Do you remember when Ugly Christmas Sweater parties first hit the scene? And we were all cracking up? And you had to call your mom and ask for your grandmother’s old holiday sweaters to wear? And everyone was so freaking proud of themselves for being ironic? Well, that’s over. Ugly Christmas sweaters are on sale at Target, as ugly Christmas sweaters. There’s no fun take on the name, no creative but also kind of boring designer collaboration (I accidently typed collarboration, and I was so tickled with the pun that I clapped my hands loudly and almost kept it in, but then I remembered that I’m the only person who thinks I’m that funny), and they aren’t even mixed into the hipster holiday t-shirts – it’s just one of the biggest corporations in the world spoon feeding irony to the masses. And while I’m no beard-loving, matcha-drinking, Lyft-not-Uber millennial, I feel like that’s a pretty clear sign that UCS parties have jumped the cool, hip, happening shark and are now riding in the wake of the elementary school staff party dolphins.
Which brings me to my recent experience with an older female family member, whom I will NOT identify because I’m scared of her tattling to my mom, who just couldn’t wait to tell me about her friend’s upcoming Christmas party. She was so excited and scandalized that the host wanted them to look ugly on purpose that she giggled and quivered her way through telling me about it, clearly expecting me to be as delightedly shocked as she was (spoiler alert: I was an ass about it). Now I am not mocking this family member, as I am self-aware enough to know that spending the last decade around New York City has conditioned me to feel like I’m way cooler than everyone else and way, way cooler than I actually am. And I live in New Jersey. That’s how bad the NYC sense of self-importance is. New Jersey. However, the whole exchange made me remember a similar conversation with a different older female relative a few years ago, who gleefully explained to me that she was going to a girl’s night. A girl’s night. A GIRL’S NIGHT. She said it around six times within the span of the conversation, which made me think that maybe she’s excited and I should stop hate-liking my Facebook frenemy’s gym selfies and engage in conversation. So I asked her who was going to this girl’s night – and she almost exploded with poorly concealed delight: “Well! It’s me. And Frannie. And Amy. And Ellie. And… Johnny.” Insert breathless expectant pause, clearly expecting some sort of reaction from me. “Who’s Johnny?” I asked, like the g-d Nancy Drew I am. “Ohhhhhh! Johnny is Ellie’s gay bestie. So he’s coming along, like just one of the girls! Isn’t that wild?”
Now, this lady had literally never met a gay guy, so for her, the idea was new and titillating and vaguely scandalous, much like my other relative with her ugly Christmas sweater party. I forget how I responded to her, but I’m pretty sure it was supportive but also self-righteous, with hints of both enthusiasm and disdain. I was happy that she was broadening her social horizons, but I was also concerned that she wasn’t normalizing someone with a different sexual orientation but instead was treating this poor guy like a novelty. A fad. A temporary trend that will soon be exploited by big businesses until it eventually runs its course and not be a thing anymo- wait, you guys. The title and entire premise of this post are all wrong. Ugly Christmas sweaters are NOT the new gay besties, and they aren’t even similar at all, except in that my older female relatives think they’re both crazy in a good way. I’m embarrassed. Forget you read this post. But follow me on Twitter: @ladylikenonsens.