Every year at about this time, I become dimly aware that some holidays are approaching. And like death or taxes, they are coming whether I’m ready or not. The Holiday Express is rumbling toward me while I sit tied to the tracks, looking the other way and saying, “Huh. Does anybody else hear something?”
I think I have very good reasons for bungling holiday-related timelines. My chorus starts singing Christmas music in early September, for crying out loud. Of course I’m confused. The first Christmas decorations arrive in stores before Halloween. Remember, back in October, when we were all poking merry fun at that? Remember taking all those photos of store displays, then posting them on Facebook with pithy little “Oh, ha ha ha, it’s far too early” captions?
By mid November, the distant, rumbling thunder of the coming storm is slightly less distant. But we can still dismiss it, because most of the energy is focused on Black Friday, which we all know is insane. Crazed, desperate retailers are trying to find new ways to separate us from our money, as they always do, only becoming craftier during tough economic times. But when I haven’t eaten my Thanksgiving turkey yet, it’s still very easy to keep laughing: “Oh, ha ha! Silly consumers and retailers! It’s still too early!”
Until, suddenly, it isn’t.
Christmas lights appear overnight, everywhere. But I’m still too busy slogging through the last 2-3 weeks of my semester. Foolishly, I continue giving assignments to my students. Incomprehensibly, they still expect me to give meaningful feedback on these assignments. We continue doing our best, even though we all know that we’re on the downslope of a rapidly receding term, even though our fates are more or less sealed, even though — let’s be honest — part of us is ready to say “enough,” waiting until next term to start over, fresh.
But we don’t do that. We don’t quit; we keep going. We do this because we are dedicated, and that’s what dedicated people do.
So despite the Christmas lights and music that start creeping into my consciousness, the holidays are mostly something that I deal with after my grades are in. And my grades are usually due sometime between December 18-21.
You do the math.
Of course, part of the reason I get away with this is because Mr. Frump and I don’t have children. We don’t decorate our house. We celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah, but we do so in a very free-form, individual way. If we’re here alone, we cook a nice dinner and open a few presents. If we travel to visit family for Christmas, we are the guests, not the hosts.
But we do provide companionship and sparkling conversation, I think, and we certainly try to help with the cooking and cleanup. We bring some gifts, and maybe some wine. (No, I don’t drink all of it myself! Why would you even think that?)
We’ve never thrown a Christmas party, a Hanukkah party, a Kwanzaa party, or a holiday party of any kind. And a number of our friends are very much like us, so we all enjoy meeting at restaurants to socialize. It works well for everybody concerned.
Yet, still, we have a few friends who are kind enough to invite us to their holiday gatherings. Suddenly, I find myself with nothing holiday-appropriate to wear. And I do mean nothing.
This year, we are traveling to see my parents, so there will be a warm, intimate family gathering. Fortunately, I am quite literally the only person who cares what I wear to this. Unfortunately, I do care, a little bit. I mean, I should at least make some effort. Shouldn’t I?
So this year, I’m considering wearing my new leopard print top from the Talbot’s outlet:
along with my ubiquitous brown ruffle skirt:
Are these items that I also wear to work? Of course they are! Which is fine, except that I can’t forget what style writer Kimberly Bonnell wrote in her book, What to Wear: “Nothing is quite as depressing as generic workday clothes trying to pass as weekend party wear.” I’ve quoted her before, and there’s a reason for this. Her quote haunts me every time I do exactly what she advises against.
So I’m gonna have to perk these babies up a bit. Here’s what I think I need:
- A festive pair of shoes (sparkly, maybe?). But I want them to be flats, even though I know somebody’s gonna tell me that I can’t — simply can’t — wear flats with that skirt. But I have to pack them in a suitcase and go on a plane! And then in a car! If they’re sparkly enough, I can do it, right? Right? If not sparkles, then what?
- Some good jewelry. I’m just not sure what “good” means. What goes with leopard print? Does anybody know?
- A festive, dressy little bag. See notes 1 and 2, above, re: what kind?
So here comes the sinister purpose of this post. I’m open to any and all of your ideas and advice regarding items 1-3. You, my readers, are better at this than I am. What would Frump Nation do? (WWFND?)
I’m listening. And while I could apologize for asking for guidance rather than giving it, we all know that I have absolutely no shame in this regard. All I can promise in return is my heartfelt gratitude. And maybe I’ll try to entertain you once in a while by inviting you to laugh at me as well as with me. If you bring the Christmas roast, I promise to bring the wine and a silly story or two. Does that sound like a deal?