With the festive season well and truly upon us, there’s a Christmas tradition no one’s talking about.
You see, the practice is deeply embedded within Christmas history. There simply can be no Christmas without it. The routine is so visible, that it’s become invisible.
Alongside Santa Claus, reindeer, and oversized trees, are the real makers of Christmas.
Santa’s Little Helpers aren’t some mythical elves. They are just women doing the cooking, cleaning, buying, wrapping, organising, scheduling, driving, calling, delegating, emailing, pouring, washing, baking, and decorating.
There is no ‘magic’ involved.
And for as long as Christmas has been a landmark occasion in Western culture, so too has there existed a conspiracy of silence around the investment of unpaid domestic labour.
Hence why, in 2016, women don't really like Christmas. They might like the idea of it. The notion of the family coming together on one day of the year, perhaps. But the event/s itself is about as relaxing as running a marathon through a blizzard. Covered in tinsel. While having baubles thrown at you. By crying children.
Although it is not exclusively women who prepare and execute Christmas every year, it is fair to say that the workload overwhelmingly falls to women in a vast majority of families. The work itself is gendered and, as is the case with 'women's work', completely undervalued.
Listen to why women really hate Christmas on Mamamia Outloud.
For many, the entire season is just a cesspool of stress, littered with never ending to-do lists.
Women decide where Christmas will be held, and who will buy presents for who.
They make all the phone calls - mostly with other women. They discuss what everyone will eat, which they buy, cook, prepare, serve and clean up. They buy the gifts. They wrap them. They throw out the wrapping paper when everyone is done. Just in time to serve dessert.
Just last week I was speaking to a friend about how we weren't really looking forward to Christmas. She told me that it has become somewhat of a family tradition that every Christmas Day her mother leaves the house in tears, goes for a walk for an hour, and comes home.
I've always thought my own mother is a nightmare on Christmas Day. She's impatient and snappy. She's stressed. She's tired. And now as an adult, I completely understand why.
Blogger Glosswatch writes; "We seem to have internalised the belief that because housework is, to a certain extent, trivial and repetitive, the issue itself is too trivial and repetitive to concern us."
But it's not trivial. It's political. And it's inequitable.
"We want our feminism to be dramatic," Glosswatch argues. "And yet, do you know why we’re not always getting it? Do you know why many women aren’t the activists we’d like them to be? Because they’re at home cleaning up all the shit." And cleaning up all the shit they are.
The counter argument is of course that women are reluctant to give up the reigns. And I think there's an element of truth to that. But women don't take control of Christmas because they enjoy it. They take control because they're worried that if they don't - it simply won't happen.
And just because women (secretly) hate Christmas doesn't mean they don't care about it. They want their kids to enjoy it. They feel it's important.
But it's time to call it out for what it is: A season of unpaid labour disguised as "festivity".
Women hate Christmas because year after year, it becomes an act of service. "Tis the season to be jolly" for everyone except them.
So this Christmas, don't forget where the 'magic' comes from. And remember that the sheer amount of labour will be impossible to gauge, until women just stop doing it.
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You can listen to the full episode of Mamamia Out Loud, here.