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The Christmas sweater

When I was still a little Michelle, living with my mom, dad, little sister and brother in a small town some 20 miles from the heart of Vancouver, my favorite time of year was Christmas. The dark, relatively cold days of December in the somewhat rugged surroundings of my family home were magical, to say the least. Baking gingerbread cookies, singing Christmas carols while decorating the fir pine Christmas tree, and having a wonderfully rich dinner are some of the best childhood memories I have.

Vancouver winter iceskating
Ice skating in Vancouver

Also, every year me and my sister tried to stay awake so we could hear Santa leaving presents in our stockings. Somehow, our excitement always faltered and sleep would creep up on us while we were waiting in my warm, cozy bed, only to wake up the next morning with the disappointment of having missed Santa yet another year.

Lately even the lesser memories of Christmas time have started to grow on me. One in particular I can think of fondly nowadays is the ugly, prickly Christmas sweater my grandmother used to knit for me and my siblings. It was always a worrying shade of rusty brown-greenish, too wide at the waste and too narrow at the arm pits. Sometimes a cross-eyed Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer embellished the front, other years very ‘unique’ snowflakes fluttered across my chest. One thing the sweaters had in common was that they were absolutely hideous (sorry gran).

Christmas sweater Royal Family
The Royal Family at Madame Tussaud’s wearing Christmas sweaters

The worst side of the sweater is that it was a particularly hot woollen garment and with the fireplace blazing, I had a permanent row of sweat beads decorating my forehead during my family’s annual Christmas dinner. When dinner was over the children ran upstairs to change into our pajamas, throw the sweaters in the back of the closets (or hiding it between the dirty sheets in the laundry basket) and forget about them until next Christmas. Then we’d go down stairs and a cup of hot chocolate with a molten marshmallow would be waiting for us.

Vancouver Lights Festival

Unfortunately, my gran has passed away years ago and only now that I’m much older I can clearly see the sweater she knitted for what it really was: a sign of loving attention. Funny enough, I once tried my hand at knitting a Christmas sweater myself, but I never even made it to the arm pits. The stitches kept falling off the needles and the whole situation was just a frustrating mess. Who knew knitting would be so darn difficult!

Christmas sweater
My first Christmas sweater

Luckily for me, (ugly) Christmas sweaters are completely in trend again the last couple of years, and after Thanksgiving they flood the Christmas section of pretty much any retail store and webshop. I have to admit I love seeing my children in cute and sassy Christmas sweaters and I always think of my gran for a bit on Christmas Eve.