December 20, 2007

holiday sweaters are for cat people




Every December, the Times has a seasonal article on that dreadful American Christmas tradition, the holiday sweater:

[E]nough time has gone by that Kathy McConnell, the senior vice president of product development at Coldwater Creek, the women’s fashion chain of unpretentious, professional-looking clothes, felt it was safe this year to invite the cat back.

In fact, she invited several of them, as the central characters who pounce and lounge and play with string on several of the company’s annual holiday sweater designs. The most popular so far has been its “kitty cardigan” ($89.50), which depicts — in ramie, acrylic, nylon, angora, wool, rayon and sparkly Lurex threads — a tower of cats, one of which has a red string tied around its tail, as if to remind us of something.

It may be this: Sometimes, in our hoity-toity haste to malign a tradition that is seen as perfectly normal in just about every part of the country west of the Hudson River, we forget the true meaning of Christmas — and, while we’re at it, the true meaning of Christmas sweaters. We may not remember that there are real, sophisticated people coming up with ideas for these things at companies like Coldwater Creek, Talbots, Marisa Christina, Quacker Factory and Berek every year, not some committee of demented elves pulling subjects at random from Santa’s bag of tricks — i.e., ice-skating penguins, fiber-optic candy canes, halls-decking bunnies and so on. [...]

Cats, as a rule, do well as a subject of holiday sweaters, especially when playing with a ball of string. Cats are nondenominational. Most people, with the exception of dog people, think cats are cute. And fewer are allergic to cat sweaters than to cats.
I am a dog person. Still, I'll grant cat people that kittens can be cute (as long as they don't jump on tables, chairs, countertops, or my lap). But holiday sweaters? Never!

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