Every year my friends throw an ugly holiday sweater party night where everyone shows up dressed in the most vile holiday-themed concoction they can come up with. Each year there's a prize for most hideous sweater and last year I was determined to take home the gold. After weeks of searching through thrift store bins, novelty stores, and the closets of every elderly female relative I have, I finally hit the jackpot with my Aunt Edna's vintage stash. The sweater, if you could call it that, was a mess of bows, sequins, and fringe that was literally a dizzying, holiday-themed assault on the eyes. It was perfect. As I prepared to leave with my bounty, Aunt Edna mentioned that she was having her own holiday party with her neighbor, Carol, and I immediately perked up. I had been crushing on Carol's grandson since were practically in diapers and any mention of him made me lose all train of thought. I pictured his big brown eyes and wavy hair as my Aunt babbled on about her party. I snapped out of it to see her staring at me and quickly said, "Sure, no problem Aunt Edna. I'll be there. Thanks for the sweater!" And ran out the door.
The next weekend I was crimped and ribboned and ready for my big debut. The sweater weighed twice as much as any garment should, and I had to struggle with my coat to fit all the baubles inside. As soon as I go to the party everyone freaked out about my sweater. People laughed, and slapped me high five, and stared down at their own measly versions. I settled in, beaming, and waited for the announcement of the prize. I was having such a good time time passed quickly. When I finally looked at my phone to check the time, I saw that I had ten missed calls from my Aunt Edna. I suddenly felt horrible, afraid that the worst had happened and I had been unable to be reached. I ran outside and called her back immediately. She picked up on the first ring. "Aunt Edna! Are you alright?" I could tell immediately that not only was she alright, there were sounds of party noises in the background. Her party was the same night! "I'm fine. Are you coming now? We've missed you. Carol's grandson asked where you were." I froze. In my daydream state I must have promised my aunt I would have been at the party ages ago. I had to leave and I was too far from home to go change. This. Was. Not. Happening.
With a pit in my stomach I mumbled good bye to all my shocked friends and told them to save me my well-deserved prize. I drove to to aunt's house completely numb. Here I was, decked out to the nines in the ugliest sweater ever made, my hair teased and crimped, and the love of my life waiting to get the biggest laugh of his lifetime. Any small chance I ever had with him was gone. And in my melodramatic state, I pictured myself on my death bed, alone and loveless, with nothing to cling to in my final moments but the horrible sweater I now wore. I trudged up to my aunt's door and heard the laughter and clinking of glasses inside. I caught a glimpse of many well-dressed people milling about inside. How would I possibly live this down? I was just turning away from the door to further psych myself up when I heard my name.
I whirled around and there was my crush: smiling, eyes shining, beautiful – and wearing a hideously ugly Christmas sweater. It took me a second to register and when my eyes darted rapidly from his face to his chest, he started to laugh. It turns out he had been trying to sneak out and change before I showed up because he was mortified by his outfit, an early Christmas present from his grandmother that she had asked him to wear. If there was a sweater that existed that was uglier than mine, his was definitely it. We stood on the porch and laughed at our similarly humiliating situation ("At least yours is supposed to be ugly!" he said.) And then we spent the rest of the evening, as well as the next few years, happily and comfortably together.
—Alia RajputSee the Top Ten Summer 2016 Trends for Women Over 40