OPINION: Us women run Christmas Day and we wouldn't have it any other way

Ruth Davies and her family getting ready for Christmas

Ruth Davies and her family getting ready for Christmas - Credit: Ruth Davies

I heard a festive joke:

“What are you giving your husband for Christmas Gloria?”

“Well Stella, I’m giving him the ability to do nothing but wake up Christmas morning with all the presents bought and wrapped while the is food cooked ready for him to eat before he takes charge of the remote control.”

It made me laugh because it feels so true. For me at least.

My husband crawled across the finish line, he says, with a bad cold (not Covid) thoroughly ready for his break.

The week before term end, when he was in the throws of that bad cold (in only a way a man could be) he had lots of warming baths (using five times the indicated amount of my expensive bath oils), enough Lemsip to sink a ship and a tremendous amount of moaning (he was all a shiver needing lots of sympathy).

He did still manage to muster the energy to make his weekly game of five-a-side, couldn’t let the boys down of course! And into the holidays he gallantly rode, the hero of the hour!

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This is, of course, going to be a little tongue in cheek, but still, he does rather turn up to Christmas rather than contribute to the creation.

He buys my presents and that’s where the gifting ends; he does put thought and effort into them now though.

He’s learned over the years that nut bowls (because I like to serve nuts when entertaining) and white Lycra dresses (I didn’t have any in my wardrobe so he thought I might need one) are not thought enough and, he’s got better so I shouldn’t moan however, let’s get on with the tongue in cheek!

Jonny buys and wraps one present then, with a stretch and a yawn it’s “Right, I’m ready” while I source, buy, wrap and post if necessary all the others.

I write the cards, invite people over, do the massive food shop, cook it… I stay up late on Christmas Eve making sure everything is where it should be then, I’m up at the crack Christmas morning wrestling a turkey (I don’t like turkey but he does) into the oven so that it’s nicely basted and leaving enough space for the rest of the dishes to be cooked.

I pre-make sausage rolls (the year I didn’t is remembered as if I broke Christmas).

There’s always enough gherkins and pickled onions (no one eats them for 11 and a half months of the year but at Christmas they become staples), pate, cheeses, crackers and nibbles. I’m the one that goes from supermarket, to supermarket searching for that last packet of chestnuts.

It’s me who remembers to assist those pesky elves with the Christmas Eve boxes. Hot chocolates, new pyjamas for everyone, Christmas bedding in everyone’s rooms… And, at the end of the day, it’s me loading the dishwasher while he sits and plays with the children – I know, someone has to do the donkey work, it’s just… it’s always me!

It's a bit like when we go on holiday, Jonny will take umbrage with this and say “What? I pack for holidays!” and it’s true. He does. For himself. He packs one bag with all his clothes and then it’s my job to ensure myself and four children have ours.

It’s also down to me to pack essentials like toothbrushes, towels and, oh we can but dream, sun cream. I remember arriving somewhere once and him asking where his towel was? I replied that he had packed for himself to be met with “Yes clothes, not towels, YOU pack those things. You have brought me a toothbrush haven’t you?” I had…

For Jonny (and lots of men if the responses to the joke rings true), family events like Christmas and holidays just happen. It’s mums who make it.

Unless forced Jonny would see it entirely as my domain without so much as a second thought. I don’t think he means to be thoughtless, intends to put his feet up while pixies and fairies and Disney woodland creatures put everything in place, he just doesn’t think about it at all. First his mum did it for him. And now me.

So, I said to him the other day, just for a laugh, “I’m not doing Yorkshires with Christmas lunch this year.”

The noise he eventually made was probably only audible to dogs. His face contorted with disbelief and disappointment. I could see him running through the questions and answers before they’d even left his mouth.

“But why?” his eyes asked, so I told him. “Too much hassle Jonny, they just take up space in the oven.”

He was listening. “But, but, but…” his mouth went. “I love them…” So I quickly got in there with :“I know you do but, there’s lots of other food, I’m sure we can do without that one element!” and he looked like he might cry. He started to speak and stopped a few times before eventually he stood up, he had an answer, he was processing it, working out how he’d go forth, “I” he declared, “I will make them”.

I had to raise an eyebrow. I’d be surprised if he even knows the ingredients let alone how to execute a perfect pud. He went on, “I am NOT having Christmas dinner without Yorkshire puddings, it would ruin Christmas!” (I guess the missing sausage rolls of ’16 would be blown out of the water!

“You’ll make them?” I asked… “Yes, if I HAVE to!” he said, lip tremble present. It was almost, ALMOST worth agreeing to. But I let him off the hook, “I’m only joking, as if I’d do Christmas lunch without the Yorkies!” Relief spread over his face and all was well in his world. He sat down, and, actually, I’d much rather it that way.

I definitely don’t want him butchering out a terrible batch of puddings to take the credit for Christmas Day, that’s my role!

Ruth Davies has a parenting blog at www.rocknrollerbaby.co.uk

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