Christmas sweaters and sweats with endless snowmen, wreaths, Santas, Christmas trees, presents, reindeer and more; some consider them festive, others ugly.
Whichever word fits, the "ugly Christmas sweater" trend continues, welcomed by ugly sweater revelers of all ages.
No longer worn by only women, bright holiday sweaters are being sought out at stores, mothers' closets, Goodwill. Some of the most prized are vintage, and the busier the better.
Nationally, ugly Christmas sweaters have been worn by recording artists Cee Lo Green, Snoop Dogg, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and John Mayer.
Closer to home, the festive sweaters are everywhere.
On Wednesday Edward Little High student Jake Bazinet, 15, will leave his manhood behind and wear his ugly Christmas sweater -- a bright green one with colorful dots, stripes, snowflakes and snowmen -- to school for a contest.
In Lewiston, Kevin Morissette, 32, and friends wore their ugly Christmas sweaters at a party Saturday night. Morissette made his own, sort of.
"There definitely are some ugly sweaters out there, but I couldn't find one on the shelf," he said. He bought one and embellished it with holiday decorations from a dollar store. "It's a great place to accessorize," he said.
Wearing ugly Christmas sweaters is a way to continue the fun and creativity of dressing up at Halloween, Morissette said.
In Rumford, Red Hat Mommas of Western Maine members, women in their 70s and 80s with good senses of humor, held their ugly Christmas sweater party on Wednesday.
"I'm bling; this is her redneck sweater," said Dee Holman, 78, of Roxbury, standing next to Clarice Hodges. Hodges showed off her sweater, which she had decorated with ornaments and bows stuck on with electrical tape. "It took me a half an hour," she bragged.
Hodges moved, and a ceramic ornament fell from her sweater, crashed and broke into pieces, prompting Hodges to smile and look for a broom.
Holman meticulously put together her bling ensemble. Her sweater had a black background covered with beads of all colors, ribbons, embroidered Christmas trees, presents, a wreath, a teddy bear, a fireplace and more.
She wore a red Santa hat, a purple turtleneck, and red-and-purple Christmas socks. (Red and purple are the uniform of the Red Hat Mommas of Western Maine, according to Co-Queen Rita Cunningham.)
What does Holman think of the term "ugly Christmas sweater?" It's fun, she said. "I was watching Ellen DeGeneres. They had some way-out ones."
Peggy Welch, 81, wore a sweater with "Ho Ho Ho" in large print and a big Santa. "My son bought this for me years ago. It's been in the closet," she said. Welch took it out for Wednesday's party. "For this, it's perfect."
Mary Pulsifer of Peru pointed out that not everyone thinks holiday sweaters are ugly. "Ugly is in the eye of the beholder," Pulsifer said. "What's ugly to you may be beautiful to me."
Her sweater featured snowmen, stars, beads, candy canes "and a little bit of lunch," she joked. Pulsifer said she loves the trend. "It's wonderful. Because one month once a year, everybody gets bright and colorful and enjoys what other people are wearing."
Some parents and grandparents are being asked by children and grandchildren if they can borrow their sweater for a party.
Yes, Linda Barschdorf of Lisbon Falls told her daughter and friend. But when she found out they wanted her prized George Strait Christmas sweatshirts for an ugly sweater party, "I was mortified," she said.
Barschdorf said she and her boyfriend have a collection of 20 or more George Strait Christmas sweatshirts. "He comes out with a new one every year. We have all of them. My sweatshirts are not ugly."
She finds the trend amusing. "It adds to the Christmas spirit."
One popular place to find a festive sweater is Goodwill. Goodwill Communications Manager Michelle Smith said her stores have noticed the demand. At some stores the sweaters and sweats are pulled out and displayed on a rack, making it easier for ugly Christmas sweater shoppers.
Smith said she's careful not to offend. "We call them 'holiday sweaters.'"
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OCTOBER 30, 2014
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