The Cliché of Frazzled Womenfolk

I’m taking some time during my lunch hour today to type to you, dear readers, and gain some perspective.

Christmas is fun. Christmas. Is. FUN.

Well, here’s my confession: Christmas (as in the season, not Christmas itself) is kicking my ass this year.

At work yesterday, I looked at my wall calendar (which features a dopey, happy Brittany spaniel frolicking toward something most likely bird-related) and counted days.

And panicked.

Work has picked up, and I have a gazillion projects to get well-positioned before Christmas break. Well, actually, just two (no exaggeration there), but they’re big and, as my mom would say, covered in hair.

I then looked at my frighteningly long domestic to-do list on my iPhone and panicked further. I had let myself think I was in excellent shape, having already bought/wrapped/shipped oodles and OODLES of gifts to Nevada and California. Christmas shopping is done. I had the Christmas cards printed and stacked on my craft table. All crafts for gifts? Completed. The annual Christmas letter? Written, proofread, printed. The menu for this year’s baked goodies for family and all of Chris’s analysts? Totally planned. Extra cleanings scheduled (before and after my family leaves)? All set. Invitations for Christmas parties? All RSVP’d.


Chris has been working incredibly long hours lately, all through the weekend and late into the evenings. Not only does this leave Mommy to do everything after working all day, but it makes her resent resent resent that corporation and the people who are being jerks and making his life difficult. And despite all his work, Chris is trying to help me with Charlotte and the household. My point is that by the time I get Charlotte fed and bathed and to bed; the car unloaded; dinner fixed, insulted (I’m not a great cook, so the best I can hope for is a “it’s not bad”), and eaten; dishes cleaned up; and three lunches made for the next day, it’s 9:00. I can’t even think about wrapping gifts or addressing cards. All I want to do is go to bed.

Then last night, after all-day downpours, we discovered three leaks in the ceiling of the office, where the bay window roof attaches to the house. Awesome. (Yes, we are past the 1-year warranty. Why do you ask?)

I then launched into a massive dishes clean-up and discovered that whatever Chris did to sautee the fish (he made dinner last night), it had coated the entire stove in what appeared to be an inch of thick, thick grease. (The cleaners had just come, by the way.) This peeved me. I mean, we have a splatter guard for a reason. Then, as I worked on dishes, I kept stepping on what felt like a dried pea or something on the floor mat, but I couldn’t find what it was. Inexplicably, this absolutely pissed me off. THEN I found Charlotte’s plastic princess placemat at the bottom of the sink of dishes, about a thousand times dirtier than it would have been if a certain husband had just wiped it down after the kid ate, and I snapped.

Freaking snapped.

Lots of unlovely words spilled out of my mouth, and nobody was safe—nobody. (Though Chris’s charming employer got the brunt of it).

Anyway. At the end, we decided to skip a potluck on Sunday, as the idea of making yet another dish to bring to something, getting another pointless gift for another pointless gift exchange (we live 45 minutes from Target, y’all—little things like realizing you need a generic gift sends organization and planning into a tailspin), and coordinating Charlotte’s naps and bedtime to accommodate it all just seemed like something we could skip this year. Seeing Sunday afternoon, plus all the prep (dish, gift), free up all of a sudden helped my mood.

And, well, Chris yelling, “Just. Go. To. Bed!” and finishing the last half of the dishes also helped.

Christmas is supposed to be fun and happy and magical, which I actually think is contributing to my anxiety. I felt myself getting overwhelmed, because I love Christmas and want everything to be just perfect, especially with us hosting for the first time in the new house. I don’t want to miss any of Charlotte’s second Christmas. I find myself resenting my job, as this time of year, I’d really rather be stringing cranberries in front of the fire with my kid than working. (There, I said it.) And by the time I get home, I’m so pooped, I don’t want to “do” Christmas. I just want to be lazy in front of the tree. (Which I love.)


At any rate, frazzled womenfolk during the Christmas season are practically a cliché—I’m certainly not in a terribly unique position here. It's just that when you have to do everything in 8-minute increments, realizing you forgot to buy the candy canes that you need for 14 different things becomes a large—laughably dumb, but large—problem.

I know, I know. I need to lower expectations. But every year, when I tell Chris, “Honey, I just can’t do the giant baked goods extravaganza for your employees again—can’t we get them gift cards?” I’m told that’s it’s tradition. And that (heh) he’ll help. When I beg to just give Charlotte’s teachers cash instead of going to Harris Teeter to hunt down Amex gift cards (with three $7 activation fees!), I’m told it’s “tacky.” (Really? Who has ever opened an envelope and said, “Oh, no. CASH. Blech.”)

Honestly, though. Let’s get some perspective. Hofmann Family Christmas is in good shape. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m no longer AHEAD of schedule but rather ON SCHEDULE that is worrying me I’ll get BEHIND schedule.

And you know working moms. We live and die by our schedules.

But here’s one thing: God bless Charlotte’s Hanukkah party at school (our name for the winter party—huge Jewish contingent in the, um, rather wealthy area where her school is, and the school is decorated with dreidels and menorahs—and one tiny holiday-neutral snowman. Let’s be honest. It’s a Hanukkah party. And my, those blue and silver decorations are pretty!). At her school, all things for the Hanukkah party must be store-bought.

Sure, I had to rework my work schedule to make sure I can get there next week. But you know what? All I have to bring are juice boxes.

(Note. Was just informed by Chris that he has to pick up the SUV at the shop tonight, which is by Trader Joe’s. That means he can buy all the weirdo baking ingredients I need AND get candy canes AND handle the car pick-up AND (wait for it . . . ) PICK UP DINNER! All I have to do is get Charlotte. Yipee! Those envelopes might get addressed tonight after all.)


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