family

Since my early twenties, I've known: Christmas completely f***s with feminism.

I remember my boyfriend’s parents were alerted to my being on the scene when he showed up with thoughtfully-chosen and impeccably-wrapped Christmas gifts.

Even in my early twenties, the notion that Christmas was women’s business was entrenched in my psyche.

I became his personal gift advisory and wrapping service of my own volition.

Things mums never say at Christmas. Post continues after video.

Video by Mamamia

Fast-forward fifteen years and I’m still the self-appointed Christmas manager of my domain.

My husband says we should ditch the gifts and grab a roast chicken to eat at the beach on the big day. While this has obvious appeal, the hold of Christmas obligation always proves stronger. It runs deep in my family.

I don’t want to disappoint my mum who doesn’t want to disappoint her mum—who sits on the precipice of falling off her perch, elevating the obligation to the next level.

And I don’t want to disappoint my kids who base their expectations on Christmas movies and advertising that mandate there should be a massive pile of gifts under their tree.

Over the years I’ve become painfully aware of the massive time vampire that Christmas has become. I’ve also started to notice the gargantuan gap between how much I do for Christmas versus that of my husband.

Kate and her husband
My husband and me.
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In life, we play fair. I cook, he cleans. We share school drop-offs and the like. But for the battle of Christmas, I’m reduced to an army of one. I wish this was a small blip in my family dynamic, but this inequity is widely spread.

Catherine Deveny blames Christmas for turning feminism back 150 years.

As she writes in The Age; “You know what I want for Christmas? To be a kid or a bloke. Having children and a vagina basically means being a slave and an emotional potty for the last two weeks of December”.

And there are many women who start Christmas shopping in October, extending their ‘potty-period’ for months. And the notion that Christmas is women’s business is reinforced by advertising and even the most charming of Christmas films.

Actress Emma Thompson is crafting paper mache lobsters for the nativity play, wrapping gifts and spreading cheer in Love Actually.

At the helm of every Christmas movie before #metoo, there’s one very hardworking woman. The weight of Christmas expectation sits predominantly on women’s shoulders.

At best, husbands reluctantly undertake tasks delegated by the female Christmas CEO’s of the household. Gift giving often reinforces gender stereotypes. Especially in the realm of obligation-led gift-giving for Aunty Iris or Uncle Ian (whose personal interests remain unknown).

Because most of us are buying things for people we only partly know, we resort to perfumed candles for the ladies and bbq tools for the gents.

If you disagree, just try to picture how happy your Uncle Greg would be receiving a pair of oven mitts on Christmas Day.

How many men are the lucky recipients of the regulation socks and jocks? How many women sigh inwardly at another gift of ‘stylish’ salad servers?

Kate CHRISTMAS
I am my household's self-appointed Christmas manager.
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The Irish are slightly more progressive than the rest.

They have a special day called Nollaig na mBan in Irish Gaelic. Otherwise known as women’s Christmas.

It’s the day after Christmas when Irish women are allowed to rest and recover after their hard work over the Christmas period.

This post-Christmas rest day is a start. But is it enough? What could we sacrifice so we didn’t need a recovery day because we had such a darned good time on the real Christmas?

How willing are we to hand over Christmas management to the gents?

After decades of gleaning a set of Christmas management skills, how many of us are prepared to commit to a B-grade or event D-grade celebration in return for our sanity?

To create a Christmas role division that is fair, you need to define what both parties value and ditch the rest.

Then you divide and conquer the responsibilities fairly. And once tasks are delegated, you can’t then micromanage or express dissatisfaction if tasks are underperformed.

Christmas equality requires both parties to commit to either leaning in or out and graciously accepting the consequences of doing so for the greater good.

You can read more from Kate on www.sustainablelife.style/@sustainablelife.style.

Do you feel like you're the self-appointed Christmas manager? Let us know in the comments below.

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