Let’s acknowledge upfront that this post is a generalization and that husbands and dads who help out and contribute to all the extra stuff that accompanies the holidays do exist.
That being said, it’s safe to say that many women carry the burden of the holiday responsibilities.
The cooking, the shopping, the surprising, the creating.
We complain about it, but the reality is that we have put ourselves in this position by loading up our schedules with too much stuff to do between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then when our husbands don’t help, we get mad at them.
But our husbands aren’t usually the ones saying we have to make cookies from scratch and let’s do a craft and we have to go to the Smith’s party and why isn’t the house decorated for Christmas and we NEED a picture with Santa and we have to get the kids matching Christmas pajamas!!!
But what about the other stuff?
What about the shopping and the wrapping and the cooking and the coordinating and the scheduling and the logisitcating? (I made that last word up, but you know exactly what it means.)
The reality for most of us is who find ourselves in the super frustrating situation where our spouses aren’t helping us out is that we have set a precedent where we do EVERYTHING and then we complain when we do everything.
But then we keep doing everything.
And when we keep doing everything, we are communicating to our husbands that we are okay with doing everything.
Even if we aren’t.
If you find yourselves unable to enjoy the holidays because you are shouldering ALL the responsibilities, then it’s your job to make changes, and it’s your job to communicate that with your spouse.
Husbands. We want your help.
And we are sorry for not communicating this clearly.
We want help with shopping for presents.
You can help in a number of ways.
You can take over the responsibility of buying gifts for your side of the family.
Or you can make sure that dinner is covered on those weekend days when your wife is out shopping for everyone in your family.
We want help wrapping the presents.
We totally want help wrapping the presents.
Or you could help by taking the kids somewhere so we can wrap presents without the fear of getting caught in the act.
You can help out by making sure on the days we have to go to a party or to a relatives house that you help get the kids ready to go.
You can also majorly help out on the days we have to go to someone’s house with the kids for a party or dinner or whatever by NOT starting a major project like cleaning out the garage or reshingling the roof three hours before it’s time to go.
You can help out by offering — no, by DEMANDING, that you clean up in the kitchen after Thanksgiving dinner.
You can help out by making sure we have the opportunity to sit in a recliner and kick back for an hour on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
You can also help out by acknowledging how much you appreciate everything we do to make the holidays special for everyone.
Oh, acknowledging would go a LONG LONG LONG LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG way.
There are lots of other ways you could help us out.
Just say to your wife, “Hey Babe. I really want you to be able to take some of the responsibilities off your shoulders in the next couple weeks. What can I do that would really help you out?”
Your wife may be speechless for a couple minutes, but give her time.
We wives acknowledge that we, in turn, cannot be critical when you do help out.
We agree to refrain from nitpicking and judging and cringing when you do things differently than we do. Because we know that will not encourage you to continue pitching in. We promise to chill the fuck out and remember that the holidays are not about how neatly a present is wrapped or even about the way in which is present is wrapped.
There are many ways to wrap a present, after all.
And we commit to maintaining perspective. To remembering that the holidays are not about perfection. They are not about keeping up with other people.
They are about being present with the people who mean the most to us.
All the other stuff is really just icing on the cake.