My Family has never had a lot of holiday traditions. It’s hard to have traditions with Hanukkah, as it changes dates every year, often coming while we were still in school. I celebrate Christmas with my Mom’s side of the family, but that side is small, and we usually schedule our festivities around the celebrations of everyone’s “other side of the family.” Having no other side to celebrate with myself, my Christmases usually consists of take out food, a movie, and a board game with my family. The one tradition we really have, however, started almost by accident. That tradition is my Holiday sweater.
No one is really sure when it became my “holiday sweater,” but the working theory is that, incidentally, I wore the same sweater to my families Christmas celebration and/or Thanksgiving celebration multiple times in rapid succession. Most sources claim this started when I was around 6th grade (2000), though my Mother claims that she didn’t purchase that sweater until 2002. Whenever it started, for about the last 10-12 years, I have worn the same sweater to every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, and at no other point throughout the year.
To be honest, I have no idea why this tradition started, and even less of an idea why I continued to do it. The sweater is of Norwegian design (no one I’m related to has an ounce of Norwegian ancestry), Blue with red and white designs on the shoulder/sleeves, and a red trim on the wrists and waist. Some of the designs loosely resemble snowflakes, which I think is where I originally got the idea to wear it for the holidays. There is an image on the sleeve no one can make out, which looks like a man dragging a gigantic turkey. To be honest, if I were to wear something else this year, I’m quite sure that most of my family wouldn’t even notice. So how is this my favorite tradition?
Year in and year out, no matter what happens, I know that my sweater will be waiting for me come Thanksgiving. No matter what might change in my life, that never does. I’ve grown about 5 inches since I started wearing it, so it’s a little short in the sleeves and waist. I’ve filled out quite a bit since then, so it’s a little tight (some years tighter than others). Every year, when I put it on, I remember the last time I wore it, I think back to what has changed in my life and what always stays the same. I try to be thankful for what I have, be optimistic about the future. My family has changed since I started wearing it. My Grandfather passed away in 2006, and my Aunt in 2010. My sister moved to Philadelphia, and then back to Milwaukee. This year will be two firsts for the sweater: it is the first time wearing it since I moved out of Wisconsin, and for the first time, we will have a new family member at dinner this year as my cousin gave birth to a healthy girl on November 11th. When I finally get to meet her on Christmas, I’ll be wearing the sweater. Its getting worn out, and there is only so long I can keep wearing it. The white threads have yellowed, and there is a hole in the side. But for at least one more year, I’m going to put it on, remember the last year, and think ahead to where I’ll be on Thanksgiving, 2013. Wherever I am, I hope the sweater is with me.