Holiday Breakdown? Check.

Well, it had to happen sooner or later this month right?

Yesterday all of the stress of The Season came to a head, and I had to have a temper tantrum.  A little one.  A short one.  But a fit, none-the-less.  As per usual, I directed my frustrations at my favorite target, known on The Internets as D-a-v-i-d.  In the midst of it all, he took the girls to their rehearsal for their Sunday School Christmas program and left me to my pouting.

I solved my problems by writing him an email (I knew he’d get it on his phone) which was supposed to be ranty but ended up be a very inclusive list of all the things that I we need to do this week, all of the things that had been swirling around in my head and stressing me the fuck out.  Turns out, if you write them down, it’s not so stressful, and if you write them down AND SHARE THEM with your spouse, things start to seem very manageable indeed.


I think I must have learned this lesson before.

(How many more times will I need to RELEARN it before it sticks in ye ole noggin?)

Anyway, we managed to get a chunk of that list accomplished yesterday, and a (semi-quasi-loosey-goosey) plan has been made for accomplishing the rest.

But here’s the thing about holidays like this one– and I don’t mean to make sweeping generalizations here– but it seems like most of the men _I_ know (very involved fathers and all-around family-type guys) do not have nearly the load as their female counterparts do.  In my to do list this month is:  all of the planning, organizing, shopping for, keeping track of, and wrapping of nearly ALL of the gifts we buy; the planning, shopping for, and making of all of the baked goods; the planning, shopping for, and organizing of the holiday meals we will make; the planning, shopping for and making of all the dishes we are bringing to various family gatherings, as well as communicating with the family members to coordinate food; the organizing and planning of our trip to South Dakota the week after Christmas; the planning of everyone’s outfits, tights, shoes, hair, etc; keeping track of the kids’ programs, teacher gifts, and school parties; etc etc etc.  Plus, you know, all of the other stuff I do year round.

UGG.  And I forgot to add to the list the CHRISTMAS CARDS.  Taking, uploading, choosing, editing, and cropping of the photo(s), designing/ordering the cards, getting all the addresses together.  SHOOOOOT MEEEEEE NOOOOOOOWWWWW.  (My cards should be here tomorrow, fyi, if you’re waiting on one from me…) (And I find the Christmas cards one of the more enjoyable tasks of the month.)

David will help me with anything– no, really, anything— that I ask, but being the one that has to keep all of it in her brain, I get fairly stressed out.  And there are other things I want to do too:  fun things with the kids that will make this Christmas special, like watch a holiday movie, or drive around and look at the lights.  There’s just not enough head-space to deal with it all, ya know?  And it’s true that he worries about other things, takes care of other tasks, in our life together.  But Christmas (or any other holiday) doesn’t add much to his load.  Sometimes, I am envious and resentful of that luxury, that ability to carry one Business As Usual while I’m floundering under all of the extra stuff.  I put so much energy into “making it special” while he just… shows up.  Or waits for me to tell him what I need help with.

And again, he’s really helpful and supportive, once I get around to letting him in on what I need. But… well, that’s the whole problem.

Is this true for you too?  Who does most of the planning and organizing for holidays in your house?  If it’s you, do you get overwhelmed, too?  Feel free to get grinchy in the comments; it’ll help you feel better.  (Or maybe… just me?)


23 thoughts on “Holiday Breakdown? Check.

  1. Well, if you saw my comments on Twitter, you know I am in the same boat. Except that my husband really won’t help me with most things, even if I asked. For example, when I have asked him to help with wrapping, he says, “Wrapping isn’t important. Just put it in a Target bag.” What the hell!

    He does buy a few presents. I’ve asked him to buy for 4 people this year. (In comparison, I bought for 14.) He is at the mall right now, and he will probably come home with super random things, but that’s why I only ask him to shop for a few people. (He went to the local mall, not the MOA, which will be crazy, but not AS crazy.)

