Did you know that the ugly-Christmas-sweater trend was started way back in the late-1800s by Emmett Lee Dickinson (Emily Dickinson's third cousin, twice removed -- at her request)?
He came upon some of his sisters throwing out some particularly ugly holiday sweaters, but he saw something appealing and delightful in them, and he retrieved them from the trash. He distributed many to friends as gifts and then held an "ugly Christmas sweater party." The affair was so popular, it became an annual event -- and he commemorated the event in his now-classic poem "The Sweater that we did not prize" (below on the left). His poem inspired third cousin Emily to pen her poem "The Summer that we did not prize" (below on the right).
By Emmett Lee Dickinson:
The Sweater that we did not prize,
Is treasured now today
Prepares us of a party now
To observe the holiday –
Arrives myself – takes off my Coat
And scans the office party
For Knits that should be out of sight,
Now conscious of their humor.
By Emily Dickinson:
The Summer that we did not prize,
Her treasures were so easy
Instructs us by departing now
And recognition lazy –
Bestirs itself – puts on its Coat,
And scans with fatal promptness
For Trains that moment out of sight,
Unconscious of his smartness.