It’s the Monday before Thanksgiving here in the northwest which means the rain is lashing against the windows, and the house is in partial shambles awaiting the magical transformation into a more tidy version of itself. I am contemplating which wines to serve with dinner on Thursday as well as a whole host of things. Namely ties and dressing.
This morning Mister Soandso asked my opinion on his choice of neck-wear. To be honest, I like almost all of his ties. (And no honey, I’m not ‘fessing up to which one(s) I don’t like. So there.) But I understand his desire to look his best, so I pushed up my glasses and focused on his chest. Hmm, too busy? Too red? Too blue? Too not quite right? I suspect most mornings when I am called in to give my opinion, I am mostly supposed to agree with his choices. After all, he is the man who gives me fashion tips, not the other way around.
So there we stood, under the light in our closet as he looped ties around his neck and we tipped our heads from one side to the other and narrowed our choices. I finally commented, “I hate the psychological aspect of men’s ties.” No, I wasn’t referring to a bit of fabric being tied about a man’s neck and the possible inference of strangulation. I was referring to the power-red versus the confident blue, yada yada yada.
Mister Soandso responded, “It’s the only thing we have.”
I want to break that down a bit. Think about women’s clothes versus men’s. A good example of the disparities of these two beasts starts with babies. A holiday/fancy outfit for a boy is pants + shirt + vest/sweater + shoes. For a girl that outfit is typically dress + sweater + hat + purse + gloves + tights + shoes. (Ok, within reason, season, and location.) Much the same happens for the adults. Men wear a suit or some variation of it. Women chose between skirt/blouse, dress, pantsuit, pants/blouse. Both wear shoes but the variations for men versus women is mind boggling. And then there comes the accouterments that are where the statement is made.
Pearls? Bangles? A simple chain with a pendant? Brooch or earrings or bracelet or a scarf or a hat or ohmygodmakeitstop. It’s all window dressing!!!
Men get ties. So you’d better believe that men make the best of those things. They send a message, set the tone for how the man should be perceived at the moment. For men, the window dressing created by a tie choice is an idea not to be trifled with, for goodness’ sake.
There is actually scads and scads of window dressing in our lives. Even much more simple lifestyles still have their share of window dressing usage. Women do it, men do it, heck even the birds do it!
And at no time is the usage of window dressing more in use than at the holidays.
This Thursday my husband’s extended family will gather in our home. We will have scurried about, finally throwing away the stacks of junk mail that accumulate, dusting off the bookshelves, and ironing out the wrinkles in the table cloths. We will get out our good dishes, our family silverware, polish up the glasses. We will present our best for our family and it will be great.
But will it be great enough for them to not remember the time they dropped in unexpectedly and the camping gear was in the living room, three weeks after we returned from camping? Will they remember the time they pulled a fork out of the silverware drawer and there was gunk stuck to it? Will they think about the time they dropped by and had to use the bathroom which had undies and socks on the floor rather than in the laundry basket?
I have a feeling that they won’t.
When family and friends gather, it is good to be our real selves just as much as our more fancy selves. Proof of this is found on the traditional Thanksgiving plate. The turkey may have been fussed over for hours and presented with much care and breath holding, but everybody knows that what folks really want is a big old helping of dressing/stuffing with gravy on it anyway. Dressing is comfort food. Bits of bread too stale to make a good sandwich from, reconfigured into something tasty and special. Dressing is a taking the normal and polishing it up into something different for the moment. And we love it.
As for my house, just in case I wake up Thursday and say “to heck with it! I’m drinking coffee and watching the parade. Screw vacuuming!” I really don’t think my family will care too terribly much.
After all, window dressing doesn’t change reality. Family isn’t gathering in order to judge one another and so what if they’ve seen us at our most untidy, dusty, and disheveled? That’s a bit of who we are just like the shiny bright and tidy one that hopefully will show up on Thursday to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving.
So to all of you who will prepare in some way, small or great, for Thursday, remember this. Dressing is a mighty good thing. But at the end of the day, it’s still just regular bread doing its job but looking perhaps a bit more special at the moment.