Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and the doorbell wearing out because of the staggering number of Amazon deliveries. Yup, ’tis the season to be jolly and slog your guts out doing all the Christmas preparation, if you’re a mum. Because as I’ve clearly highlighted in the Dad versus Mum blogs so far, all things in parenting are not equal.
Dad’s Christmas preparations
1) Dad hears someone mention the c word and is aware of Christmas. Still, it’s miles away. No need to give it any thought yet.
2) December arrives and Dad reluctantly makes the trip to the garden centre to choose a tree. After much shrugging a tree is selected. Dad reclines on the sofa scrolling through Twitter as his offspring make festive memories, decorating the tree.
4) Dad nonchalantly pipes up on Christmas Eve; “oh did you get the kids/my mother/my brother a Christmas present?What are we doing tomorrow? When are we visiting my parents? Are we doing gifts for each other this year?”
5) The big day arrives and Dad is as surprised as the children as they unwrap their presents. However, despite his chronic lack of planning, he whips out a thoughtful present for Mum and insists that he will cook the Christmas dinner AND clear up.
Mum’s Christmas preparations
1) Mum’s brain starts whirring with gift ideas in early November. Lists are written and added to, festive trips are researched and booked. This is serious business.
2) By the end of November Mum is GAGGING to get the tree up. She even does the ceremonial ‘last dust of the lounge until January’ but Dad isn’t budging and refuses to get one until the twelfth month has begun. Dammit. Doesn’t he realise how crucial the tree is to dodging housework? Like, “Oh gosh that tree is just dropping needles – I only vacuumed yesterday” when it’s actually a good ten days since the carpets saw any action. Also, Christmas cards make EXCELLENT dust concealers, not to mention all the Christmas candles and trinkets lined up on the mantelpiece.
3) Mum cracks open her purse and prepares to unleash the plastic on the worldwide web. Okay, on Amazon. But still, after 11 months of frugality, it feels like a spending spree at Westfield, even if you are only buying sellotape and yet another Baby Annabell.
4) December brings the party season. Of course, Mum is showered with festive invitations because most of her friends are mums too. There’s the afternoon at the school’s winter fayre (always with a ‘y’), the school Christmas play, and not to mention the odd play-date when the Prosecco comes out at the same time as the fish fingers. Mum does get ONE proper night out, when she gets to wear a glittery top and puke in her handbag in the cab home, just to remind herself that actually, being in your jim-jams by 6.30pm isn’t really such a bad thing. Especially when the hangover/lie-in is scuppered by the first proper snow the kids have ever seen (totally worth it.)
5) The big day arrives; the children wake up in their matching pyjamas, gifts are unwrapped, special breakfasts are eaten, more gifts are unwrapped, and the fridge is heaving with food and booze; all testament to Mum’s awesome planning. To show his appreciation, Dad volunteers to cook the Christmas dinner, while Mum puts her feet up with a glass of Prosecco, and the children go bananas with their 80 new toys and books. As Dad peels the spuds and stuffs the bird, he pauses for a moment to reflect on how he’s got away with it for another year. He really is totally oblivious to the fact that Mum really loves every minute of the Christmas planning and actually, wouldn’t have it any other way. Cheers everyone! Merry Christmas.
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About Alison McGarragh-Murphy
Alison writes and edits stuff for The Motherload®, and is also a radio producer and broadcast journalist, a mum of two and a wife of one. Since becoming a mother she has (mostly) gladly swapped a busy social life of gigs, pubs, art galleries and museums for dancing in the kitchen, drinking on the sofa, finger painting and hanging out at the park. She talks incessantly about not having slept for five years.
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