My second son loves to do whatever makes him happy, especially if what makes him happy drives other people crazy. Obnoxious singing, silly walks, jazz-hand choreography – he pays no heed to the reactions of his peers, the requests of his parents or the rage he induces in his older brother. He is the opposite of your typical self-conscious, sullen, conformist teenager.
In 5th grade he made up a song about his lunch and sang it in a warbly Julia Child voice every day when the class stood in the line to the cafeteria: “What do I have in my lunch today, lunch today, lunch today? What do I have in my lunch today? Carrots! Incredibly orange!” When he told us about it, we asked him how many times he got beaten up. He said, “The kids in my class like it. They request it every day.” As he was leaving for school one day in sixth grade he asked if he could shovel the sidewalk. I said sure. I found out later that he had shoveled the sidewalk all the way to school, left the shovel in the office for the day, then shoveled his way back home again. He is delightfully strange, often annoying, and completely free of the crippling self-consciousness I suffered from at his age.
One of his favorite ways to express himself is by wearing ugly sweaters to school year round. He loves shopping at thrift stores and finding horrible old lady sweaters. Sometimes I’m tempted to accidentally “lose” the sweaters when I do laundry but they make him happy and it saves me a lot of money on his wardrobe. So he goes to school looking like a freak. Last month one of his teachers said to him, “For a long time I couldn’t figure out if you were a hipster or just really poor.”
December is a crazy month for everyone, especially musicians and parents of musicians. I’ve been feeling the stress, but not wanting to stray from my completely made-up self-imposed schedule of weekly blog posts, I struggled to find a way to complete a new challenge this week without using up any extra time. Then I thought, “Hey, I get dressed every day anyway. Why not have another fashion week – this time with festive holiday sweaters?” And so I did. Here is my report.
On Wednesday I accompanied the junior high choir at their Christmas concert and pulled out what I consider to be my wildest, craziest holiday sweater (because it has sequins). My family told me it’s not at all wild or Christmasy, but since it was for a concert, I decided to play it safe.
On Thursday I made sugar cookies, addressed Christmas cards and practiced with some groups singing in our church’s Christmas program. And I wore this lovely find from a previous blog challenge. This shirt is as wide as it is long – a perfect square.
On Friday I borrowed my oldest son’s holiday sweatshirt. We actually had an argument over who got to wear it that day. He thinks that me wearing his shirt is weirder than him wearing it in the first place. Look, those birds are having a snowball fight! So whimsical. I wore it Christmas shopping and on our date to a restaurant and a movie. When I wore it in public I realized that when a 16-year-old boy wears it, it’s obvious he’s wearing it ironically. When a 40-year-old woman wears it, people aren’t sure if I realize it’s ugly or if I really like it (not that those are mutually exclusive).
On Saturday I told my husband I would be wearing my festive holiday turtleneck to our church Christmas party and asked if he’d like to join me. He was happy to, but only after he took out some of the rouching in the neck which, according to him, made it look less manly. Good thing he went to all that work. It looks much better now.
During my shopping trip on Friday, I found a sweater I would actually wear for real, not just for holidays, so I bought it and wore it to church and to perform in a Christmas concert on Sunday. My husband was thrilled that I bought something to wear that’s not black or grey.
On Monday I tried to wear my son’s favorite sweater but it was wadded up at the bottom of his hamper so I had to wait until Tuesday to wear it, shoulder pads and all. I don’t know, who do you think wears it better?
For the last few years I’ve felt burdened by my responsibility as a mother/event planner to create the Christmas ambience and events and memories when all I really want to do is take a nap. I haven’t been able to feel Christmasy for a long time. But this week something magical happened. When I looked festive, I felt festive. I went about my day thinking, “Heck yeah, Christmas. I got your Christmas right here. Christmas in your face!” I started listening to Christmas music at home and in my car (I even caught myself listening to Kenny G once). I made all the recipes that remind me of past holidays (Li’l Smokies and a cheeseball and crackers for dinner anyone?). And I had Christmas Spirit for crying out loud. I also got a little peek into why my weirdo son dresses the way he does. I think he likes to keep people guessing and I think he enjoys their reactions, especially if they are negative.
And the best part about this week is that I tried something new and still had time for everything on my Christmas to-do list. Actually, I take that back. The best part was that I got away with using a blog post as an excuse to buy myself a new sweater. Maybe next week’s post should be about chocolate.