I just got off the phone with my sister. She was almost in tears over the rushing and obligations she has in front of her the next couple of days in the name of holiday joy, which she was having difficulty conjuring. I believe she is looking at somewhere in 5-6 range of family Christmas parties--not to mention New Year's. My sister works full time, as does her husband. In addition to his job, he is also a high school basketball coach. They have two young children. To hear her voice on the phone made me want to cry. I could feel her pain. I have been there. I have done the to-the-minute holiday choreography. She has to make a dish and wrap presents for every party she is attending. When I talked to her, she had just returned from the grocery store. She had one hour to makes a dessert, shower, and get her family to tonight's party. Not only does she have to go to all these parties, but she must work extra hours to make up for the time she must take off to go to these events.
I have often decried the disporportional amount of work that most women do for the holidays. I know there are exceptions, but I distinctly remember a college sociology class that cited women's hidden taskload: the work she does for her family includes social networking, birthday cards, welcome wagons, showers. While all of this seems like fun and games with shades of Mall Barbie, it still requires time and energy to bring about the order that is so often taken for granted. This social networking is actually a support system that keeps families afloat and gives insurance against calamity. Imagine if mom breaks her leg and needs transportation for her kids or meals for her family. The kind of work that women instinctually do help develop networks that are crucial to family survival. Women are also the main link that carries the culture from one generation to the next, which gives families a sense of belonging and a context for their own relationships.
So for the women out there, I say that you need to pat yourselves on the back; give yourself a break. So the Christmas cards didn't get mailed out this year? So what? Will anybody notice if the buffet is missing the crab dip? Not with the spinach dip and the spiced pecans. I wish I had an extra hour to gift the women of the world this holiday. A nap. A bubble bath. The yoga corpse pose. A hug. Jan, if you are out there--this hug's for you. Love ya, sis.