Every year, it's the same old Christmas story in my house: On Christmas morning, my husband wakes up, sips his coffee and partakes in the joy on our children's faces as they tear into their presents. It's a beautiful scene in so many ways, but it's especially fun for my husband for one important reason:
It's the first time he's laid eyes on a single one of their presents.
Yup. Heck, my husband is practically as excited as they are because it's just as much of a surprise for him as it is for them.
The truth is, as December draws near, the entirety of the world of holiday "magic" rests completely on my shoulders.
I do all of the shopping, all of the wrapping, all of the careful paper-swapping so Santa's gift wrap is different, all of the baking, all of the cooking, all of the cleaning, all of the teacher gifts, all of the cutesy kid crafts, all of the holiday outfit coordination, all of the festive activities, all of the party-keeping-track-of, all of the cookie-making, all of the little-kid secret-gift keeping, all of the in-law gifting, all of the budget-keeping, all of the financing and the annual yearly photo book that I put together that takes me approximately 10,000 hours of manpower and lost sleep.
All my husband is responsible for is putting together any large presents and tackling any package opening that seems to require actual power tools. Oh, and showing up when I tell him to.
I'm sure many of you are reading this, nodding your heads and thinking, Yasss, girl, me too! and there's part of me that wonders why on earth we all just accept this like it's normal. Why don't men want to be involved with all the "magic" of the holidays, anyway?
I still don't think it's fair that women do all the work of the holidays by default, or that it should be our "job" to figure out who does what ...
This is why many of us moms are left feeling stuck and exhausted during the holiday season. We don't want to be the only ones doing all the work, but we also don't want to micromanage our partners into doing the work with us. It's easier to just do it ourselves. So we do.
But, at this rate, how will things ever change?
After 11 years of this holiday dilemma, I've finally decided I have two real options: 1. Be bitter about it and ruin the holidays for myself or 2. Accept what I cannot change and work on the rest.
I decided to examine the true scope of my feelings: Did I really despise doing all of the work, or was I OK with it as long as my husband was pulling his weight in our partnership in other ways? For example, was I OK with buying the gifts if he'll always shovel the driveway when it snows?
I then went through all of the holiday details that I'm responsible for and assessed if I really and truly was struggling with stress over them, and if so, how I could change it. In the end, I came to the conclusion that there were only a few things that truly stressed me out and robbed me of holiday joy, and turned those things over to my husband or eliminated them completely (R.I.P. Elf on the Shelf). The rest, I decided I would take on with a smile on my face because I truly enjoyed doing them.
I still don't think it's fair that women do all the work of the holidays by default, or that it should be our "job" to figure out who does what, but I know that dwelling on this was creating resentment for me. So, while I may change my mind in the future, I've come to the conclusion that I'm (mostly) happy without my husband's help for the holidays.
As long as he keeps shoveling the driveway.