At 18, I had one of those requisite miserable retail job experiences. I was hired to work at FAO Schwarz, a high end toy store, during the Christmas holiday season. Saturdays were especially painful since it entailed working from 9am-6pm, after a night of clubbing in NYC.
Reporting for mindless duty on a couple hours of slumber was tortuous. One particular Saturday, I had my fill and decided to rebel. After only a few hours catering to coked-up X-Ray mommies, advising them which toys would benefit their wunderkind offspring, I dragged my hungover self to the huge storefront display window. Through my blurred vision, I somehow made out the most comfortable, plush three foot mountain of stuffed animals. I nearly keeled over thinking how comfortable it would be to nestle on the plush stuffed kitties, puppies and circus menagerie. I proceeded to burrow into a euphoric plush kingdom like a marsupial mole. I was completely camouflaged, except for some strands of blond hair. I was asleep for God-knows how long before the manager bellowed into my ear.
Manager: “Magda! Wake up! You may NOT fall asleep in the display window. Get up now!
Me: Huh? Mmmm, uh, ok. I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it. You did such a good job decorating this area, I had to lie down and test it. It was so comfy, it lulled me to sleep. It won’t happen again.
Manager: Really pissed, storms away.
Friend: (She walks up snickering and barely able to hold back tears from laughter.) Oh my God, Dude, I can’t believe you fell asleep in the storefront window while people walked right past you. You are INSANE! Only you.
Me: What the hell do you expect? We danced and partied all night. I’m exhausted. If you fell onto a bed of plush circus animals, sleep would have been your only option. Ok, so let’s get through this shitty day, then I will go home and nap. What time are you picking me up tonight? Seriously, I need to figure out what I am going to wear.
Ahhhhh, youth. No accountability. No regrets and on an endless path in pursuit of the next round of explosive endorphins.
That episode was one of many memorable holiday experiences I have had. Most memorable are the times I spend with friends and family watching the Rankin/Bass stop-motion Christmas TV productions such as, “Jack Frost”, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year.” On December 6th, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” celebrated its 50th anniversary on the tube as the longest running Christmas program. It is the one Christmas special I never miss. I had to celebrate and commemorate it by creating a montage along with a DIY Christmas project.
I had not posted a DIY in a while, so I called upon with my fashion designer friend, Jamie Kreitman, to collaborate and design a DIY “Ugly Christmas Sweater.”
Here is how she created “the most fashionable ugly Christmas sweater that struggles to be ugly.”
1) Take a sweatshirt and lay flat
2) Pin and sew a 2.5″-3″ lace trim around the neckline to create a collar.
3) Cut a triangle in green felt to create the Christmas tree. Edge it in red rickrack trim either by sewing or using a glue gun. Place at the center of sweatshirt, beginning at point 3″-4″” down from center neckline edge. Pin in place, then stitch down.
4) Measure the bottom of the tree. Take that measurement and multiply 1.5x. Cut a 3″ wide piece of cotton gingham measuring the 1.5x tree bottom measurement for the length. Hand pleat or shirr the fabric strip to fit the width of the tree bottom. Pin and steam the strip. Then stitch down the shirring or pleating 1/2″ from the top.
5) Apply green rickrack 1/2″ from top either by sewing or with a glue gun.
6) Overcast hem of this strip with red thread by using zigzag stitch on sewing machine or blanket stitch by hand.
7) Attach gingham strip to sweatshirt on the bottom of tree creating a tree skirt.
8) Gather a bunch of rhinestone brooches and buttons and place onto tree as ornaments. Stitch and/or glue to tree and sweatshirt.
9) Find other playful items to attach framing the tree. We discovered a stash of Peruvian made stuffed ballerina dolls from the ’80s to complete the look. You could use miniature toys, gifts, animals.
10) Make a big-#ss bow and attach to center front neckline to grace the collar.
I deliberated as to whether to make my RUDOLPH ROAST montage this year’s Christmas card. In the meantime, if you celebrate Christmas, get creative and create something unconventional or provocative. Why not add some humor to the holiday season!
If you don’t celebrate Christmas, then I hope you get sloshed with your colleagues, enjoy the decorations and other inane seasonal activities which have nothing to do with the spirit of Christmas. Have fun because the doldrums of January are right around the corner!
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