I sent this to The Herald News for a December 26th run, or so I thought. The writer in charge of "Community Voices" never got back to me, and I couldn't find it in any archives, so who knows if it was ever published. Nevertheless, I've decided I just need to post more about what I'm thinking. . .
I watched a re-run of Family Guy last night. In this episode, Lois freaks out because she is exhausted from Christmas preparations. She sets fire to their tree and goes on a rampage through the town of Quahog. This episode really resonated with me, even though I don't have children. I have done the majority of the shopping for the approximately 40 people on our list, many of whom are nieces and nephews on my husband's side of the family. Last Saturday I spent hours wrapping all of those presents. And I'm still not done. I have to pick up something for my Dad, find the perfect book about trains for my Godson, get something for my neighbors who were overly generous last year, a gift certificate for my brother in law and his wife, go to Target and get dog toys for nine dogs, and maybe something else for my mother.
Then I have to buy the ingredients to make a Christmas Eve dessert, develop a shopping list for Christmas dinner, which will include making another dessert, and finish wrapping the gifts I haven't finished wrapping, including some I need to wrap when my husband is elsewhere.
Christmas has become a race to exhaustion. And while I love to buy Christmas presents, I wonder if we have stepped too far afield of its meaning. While we hear all the time that we have to "get back to the real meaning of Christmas," like a new group on Facebook called "Let's keep the Christ in Christmas," none of this addresses the pressure that, in most cases, women face during this time of year.
And why does the holiday pressure fall on women? I know I am the one who nagged my husband about decorating the house. I was the one who wanted our house to look "pretty" in my neighborhood. I was the one who went to get a tree and then decorated the whole thing while he cooked dinner one night. I did manage to get him to come shopping with me for some of our nieces and nephews, but I couldn't get him to move at the pace I needed. Am I the one who puts this pressure on me? Do women bring this on themselves? Or are men happy to let us take charge?
I often get a good cold this time of year. Women run themselves into exhaustion, staying up late wrapping presents or baking cookies or decorating. I wonder if next year, instead of getting back to the real meaning of Christmas, maybe we could begin to think of an equality of Christmas, where no one person in the home takes full responsibility for the increased chores that come with this beautiful season of lights.