The holiday party at my work is on Wednesday and they are having an ugly sweater contest. When I first read the memo, I thought, “meh.” Then the more the idea settled, the more fun it seemed. I searched through thrift store racks for something so ridiculous no one could argue the ugliness. Then, I began to think of ways I could make it look even worse.
Last night, I finally got around to sewing strings of bells onto my sweater. I finished one sleeve and examined it, convinced it might just be hideous enough to win.
And then my older son walked into the room (he’s thirteen.)
“Why are you sewing bells onto your sweater?” he asked.
“Because I’m making my ugly sweater even uglier.”
“But it’s not ugly, it looks kind of pretty.”
Pretty?! I stopped to look at his expression, certain he was messing with me, like when he convinced me a bee had landed in my hair. (There was no bee, but I hope he enjoyed the show, because I have not forgotten… and I will get him back!)
“It looks fancy,” he said.
Well, fancy wasn’t what I was going for. I decided that ugly was in the eye of the beholder. And then my thoughts led me down the loopy path that became this post…
The gifts under my 4-ft Walmart tree are not adorned with bows or ribbon. I have never lived with a cat who could not resist chewing and ingesting the ribbon. It’s like ribbon is woven with tuna and catnip and is too irresistible to the feline palate. Never mind the intestinal issues that follow… not even that will deter them. This is why I have a strict no ribbon policy and no matter how much the kids beg for the “pretty stuff”, it won’t happen.
Some might see our gifts as not aesthetically pleasing; even ugly. I’m so used to “plain” presents that I see the assorted wrapping papers and think, “pretty!”
Again, ugly is in the eye of the beholder.
Here’s where my thoughts looped again, and I associated this statement with people. I’ve met people who, on the surface, seem ordinary or dull, but once I got to know them, they were quite interesting- whether it be fascinating travels, quirky sense of humor or unique hobbies. What a pleasing surprise that is!
On the other hand, it’s a crushing disappointment to be enamored by the fluff and frills, only to discover that once all that’s gone, there’s nothing of substance. When that happens, it’s hard to remember what I found so beautiful in the first place, because all I could see was the ugliness beneath it all. It’s like even the memories were a fraud; they became fuzzy and disconnected from the reality I learned.
Ugly really is in the eye of the beholder.
Age has taught me a few things. Like, gravity happens, but it matters less and less. And, maybe my parents understood more than I gave them credit for. And, the best friends are those who don’t need to be everybody’s friend.
And finally, real beauty isn’t observed in a glance.
Have a beautiful Tuesday (even if you happen to be donning an ugly sweater!)