Feature photo by reneemudd

It can be difficult to dress for the holidays. I haven’t really had that much of a problem since, very recently, only the immediate members of my family (my parents and sister) decided to just do our own thing independent from the rest of the family. My parents might stop by someone else’s party later in the evening but for the most part, it’s just us.

However, for many other people, you’re staring at your watch, counting down the minutes until you can fuck off amongst the orchestral dissonance of your uncle strangling your father or your cousin’s awkward coming out between the sweet potatoes and dessert. Before your second serving of cranberry sauce or fifth glass of wine, you start to wonder how you could be in the adult swim of this genetic pool. Then, as if by some surprise clockwork that almost always has been the routine for hundreds of years, the top button of your pants has reached a projectile or the last remnants of elastic on your Spanx gives out, and will indeed bajulate the presence of your family- those drunken bastards who speak with their mouth full.

The thing to remember about the holidays is that it takes all kinds. You need not abide by everyone else’s traditions. The etymology of the word “tradition” is derived from the Latin “traditio” which means delivery, surrender or handed down. It should not mean by any stretch of the imagination (which is where these so-called traditions come from) you’re obligated to surrender. The root of traditions stem from beliefs and beliefs are mega-personal entities that focus on your specific life’s challenges and wins and not that of a larger groups’. The following are three traditions that reserve your style and make it easier for you to go out, get drunk and dread the vomit-inducing time known as “Christmas” to the laymen and “The Holiday Season” to the State.

Don’t Over-eat:
This seems like a given and perhaps even a rule for some other topic or article, but this will only help you out in all aspects of the nights to come. First of all, there isn’t anything worse than being gassy at a bar or worse yet, when making, ahem, connections. There is no reason to punish the interested party because you couldn’t get enough of your Aunt’s cabbage and bean dip. Also, there is a level of comfort that is at stake which is the ability to walk around without feeling heavy. Whatever you end up wearing (if you do change from your cranberry sauced-soaked turtleneck), you’ll wind up making yourself look terrible in it, no matter how flattering it could be, because you feel so full. Leave the seconds for the day after when you’ll really want it.

Don’t Wear Holiday Inspired Attire:
Do you remember the opening scene of Bridget Jones’s Diary? Bridget comes home and wears what looks like a early 80s morning television and Mark Darcy wearing a reindeer sweater. The both of them meet for the first time, presumably the victim’s of their mother’s affection for doggedness in matching them both up. Their famously terrible first impression is tantamount to why you can (and sometimes should) say no to your mother in matters of wardrobe. Their level of sophistication is completely different than yours and both of you think neither of you have it or get it. If you can’t bear to say no, buy something ridiculous for your mother to wear and I think she’ll reject her previous intervention.

Be Seasonally Appropriate:
When I say seasonal, I don’t mean it in the cultural sense. Chicago is notorious for extreme weather patterns that can change as fast as The Black Eyed Peas can sell out. There is a time and a place for t-shirts or short skirts and frankly, this isn’t one of them. Yes, we all want to look and feel attractive but at what cost? Besides, it’s going to look awfully strange if you do look sexy and you just came back from a family dinner. Also, there isn’t anything more off-putting than desperation, and in near freezing weather, you can bet you’ll be going home with your friends. . . or a pimp.

In the end, one need not follow these rules, one need not follow any rules. The simple joy of being around family and friends in a collective setting should be the only thing that binds you to the holidays and, in all actuality, there is no reason to go out. Getting fun with your reconciled uncle and father is a lot more fun than being witness to a new fight between people you don’t know or care about. I mean, how more plebicolar can you get?

Save me some of those buttered peas and until next week (I’m taking a conscious effort to forget the holidays) don’t be a stranger but, do be stranger.

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