Until glaucoma took away her ability to see the details, my mother knit a sweater for me every Christmas. I can remember most of them. My least favorite was a traditional Scandinavian pullover in red, white and blue she made for me when I was in 3rd grade, even then my color palette was subtler than that. My favorite was a longer tunic sweater she knit in a dark sienna with a Scandinavian knit border print from hip to mid thigh with sienna, pumpkin, cream and dark forest green. One of the most stunning was one she knit of variegated yarn that through serendipity happened to have the exact number of stitches so the yarn formed a gorgeous argyle plaid pattern on the front panel. She knit a gorgeous lacy shell one year that was so soft and made with such fine yarn I could squeeze it into a ball in one hand. The last one she made before her vision dimmed permanently was a soft dove gray, seashell pink and white Scandinavian cardigan with silver buttons. I loved my sweaters and their loss is one of the harder losses from our house fire.
That’s why I dislike the “Ugly Christmas Sweater” trope. How can a sweater made with love ever be ugly?
We didn’t give many gifts in my family. I would get one present from Santa, the sweater from my parents and two dollars from my uncle who lived with us. Amongst my siblings and nieces and nephews, we drew names so that on Christmas Day we each got one present. Most of those were homemade since the spending limit was $5 per present. I remember most of my presents from Santa, a bible, a quilt, a tea set, a rock collector’s kit, a microscope, an archeology kit and then as I grew older, a terry bathrobe, a coat, and other practical gifts. I remember the last Christmas present from my mother, dishtowels she sewed little button loops on so they can hang on the refrigerator handle and a pound of organic popcorn she bought direct from the farmer.
I was unaware of how “deprived” my Christmases were until I watched a new roommate inventory her “haul” the first winter we shared a house. Coming home from her family Christmas, she spent the morning unpacking three suitcases full of presents, almost all clothing from Eddie Bauer, Nordstroms and Meier & Frank. Sorting them into piles by store, she took a moment to ask what my parents had sent. I showed her the popcorn, homemade maple syrup that my dad had collected from the forest behind the house and my mother had cooked down, wild rice my niece’s husband had gathered and dried and a painted jewelry box my sister had decorated with rosemaling. She was nonplussed that someone would get so little. Then she packed up her take from her family and ran off to the three stores and traded everything in for store credit. Somehow, I think I valued my gifts far more than she valued hers.
It never occurred to me to trade in a gift. It never occurred to me to judge a gift by any metric other than the love that sent it to me. I would love nothing more than Christmas after Christmas receiving only a bundle of hand-crocheted dish cloths if it meant my mother were still here to give them to me. Now, it’s true that my sister sometimes sends me wacky gifts, but when I see them, I see love.I see that they are things she loves and would like herself. They would fit in her home perfectly and she wants to share that with me. And really, if you can’t incorporate an antique doll carriage shaped like a pig into your home, you simply lack imagination.
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|Acha||how purty you are <3|
|Skye||What a lovely post! And I agree that if it's made with love it isn't ugly. My great grandmother used to make the most exquisite chocheted lace doilies and I treasure the ones I have.|
|Obsolete||That was a really lovely, touching post.|
|✩Queen B✩||haha I just made "Ugly Christmas Sweaters" (yes named that exactly) this week|