"All I want for Christmas . . . is a nap!" was a card I couldn¹t resist at
the local stationery store. It was a card custom made for many a working
woman. Around Thanksgiving time you can see the crazed caretaker component
of a woman's brain kick into full gear. It sends her careening down the road
to make the holidays special, honking at anyone who gets in its way right up
to New Year's.
You think you don't give to others first? Close your eyes.
Remember how your shoulders felt on, say, December 26, last year. Was
"Surviving Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Ramadan)" the subtitle to
Join the club.
I grew up wondering why I saw the men lollygagging around the table and TV,
while the ladies labored in the kitchen. I'm still wondering today. The
woman of the house scurries around making, serving, and cleaning up after
the feast for her clan.
Oh right. That is after she has trudged through the mall and shopped for,
wrapped, and sent a mound of gifts. Oh right. That is after she came home
from the office and helped the kids with their homework. Oh right. That is
after she did the laundry, grocery shopping, and the housework. Oh right.
That's after she made her legendary Cinnamon Cake. Sounds crazy? I wonder
what another species would say?
Crazed for Christmas
My cat tried to weigh in on the subject, but I thought you would be more
interested in what The Census Bureau had to say. The Labor Department Time
Use Survey followed 21,000 people on their activities during an average day
last year. Working women averaged about 7 hours more housework than did
employed men. In households with the youngest child under 6 years of age,
women spent an average of 18.9 hours in child care activities, compared to
the 8.4 hours for men.
"The very word 'marriage' is so deeply associated with the idea that it
involves men having to do less housework. Even the most untraditional couple
will fall into it after marriage, unless they are very conscious of it. They
judge themselves against this centuries-old standard of what a wife does,
which they didn't have to do when they were just living together," says
Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage: A History.
Where is the weight of making this holiday a special one, the heaviest? It
is in households with small children. It prompts me to ask the zen question,
"Have you ever seen your boyfriend, husband or brother actually wrap a
present?" I hope that some wise Labor Department groups studies the extra
time women put into making the holidays merry. Until then, here are some
tips so that the holidays don't flambe your day.
Five Fab Phrases To Help Your Holiday
Often women don't get help during the holidays because they don't ask.
"I need your help with _______." This will often get your guy involved.
("Help" is a word that I have had to learn, and it is very effective.) It
seems to make all requests more potent.
"Are you going to make the cookies for the 13th consecutive holiday party?"
Smiling is a fine accessory to choose when saying no.
"No, but I thank you for thinking of me." When you are called a day later and asked, "Are you sure you aren't going to
make the cookies for the 13th consecutive holiday party?" Everything sounds
better when you are smiling.
This is a great phrase to whip out and let the folks in your life know that
you need some sleep. "I'd love to sew a new Santa Claus outfit, and I need
to get at least six hours of sleep tonight."
Eli Davidson is a nationally recognized executive coach and motivational
Her book, "Funky to Fabulous: Surefire Success Stories for The Savvy, Sassy
and Swamped", (Oak Grove Publishing) has won three national book awards.