Saturday, January 01, 2011

In Charge of Christmas

I'm writing this on the first day of 2011; it's nearly 2PM, I haven't yet achieved breakfast let alone dressed myself yet, and I have a stinking riotous cold that is waging full-on war against my straining sinuses, therefore proving that a New Year is a 'refreshed continuation' rather than a brand new start. Basically, you can't turn your back on what happened last year, because last year is the reason you are where you are this year.

Quasi-philosophical garble aside, I've been thinking about the Festive Season and the role of the family.

My last blog featured an article in which Charlotte Metcalf struggled with being the provider of Christmas for her brood. Ignoring the fact that she was also struggling with a monetary transition since her Christmases at Harrod's, the heart of the article was her despair at being unable to provide - whether or not that despair was needless I will leave up to you, the reader. Basically what I'm saying is that she is the provider of Christmas.

Have a think to yourself: Who is "in charge" of Christmas? Who knows where all the presents are? Who bought the wrapping paper, the gifts for the relatives that get overlooked, the cards? Who is cooking the dinner?

I'm aware this may not all be the same person. If it is a parent in a household of small children, then it may well be: in an average 2.4-children-nuclear-family scenario wherein the children are under 14 and both parents work full- or part-time, one can assume that more duties will go to one parent. Have a look at this - it's an advert for pharmacists and retail giant, Boots:

The tagline here is "When he's ill and you don't have time to be...[sic]" Now this advert winds up a lot of men that I know, and I can sort of understand why. But the reason this advert is made is down to the natural differences in man and woman. 'Rachel' and her blue-hatted friend have a lot to do: but why can't they take a leaf from their husbands' book, stay at home and dose up? Do Blue-Hat's kids really need to go swimming? Can Rachel not put her packing off for a bit and have a much-needed kip instead?

My recent visit to my family home proved this. My Dad had been left in charge of the home for a while, and the kitchen was clear - no food wrappers left lying about, no dirty plates, washing up all done and put away. I went over to the gas hobs, took the grating off and started to clean it. "You've got the woman's touch," said my Dad. "You take care of extra things your brother and I may not notice straight away." Sometimes, women get the feeling that if they don't do it nobody will - even if that statement isn't true. Quite often I'll go into the bathroom to wash my face and end up cleaning the sink, and my boyfriend will come in and say "Why are you doing that now?"

Guys buy the gifts and get the wrapping done and put the gifts under the Christmas tree. Girls buy the gifts and get the wrapping done and put the gifts under the tree, then they put out candles on the table. They make Christmas cake and blu-tack the cards to the window frame. Not that guys won't do this, but women will typically go and find extra activities. It unlocks a sense of achievement in us that you guys might find in completing a video game or a crossword puzzle. I'm not trying to generalise here, these are not cruel and jeering stereotypes, merely observations.

It might well be your mum who was in charge of Christmas when you were a child, and the mantle has now passed through some circumstance or another to your dad, your wife or girlfriend, or another family member like an auntie or an older sibling. Whoever it was this year, make sure you take care of them now Christmas is over. Make sure they know that their contribution is valued by you and the family, and let them know you are able to help if they want you to. And most importantly, enjoy the time you get to spend together.

Now I'm off to write the poems for the inside of Hallmark cards.

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