We’re All Winners at Christmas

Whenever I’m home visiting my mother in the Sault she wants me to take her credit card and go buy myself something smart to wear to work.

That poor woman. Still trying after all these years. At my last job, I alternated two pair of jeans for several weeks in a row, even though I have two good quality suits. It’s just that I look like a waiter in one and a clown in the other.

I have small shoulders.

I used to dress for success with men but I’m happy with my beau and don’t really have much interest in flirting anymore, my idea of flirting being fishnet stockings and off the shoulder mini knits funked up with pointy-toed shoe boots.

But I’ve got all my new lesbian friends to flirt with now. Who knew lesbians were so much fun?

That’s right, nobody.

But seriously, I love hanging out with lesbians. And my mid-life (okay, if I live to be 106) style is much more suitable to flirting with lesbians than it is with men. Because although I could wear fishnet stockings and off the shoulder mini knits, I’d have to funk them up with platypus shoes on account of my Paul Bunions.

Of course, I want to be a good daughter, so I pretend to my mother that when I’m working I dress like a friend of mine, who comments here and always looks like she’s a nominee for a best dressed public servant award.

No, best dressed Ottawan award. Cripes, she’d be the only nominee for a best dressed public servant award.

Okay, that was mean and so not true. There are lots of best dressed public servants in Ottawa. But she really does stand out as better dressed than all the rest. She’s walking, sitting, date-stamping fashion art, is what she is.

Anyway, on the second day in to the visit my mother will hand me her credit card and say, “Go to Winners. See if they have something smart that would look good on you even with your small shoulders.”

Now, my mother has always been a very stylish person, who could have taught Hillary Clinton a thing or two about how to wear a pantsuit without looking boxy – even with crazy 80s shoulder pads. (Although she’d just take a pair of box cutters to that hair.) And I doubt she owns anything from Winners. But a friend of hers has a daughter in fashion and she told my mother that the Winners in the Sault is the best Winners in Canada.

I really would like to know where the worst Winners in Canada is.

Because the thing with Winners is, it’s awful. Every time I go into a Winners, I feel bad for everybody. And I never find anything I feel good buying because everything’s so awful. It’s not even inexpensive awful. It’s just awful, a retail repository for the hangovers of all the other awful stores in the world.

And my mother really can’t afford to buy me anything so I just pretend Winners didn’t have anything to fit my small shoulders and return her credit card to her. Still, the last time I was home and bought myself a necklace and earrings at a store on Queen Street, she was so excited by how good they looked on me that she insisted on giving me $40 for them.

Don’t tell her, but they only cost me $20.

There’s a Winners commercial now appearing on CBC (I canceled cable, so much happier without it, although I think CBC should be called The Kevin O’Leary Show) that comes close to capturing how awful Winners is. Indeed, ’tis the season, apparently, “When your appreciation for brand names is appreciated by all”.

Wow, way to market appreciation, Winners.

I was recently at a gathering of friends, all mothers, and they were selling each other on their Christmas spirit, of which I am bereft, and it actually started sounding like everyone had gone temporarily insane.

So I was excited to read this Anna Lappe quote (when I googled her, I found she’s the Anna Lappe of O magazine, as opposed to the little known philosopher I assumed she was, having spied the quote on Facebook, where I hang out more than I’m writing my book, unfortunately): “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want”.

I like the quote because it reminds us that we’re not the powerless drones we often fall into thinking we are, and that we’re so often telling each other we are, we just need to think about how we’re spending our own money. We can’t do anything about Conservative governments spending millions on gazebos and billions on war planes (I don’t know why we can’t, but apparently we can’t), but we can stop spending money on Christmas.

The thing is, I’m not anti-Christmas. I like Christmas now. It’s like an old-fashioned Sunday for me. But that’s because I don’t celebrate it. Christmas doesn’t make sense anymore. We’re drowning in consumption, we’ve got a childhood obesity epidemic, the climate is changing because of our daily orgy of excess.

Want to get as far away from a Winners Christmas as you can?

Join me in not celebrating it because, “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want”.


  1. What I like about Christmas is the music. As I overheard an adult tell his daughter at a Xmas party Saturday night who was complaining about the holiday tunes……..”Don’t worry, come New Year’s we can all go back to listening to 50 cent threatening to kill all his motherfuckin homies, but in the meantime, can we just enjoy the break”?

    As for being “middle-aged” there is a certain melancoly that goes along with it………not depression…just the sense that “nothing excites us anymore”. Where have all the years gone? What’s it all about? As I tell my teenaged daughter who won’t clean her room because she didn’t ask to be born. “Well you were; so may as well make the best of it”! This was a slightly more elevated rejoinder than the usual “AW SHADDUP”! But we middle-agers should do the same……….make the best of it.

  2. Heh – you were in that entry twice, Monica. I agree with you about the music, and I’m down with the season, the lead up to Christmas. What I don’t celebrate anymore is Christmas day. I’m just saying no to all of it, the feasting, the consumerism. But my kids are young adults and celebrate the day with their grandparents, so it’s easy for me to take the stand that I do. This year I’m going flat out not celebrating Christmas day. We’ll put lights up outside, because our neighbours do and it looks nice, but that’s really it. I’m unemployed, too. I just want to show some solidarity with people who’ve had enough of the pressure to spend. I think Christmas is over, I really do, but so many of us continue to go through the motions. The middle-class has to start taking some responsibility for climate change, poverty, all the stuff we blame on politicians and the rich.

  3. “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want”

    Adam Smith and his invisible hand would agree. Well done fellow conservative!

  4. “The middle-class has to start taking some responsibility for climate change, poverty, all the stuff we blame on politicians and the rich.”

    FYI: Most poor people are uneducated losers.

  5. FYI: You’re wrong. The most ignorant people in the country are currently running it.

  6. You’re not conservative, by the way, you’re a spendthrift.