    I do all the Christmas card stuff. I don’t have one of his grandma’s addresses for some reason, so I asked H to get it two weeks ago. He asked his mom, and she said, “Oh, just give it to him next time you see her.” Who knows when we will see her?! (You see where H gets it from now.) Anyway, after bugging H for weeks and getting nowhere, I finally e-mailed one of H’s cousins on Facebook to get the address, and she sent it to me right away.

    Thank the Lord we don’t have to find nice outfits or do school stuff yet!

    In H’s defense (barely), he put up the tree by himself last night, which was nice. I don’t really like putting up the tree. He even involved our two-year-old, which was really cute.

    Sigh, I feel a little better now. =)


    Okay, enough caps.

    Yes, it is like that at my house, too. I have to decide what gift each person will get, how much to spend, acquire said gift, then wrap same gift, and ship it off in time if needed. What does he have to do?

    Not a damn thing.

    Like you he’d help if I would just ask him but for the most part, it isn’t worth the explaining it would take to get him to do it. I did ask him to vacuum the basement today, which he did happily while I vacuumed the entire rest of the house, mopped the floors and cleaned the bathrooms. He felt happy he contributed and I chose not to stew about having to do everything my damn self.

  3. AMEN.

    I start early, and I buy gifts for EVERYONE (sometimes even myself). I bake the cookies, I plan the parties, I make reservations with supper for Santa, I take the pictures, I make the cards, buy the stamps, mail the packages, mail the cards, wrap the presents, etc, etc, etc.
    He puts the outside lights and decor up. The end.

  4. Ours started the first year we were married. It was like I was instantly in charge of buying all gifts and mailing all birthday cards. Even for his own family. HIS PARENTS. And when I’d ask what in the hell I was supposed to get for people he was completely clueless and unhelpful. Like he was the one that had recently met these people and not the one that had known them his whole damn life.

    AND!! He wants to bitch at me about how much I spend. Well, then do the shopping your own damn self. GAH.

    I hate that this time of year, which should be magical, is just one big chore for me. A month solid of “have to dos” and then a collapse. There’s no Christmas Spirit in that.

  5. OH!!! And the lights!!! We’ve had outside lights to put up for SIX YEARS. They are still in the original packaging. They have never been put up. I’ve asked every. single. year. and yet? He’s too busy? Doing what? Because it sure as hell ain’t shopping, wrapping or baking.

  6. My fit was this past Thursday. I was making huge arm gestures as I “explained” to Paul how much I needed to do ON TOP OF all my regular work. Baking for bake sales, shopping for gifts and wrapping them and mailing them, sending the cards, getting all the stuff the school asks for AAAAAAAAAAAA. Meanwhile, Paul’s job is to buy my gifts. That’s it.

  7. And I have to get and decorate the tree, and water it. And worry about teacher and mail carrier gifts. And Paul WOULD help if I asked, but I don’t really want him to help.

    • Well, credit where credit is due etc: David DOES do the tree. This year, in fact, he took the kids and picked it out and had it standing in the living room when I returned. And while I would HATE that job… it still seems so… simple compared to the brain-space all the rest of it takes. Plus, we get our tree early in the month, before things get DIRE and FRANTIC. Also, I’m in charge of decorating it- and the rest of the house.

  8. I also do all of the outside decorations. And the tree trimming, though he does bring the tree up from the basement. Wait a minute!!! I brought up the tree this year b/c he was busy. Grrrr, the more I think about it, the more irritated I get.

  9. My husband is the same way – will do things if asked, but I still have to know everything that needs to be done. Last week, he was in charge of picking up gift cards for the cousins and said he would handle the wrapping. 15 minutes before we have to leave he asks if I have any Christmas cards anywhere. I DO have them, but what would he have done if I didn’t? He says he would have just handed them the unwrapped cards. My ass, he would have.

