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A Very Marie Kondo Christmas

A Very Marie Kondo Christmas

December is a good month to think about time – mostly because every mother I know feels like there isn’t nearly enough of it right now. Many women, myself included, have talked about how much time it takes to make the “magic of the season” happen. And yet, we’re still doing it. By and large our male spouses and child(ren)’s fathers are not. Many men feel that like have done their family duty by taking the kids out one afternoon so we mothers can sort and wrap presents we already purchased after listening closely to what our offspring most desires, figure out what Santa will bring and what “we” will give, hide the former and display the rest, and then pretend that we had a lovely, restful afternoon when the kids get back. Don’t get me started on the food, family, event planning, and more that goes on.

I have opted out of some of the “magic making.” I keep decorations fairly minimal, I don’t schedule twelve outings to see zoo lights or whatever other thing is going on, our elf has never done anything fun, and I have opted to just give cash for teacher gifts – a decision I’m fairly sure they are fine with. I’m still damn tired. Marie Kondo says if it doesn’t spark joy, we should chuck it. Can we chuck Christmas then – or at least what it has become? I hate being the Scrooge here, and of course thinking this way makes me feel really, really guilty, but I also know that fatigue doesn’t spark joy. So, what to do?

Option one: Move Christmas to January 25 – or some other date. I get why we can’t, but it would give everyone a breather after Thanksgiving, there’d be a better change of snow in many parts of the country, and January is a horrible month that needs some extra joy. It wouldn’t help a lot, but it would help some.

Option two: Quit Christmas. Again, not really an option. Yes, it could be done, but I thinking doing the present thing might be cheaper than the ensuing therapy bills if we just decided Santa and I were on strike. (Separately, I want some of Santa’s elves helping me, but I get the feeling that they won’t be any happier about doing dishes than my kids are.)

Option three: Scale back. Some families have managed to keep things low-key (e.g., one present you want, one you need, one book, and something you wear). Honestly, I think that might make my life even harder as decision fatigue would surely set in. (Seriously, how do you pick one book?!)  

Option four: Outsource. Those of us with more money tend to use money as a default “easy button.” By utilizing the robust gig economy filled with underpaid folks including women and mothers, wealthier moms order dinner in, hire cleaners, expedite shipping, get groceries delivered, and more. Mothers with less money, who are often single mothers, wind up selling their labor to make the lives of others easier. It doesn’t feel very Christmas-y.  

Option five: Get fathers and men involved. Unfortunately, this typically doesn’t release women from much cognitive labor since we are still the listmakers and the ones making sure everything is getting done. Also, this can cause more marital discord as men tend to question why it is important to remember that Santa wrapping paper should be only be used for presents from Santa, or needing so much reminding that it becomes easier to just do it ourselves. Again, there has been a LOT written on this, and I don’t see it changing in the next two weeks.

Option six: Pray for a Christmas miracle, though, in this case, I think I’ll be talking to Mary. There are so many women that need this miracle, though, that I’m not sure it’s realistic to expect help here.

Christmas is the season of hope, and essays like this are notorious for ending with an inspirational message, but honestly, that feels like one more stone to carry. All I can say is that if you are amongst the ones looking to be helpful, a lot of us moms can really use you right now.

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“Marie Kondo says if it doesn’t spark joy, we should chuck it. Can we chuck Christmas then – or at least what it has become?”