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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Who Am I?

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is Christmas Eve Mass with family.  As a young girl,  I loved seeing the members of our small town in upstate New York put a little extra sparkle and glamour into their normally casual appearance.  This year, I pressed my edge and went full out - a black 1940's hourglass dress with patent leather pumps, a purple hat with a feather sticking out, white vintage gloves and a jacket with faux fur cuffs. Looking in the mirror, I felt fabulous and gorgeous, but was surprised to also be feeling a little anxious. I mean, people get dressed up on Christmas, but not really this dressed up. It was pushing all my buttons of the messages I received as a child about how a woman "should" look. Reverent and humble was the name of the game, not  flamboyant and flashy. Was I being inappropriate? I mean,  who was I to be wearing something this glamorous and daring? Could I really pull this off?

It reminded me of when I was a child. There was a married couple in our Church whose daughters would come to visit over the holidays. I believed they were from New York City, because they always dressed with a certain panache and sense of style totally foreign to our tiny town.  I looked forward to seeing them every year at Mass, as I felt like I was catching a glimpse of what was possible for me as a woman once I grew up and got out of this small town life (which I now appreciate, but couldn't wait to abandon in my youth).

So I went for it, tossed my reservations aside and charged on in the name of extravagant beauty, a daring kind of elegance, and the risk being looked at as a wacko wearing a costume instead of clothes.  A tribute to the girls I had once admired, and had now become.

As I walked down the stairs so we could make our way to Mass, vindication arrived as I received the best compliment I could imagine: watching my 5 year old niece insist upon wearing her pretty Spring coat instead of her bulky winter one, her summer sandals with a tiny heel instead of her winter boots, and asking her Mommy if there were any gloves she could wear with her coat that might look like mine.

So, to answer the question of  "who am I to be wearing this?".  That's simple. I am Kitty Cavalier.

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