  10. Yep. I pretty much do that whole list you laid out there. And it always feels even more annoying because it’s “my fault” because the reality is that I am unwilling to relinquish control of these things. I want to send out nice cards, not cards from the dollar store (what my husband would do). So I do it myself.
    Honestly, I just really want some recognitions, mostly. If every once in awhile I could just hear “Wow, this is so much work for you, you’re doing such a good job” or even “I could never do all that” or “I don’t know how you do it”, I’d be SO HAPPY. Instead I basically get treated like the INSANE ONE who has to be SO OVER THE TOP about the holidays and can’t just send out cards from the dollar store and shop for people’s presents at the Gap Outlet at the very last minute.

  11. I just asked my husband if it occurred to him that I do pretty much ALL the prep for Christmas. His response was, “Yup.”

    Well played hubs. Well played.

  12. I feel like I could have written this post (well, except for the part about tights and hair, since we only have penises around these parts). The hubs helps when I ask, but he has no clue what goes into our “effortless” Christmas time.

  13. In the past, this has definitely been the case round here. This year, however, is special in that my partner left me on 01 May so this year I’m totally on my own. I feel like I’ve done OK, given that I have 2 jobs and the care of our 2 daughters plus all the regular school-cooking-cleaning-housework-laundry-shopping stuff to deal with. The cards are done and sent, the tree is up, I’ve done all my present shopping, I’ve only got a batch of cookies and a batch of mince pies to do this week and some work to finish up, and all the wrapping (but the girls will be with their father on Christmas Eve, so I’ll do it all then with a bottle of wine and a good DVD on), but I feel more or less on top. Except… except… no food shopping done, nothing planned for Christmas Day and little time to get it done. *sigh*
    This Christmas isn’t going to be the happiest for me, and I have felt totally snowed under, but actually not having my ex around pretending to be helpful has been – dare I say it? – OK – I know I have to do it all so I just get it done. And thank God for Amazon…

  14. Ugh. I feel your stress, although thankfully we are done with the part of Christmas that is taking place at our house, and my husband is great about doing whatever needs to be done, as long as I ask him to.
    One suggestion, on Christmas cards; I started a google docs spreadsheet last year with all our Christmas card people and their addresses. Then, through the year, I’ve added and taken people off if necessary, and updated addresses when they moved. Now, once our cards finally arrive, the addresses will be ready to just be printed on labels. And yes. I am too lazy to hand write them all out. People should be happy they are getting a card; who cares if I hand-write their address on it?

    • We have a Xcel spreadsheet of addresses, too (left over from our wedding invitations, funny enough). But there’s still addresses to be gathered and deleted and people to add etc. But we don’t hand address, either. Is that… expected? GAH.

  15. Same story here. I just feel like why should I HAVE to ASK. Nobody asks me to wash his underwear or cook the meals, or drive the kids all over town. However, 15 years of marriage have taught me that it is better to ask than to argue.

  16. Yes. YES. I am late to the party here, but I just needed to say YES. Hub will help me with whatever I ask him to help with. We do all the shopping together. But managing the pictures and the making of the calendars and the baking, and the decorating, and the actual shopping lists, and the coupons and the inventory of what we already have….GAH!! It makes my head hurt. It helps that I am a list maker, but still.

    Hub’s usual job is to take care of the outside decorations, but with 4 feet of snow, he got out of that one. All he really *had* to do was cut down the tree and get it back to the truck. I took a little bit of pleasure in my 2-yo insisting that he carry her while he was carrying our Christmas tree out of the woods.

  17. Put my tally mark on YOUR SIDE of doing it all. But you know what? I don’t know if the husband would give a rats a$$ if I didn’t. Somehow, that makes me mad, too. What’s wrong with me???

    I do know that this was my final round for Christmas cards. I sent (not counting a bloggers card exchange) about 40 cards. Total recieved in return to date: 8. I’m buying one box next year and responding only to those that come to me FIRST.

    Bah. No humbug. Just bah.

  18. I tend to take charge of the planning, but Torsten has been pretty equal in the execution in the past. Once there’s a kid in the picture, we’ll see how that changes.

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