunately, we were able to get the painting finished as well as some much needed purging and reorganizing before the furniture was delivered. We’ve spent the remainder of the week putting things away and putting the finishing touches on the decorating. On Tuesday, while my son was at his weekly horn lesson, my daughter and I went on a quick but fruitful shopping excursion. I haven’t been to Pier One is ages, but I knew they had paper lanterns and was hoping they would have them in colors that matched the new room decor. We found those as well as three canvases, one of which coordinates with the room so well that I chocked it up to decorating serendipity:

As a matter of fact, the room was completely finished save for one thing. That big green rectangle on the wall in the first picture? This is what that rectangle used to look like:

If it were up to her, she probably wouldn’t mind painting over that rectangle and be done with it. But I really liked her name over her bed. I just needed to make some that would match her new room. I figured I would do what I did the first time: find some scrapbook paper that coordinated with the bedding. But after going to three craft stores, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I opted for my second choice: hand painting the letters.

Which is a whole other lesson in painting and patience. The letters come painted white. But I never leave anything white if I can help it. So the first step in the project was sanding followed by a very unattractive base coat:

Followed by more sanding and a slightly less unattractive second coat:

And (you guessed it) more sanding then a third coat:

I suppose I could have left the letters purple and called it a day, but I can’t very well call myself an artist and have boring purple letters hanging in my house, now can I?

Then of course you have to put a sealer on them…

Don't worry. It dries clear.

Because I couldn’t stand to have a room almost finished. Especially when the one thing left unfinished was the first thing you saw when you walked into the room:

So, that’s why I’ve been a bit scarce the past few days around the interwebs. I’ve been practicing painting and patience. And hey, just to throw in another “P” word, I’ll say perseverance, too.

And now I can truly say the project is finished:

Except for 2 pictures I still need to hang, but I’ll get to those tomorrow…