I didn’t know.
I thought it was something everyone had to do, that is was part of my job description.
If you looked around, you’d see every staff member was doing it.
How was I to know?
Not one to rock the boat or question authority, I joined in.
It’s hard to admit this. It’s not like I really want people to know, but confession is good for the soul, so finally, after fifteen years, I will tell the world the truth.
I used to own a Christmas sweater and not ironically.
It was December of my first year teaching. I walked into the staff room one morning with my Tim’s coffee in hand, to discover that all but two staff members (me and the only male teacher) were wearing thematic sweaters. But wait, it gets better. They were all the same. Not exactly identical, but a variation on a style. Blue jersey sweatshirt with a Christmas scene sewn on the front.
My blood ran a bit cold and I panicked. Did I miss a memo? Is this mandatory dress for the month of December? THEY DID NOT COVER THIS IN MY TEACHING PROGRAM.
A solution quickly availed itself. A kind parent said she’d like to make me a Christmas sweater, but something more “contemporary” as a gift. I jumped all over that opportunity. And then, within a week, I was part of the Holiday Embellished Sweater Brigade. It felt good to be part of something bigger.
Yes, it felt good to be part of this group, even if it required wearing shirts with parts that jingled and jangled. Just as I was relishing my new place in this like-minded crew, all was revealed.
No, I was not contractually obligated to wear a Christmas sweater (or vest, or necklace, or even earrings). The reason that nearly twenty people had matching sweatshirts for December was that another staff member used to make them and they all got in on it.
I kept my sweater for two more years, then I transferred.