Christmas would be a disaster if men were in charge of it
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Rachel Moore says Christmas only exists because of women. And thank heavens because it would be a disaster if men were in charge
My favourite Christmas card this year is the one I sent to my best friend.
A woman lies flat on her back under the sitting room Christmas tree among the presents with the words:
She lay under the tree to remind her family that she too was a gift.
Inside, I wrote: "But how long would we have to lie there for anyone to notice?"
The next meal time, probably.
I like to remind people of the handy nature fact that Rudolf is female, along with all Santa's other reindeer because males lose their antlers in the winter so the beasts on all those Christmas card pictures pulling the sleigh are, without doubt, females.
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Hardly a surprise, really. The sleigh was probably loaded by Mrs Claus, leaving Santa to do the star turn delivering the gifts.
Much like how most men stand at the head of the table on Christmas Day carving the perfectly bronzed turkey, as the woman (stereotypical I know, but sadly mostly correct), slumps, splattered with fat, hair in a frizz with no appetite for the delicious meal she has slaved away making and yearning for a long nap.
Today, five days before the Big Day, is about the time that women's festive stress and exhaustion hits the jackpot. Not that anyone would notices, because snippy snappy mummy is not a good look, so, fixed smile and true female grit keeps her troshing on.
The shoulders under that obligatory sparkly jumper are broad, but taking the full weight of conjouring, sprinkling, and clearing up, all the Christmas magic has taken its toll.
School's out today after a manic month of burning the midnight oil crafting school play outfits, baking cakes for the school Festive Fayre made, wrapping teachers' presents (why has this ever become a thing), running children around to parties, writing cards, planning, buying and wrapping gifts, starts to take its toll, with the busiest time yet to come.
On top of that, we're taking on climate change to make it as green and plastic-free. Something else to think about.
And all at the same time as holding down a job and keeping a house running.
We all know the saintly men who do their share. They do exist - it shouldn't be an issue, but, along with the tinsel and nativity scene, the tradition is that women do it all "because they are so good at it" and 'know how to do it."
Plus, I despair what would happen if most men I know were in charge. Those who believe a week's shopping for a family can fit in a carrier bag and cost less than £20. You know who you are.
Apparently, 85pc of women reported being solely responsible for festive tasks.
Three quarters of women do all the wrapping and 65pc write all the cards. One in three women devotes the equivalent to a week to Christmas preparations with one in three men finishing their Christmas duties in less than half a day.
Mother Martryrs do it because pleasing others and meeting their expectations is in our DNA.
Christmas only happens if we put in the effort.
We have a good complain about it to other mums, but just get on with it.
Even when our children are grown up, old habits die hard and - cruelly happening about the time the menopause hits and we look back wistfully at those days with small children - we still view our Christmas production as needing to be the full-on splendour it was when they were small.
My partner - no children, never married and an only child - cannot understand why I make such a festive effort for my sons (aged 23 and 20), filling the cupboards with the festive food they have grown up with, wanting to give them surprises.
"But, if you're run ragged doing it, why bother?"
There speaks a man who has never had children. It's the mum thing. It's all about bother.
Christmas Eve will be the first time my sons would have been together since August because son number 2 has been abroad. It's worth every bit of effort.
I admit, though, hearing them stumbling over their filled stockings when they pile in from the pub in the early hours of Christmas morning, waking me up with the commotion, makes hanging on to traditions a bit daft, but it's all part of the evolving family story.
The next stage of years waking me up at 4am squealing "he's been."
The Christmas frazzle is all about our programme to meet expectations. It's what we excel at - yet we have no expectations of anyone else.
I want my children to be home, raiding the fridge, sprawled across the sofas with the dog, appreciating the familiarity of the decorations dragged out every year, demands for Delia's sausage rolls, made every year, and just being home.
This is the first of a new chapter of Christmases for us. Son Number One has his first job and a London life. I can't wait for them to come crashing back into the house with their stuff, trainers and coats causing their customary untidiness.
It really is the most wonderful time of the year, mainly because us women make it so. Be proud - and, whatever you do, have a very happy Christmas.