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GUEST COLUMN

'Tis the season to take it like a man

Is Santa is the only man on the planet with a holiday to-do list? I could go on a nice long rant about how all us poor beleaguered women are once again solely responsible for manufacturing every spark of the holiday magic. All the while, men sit on the sofa throwing back hot toddies, blithely assuming that it's the season for making merry.

Believe me, I've done more than my fair share of holiday grumbling. But, after a few decades of tinsel mania, I've come to realize that the reason it's the season of stress for women isn't because men are slackers, it's because we women are hopeless over-achievers.

Men don't saddle themselves with non-stop to-dos because they don't put their manhood on the line for creating the perfect Christmas. Or Kwanzaa. Or Hanukkah. Or any other glittery, TV-inspired, sugarplum version of perfection.

Think about it. Can you imagine a group of guys hanging around the water cooler comparing notes on their holiday stress?

"I don't know, Herb, it just doesn't seem like Christmas unless I bake."

"Bill must really be slacking off. I hear he didn't even take his kids to see Santa."

"I wish I could lose 10 pounds before the company party. I hate to go to these things when I feel fat. I'll probably have to wear a body squeezer just to get back into my gray suit."

"Did you hear the new guy didn't bring a covered dish to the holiday potluck party?"

"Marv, I just loved your cards. Those matching sweaters were so cute. But honestly, where do you find the time?"

"Once again, I'm stuck buying the gift for my wife's mother. You'd think Suzie would care more since it's her own mom. But no, I spend hours shopping and then Suzie gets all the credit."

I've yet to meet a man who stays up all night addressing cards, or who stresses out about the right centerpieces, or who feels guilty because the neighbors brought a dish of divinity, but he didn't have a platter of sumptuous home-made goodies to give them in return.

Men don't stress because they really don't care. And frankly, I think it's time we women learned from their example.

It's time for us ladies to get real about what's really causing all this holiday stress. We're not over-burdened because the men are sitting back expecting us to create perfection.

We're over-burdened because we've set impossible standards for ourselves.

If we were honest, we'd admit that love and grace aren't our sole motivation. Sometimes we get so caught up in the holiday frenzy that we turn it into a competition to see who can cook, craft and create her way towards winning the big prize of "Best Woman on the Block".

But the holidays are not a test of your womanhood, or anyone else's.

So whadda ya say we all do ourselves a favor and quit the Christmas comparathon.

If your neighbor loves to bake and you don't, just gobble up her goodies with gratitude. Don't take it as a personal challenge to create your own.

If you hate the thought of dragging out all those decorations, leave them in the attic. Slap a red bow on your door, stick a few candles in your window or, better yet, give 10 or 100 bucks to the poor, and call it a day.

If shopping isn't your forte, the Wall-O-Gift-Cards at the grocery store is your 20-minute savior. Trust me, there's something for everybody - even his mother.

Ladies, it's your holiday too. Sit back, relax and take it like a man.

And may the spirit of grace, gratitude and generosity guide your actions.

Lisa Earle McLeod is a nationally syndicated columnist and the author of "Forget Perfect" and "Finding Grace When You Can't Even Find Clean Underwear." Contact her or join her interactive blog at www.ForgetPerfect.com.

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