I love Christmas. I love Christmas decorations, Christmas lights, Christmas cookies and I can't get enough of Mariah Carey telling me I'm all she wants. I am the person those songs were written for. I'm totally psyched that It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas. It IS The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
But, now that I'm a mom, I've realized that if we're hosting the party that means I'm designing the Paperless Post, managing the responses, making the shopping list and scheduling the prep. If there are going to be marshmallows for roasting I better put them on my shopping list. If we're carolling out in the snow it's because I got on TimeOut.com to research caroling for kids. Thank God somewhere along the line, scary ghost stories stopped being part of the experience, or you can bet I'd be the one on Wikipedia figuring that out, too.
And what is my husband doing? Well, last night I looked up from writing Christmas cards to his far-flung family (that I had designed and ordered) to find him asleep in front of the fire with a book on his chest. It took all my willpower not to club him to death with the fireplace poker.
I don't get it. Santa is a dude. So shouldn't his influence have trickled down to some sort of fair division of holiday labor? It would be one thing if the men weren't the beneficiaries of all our sweat and multitasking, but they want a Currier and Ives Christmas morning as much as we do. Only that doesn't seem to translate into them doing a single f*cking thing to make that happen.
Every one of my girlfriends has to shop for her family, her children and her husband's family. What did guys do before they had wives?! Did they show up empty-handed?! I know what my husband did. He would realize every December 22nd that Christmas was going to strangely fall on the 25th again that year and spend $75 (I'm not exaggerating) on expedited shipping.
Now that I'm the household manager, I can't stomach that kind of waste. I know that if we get organized at the beginning of the month there are tons of daily sales and free shipping options to be taken advantage of. So I nudge him every day about what he thinks his friends' kids might like this year (yes, that's fallen in my lap, too), what his mother's favorite color is, what size he thinks she is this year (it fluctuates. "It does?" my husband asked. Jesus, do these men not have eyes?!) and can his nephew watch PG-13 yet?
The interesting thing, though, is that while I love the holiday season, I hate the actual day of Christmas. Hate it. I hate the gift exchange and leave my body for it completely. Why? Because after a month of shopping and wrapping and baking, my mother would dissolve into a torrent of rage and resentment. My dad would flip out in turn and then my sister would start screaming at me because I was the lowest on the totem pole. I spent many a Christmas Eve sobbing in my bathroom and wondering if it was OK for an 8-year-old to head out looking for an all-night diner.
But I get it now. Why my usually mild-mannered mother used to wrap presents in the dining room to a running soundtrack of murmured, "F*ck. F*ckety f*ck f*ck." Why she looked exhausted by the time we sat down to our four-course Christmas Eve dinner that would be followed by a six-course Christmas Day feast for twenty.
It was all on her. If she wanted to make up for their post-war childhoods of deprivation and fill the house with cheer and the smell of cinnamon, she was going to basically work an entire extra job for four weeks straight (don't get me started on Thanksgiving) on top of running her own business and raising two girls.
I don't want to be that mother. I don't want to think of the holidays as something I have to "get through." I don't want to go on strike. I don't want to do what my grandmother did -- hand my daughter her gifts and say, "If you want them wrapped, do it yourself." I love our annual holiday party, even though it's ballooned to almost a hundred guests. I just wish, as I lay there in the dark, trying to remember where I saw the best deal on a toy kitchen, that my husband was awake, strategizing about a spiral-cut ham.
So Santa, here's what I want for Christmas this year. Use your influence. Flex some muscle. Tell the guys to step up to the plate. So that it really can be the most wonderful time of the year for everyone.