It's two weeks before Christmas, and things are going along pretty well. Most of the presents have been bought, the house is decorated. We even scaled back the enormous outdoor display we do every year and settled for simplicity in a lighted large, fresh wreath, reindeer and a post light with a bow. We wanted to enjoy the season without our usual stress.
So it was with surprise that, in front of a display of holiday cards that said "For the one I love, You are so special to me, I love you, You're the best thing that has ever happened to me, etc., etc.," we had an argument. An argument in the Hallmark store filled with customers and holiday decorations!
The argument was petty, as most arguments are that are due to tiredness and the holiday rush. But the hurt feelings lasted for two more days. What was the argument about? Writing out the Christmas and Hanukkah cards.
Every year we get cards from friends and family. The handwriting is always the same because it is usually the women who do the "card thing." Why is that?
Oh, men will write certain cards to people they feel especially close to, or want to impress, but most men will not sit down and write out cards to everyone on the list. My husband feels that card writing is not such a major chore that I should complain about it. He feels that "women do it better," but I disagree. It is one more thing added to my already long holiday to-do list.
I sound like Scrooge and the Grinch combined, I know, but there have been times I've been addressing cards at twelve midnight knowing that I have to get up at 5:30 a.m.! It isn't that I don't love and care for the people to whom we send the cards, I do; but a little help here would be nice.
Sending holiday greetings electronically, admittedly not as polite for the receiver as getting a card through the mail, but acceptable by those with limited time as we are, is no different. I have sent out these merry missives at 2:00 a.m. because it was quiet and the only time I really had.
One thing that we take for granted about the holidays is the "gender specific" chore theme. Husbands do the "big" things like put up the lawn decorations, carry the tree down from the attic or up from the basement. In the case of a live tree, they carry it in and set it up. Wives decorate the house, prepare the meal, and, of course, write the cards. Even in the 21st century, we seem to divide what has to be done gender-wise.
I know I'm not alone because I have heard my friends complain about the same things. We may have come a long way from the terms "men's work and women's work," but a remnant of what's appropriate for each gender subtly remains. Maybe we do it to ourselves by taking on certain responsibilities that for some reason we see as something only we know how to do best.
Wrapping gifts, card writing and emailing seem to fall in the feminine arts category while the lifting of boxes and carrying them from one place to another seems to be relegated to the masculine arts. These are almost certainly leftovers of a bygone era when chores were definitely more defined as to gender. Do we still want to do it that way? Maybe not.
Still, I will freely admit that carrying in and setting up a big tree is not something I want to do any more than my husband wants to go from room to room decorating a holiday theme or setting up the Victorian village with its infinite number of pieces. So ... Now what? Compromise and working together is the logical answer and it is crucial to a relationship, most especially around the holiday seasons when tempers can flare from overwork and little sleep.
After two days of not really speaking to each other, and realizing how totally dumb it was of us to fight over writing cards, we "kissed, made up, and then some" and decided to do away with holiday gender jobs and work together on making this a great holiday season for both of us.
We decided that, this year, we will share the cooking and serve it buffet style. This enables everyone to eat together instead of one person being busy serving and missing sitting down with family and friends. As for the cards, email, wrapping and decorating, we did most of it together and some special ones on our own. It made it less of a chore and more of a pleasure for us; nothing was relegated to only one person.
What exactly has come out of the seasonal blow-up in the Hallmark store and our decision to do away with the "gender-ized" chores? We found that we actually had more fun working together, planning what we wanted to do and how, and sharing the real holiday spirit with each other.
So all in all, the idea of doing things together and sharing the chores seems to be working out just fine and we plan to continue doing it. And that's what the holiday should be about; sharing the beauty of it all together, chores and all.
© 2011 Copyright Kristen Houghton
Kristen Houghton is the author of the hilarious new book, No Woman Diets Alone - There's Always a Man Behind Her Eating a Doughnut in the top 10 hot new releases at Amazon
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