Cynics might suggest that all this brightness is a grab for attention, or that I’m spending so much effort in one area to make up for the deficit in another.

But while I confess that I’m a middle child born a scant four days before Christmas, I can say in all honesty that even my most carefully, lovingly selected outfit has been assembled with zero vanity. I’ll wear my favorite ensembles without brushing my hair with any degree of competence, and I’m simply not talented enough at applying makeup to wear it in public. It’s not that my dress is meant to make a favorable impression at a party. It’s that the dress is the party–a commitment to the possibility that there is always something to celebrate, no matter how much else is going wrong.

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