Ever since I was little, I have had a deep love for Christmas. I would show my love by dressing up in over-the-top outfits that would scream Christmas. I would proudly wear a huge red felt skirt with foam Christmas trees glued on it to school or around my town during their celebrations. Nowadays those outfits would probably be deemed as “Ugly Christmas Outfits” and would be a hit at a party. But back then, I didn’t see it like that. I was simply showing my love for the season of giving.

As the years went by, I left that small Tennessee town and ventured to New York City and earned my degree in fashion design. In the last couple of years, I have made a living doing costume design for various theaters. I went through a dark period where I questioned why I pursued a career in clothing anyway. But then I thought back to the younger me who glued rhinestones to the corner of her eyes, who wore cat ear headbands because it was Tuesday, who wasn’t afraid to be different and thought being called weird was a compliment. Who, every Christmas showed love for the Holiday through her clothes. I thought back to parading around town in my Christmas attire and people, young and old, would stop and smile, and sometimes say that just looking at me dressed up made their day. That’s when I realized why I pursued this life: to make people smile with clothing.

With this new Christmas season coming up so quickly, I had my new outfit planned out for a year: to become a real-life Christmas Tree. I made a Tree skirt for my dress form last year as it was a very popular Pinterest find. But this year I wanted to take it one step further and actually wear the skirt.

Originally I was going to debut my outfit in Central Park since I now live in New York. But then I remembered that I was going home for Thanksgiving and thought that there wouldn’t be a better time to do it then in my hometown, during their Christmas celebration, the day after Thanksgiving. I spent the whole week crafting this skirt with the help of my cousins. We picked out the Douglass fir, wrapped chicken wire around a dress form, and tied down each and every branch.

The Friday after Thanksgiving came and my mother and I braved the court square of my town to spread Christmas joy. Stepping out of the car, I had the same rush of nerves I had when she dropped me off at the door of my high school when I was overdressed and a little nervous about my peer’s reactions.

13-year-old me

As soon as we reached the court square, I remembered why I did this. The children, that were waiting to see Santa, were amazed by my outfit and ran up to take a picture and to receive a free candy cane. Mothers smiled and hurried to get her phone out for a photo op. Of course, being from a small town I ran into plenty of people who knew me growing up: my teachers, my mother’s coworkers, old neighbors, all of whom said they didn’t expect anything less of me. When it was all over, I was reminded again why I chose this path which coincidentally, I think is one of the reasons why Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year to make people smile.