Yes a woman can be Santa – just ask all the mothers out there, says Emily Writes.
A debate has erupted over the gender of Santa. “Can Santa be a woman?” ask many, many men who have never bought a Christmas present in their lives. Or if they have it was bought at a petrol station on their way home from work on December 24th because what woman doesn’t want some paua dolphin tourist earrings chucked inside a pie bag with a note that says “mum” on it?
These men think a man from the North Pole is racing around the world delivering presents – somehow oblivious to their wives, girlfriends, and mothers sweating and suffering for hours at night decorating, baking, and wrapping the presents they’ve painstakingly bought all year.
You know what all the women doing all the emotional labour at Christmas think about you insisting Santa is a man? Fucking nothing – they’re too busy searching TradeMe for the cheapest second-hand Paw Patrol set that looks new but isn’t new because a new one costs a week’s wages to think about why you’re spending so much energy talking about this when you could be PUTTING TOGETHER THE GOD DAMN BIKE Mum ordered online.
Mums are baking for the Christmas kindy sale, helping the kids make a gingerbread house, booking all the travel and accommodation for Christmas, packing for the day of driving knowing the kids will be miserable in the car (so don’t forget the iPad), making the spreadsheet that says who is going to bring the fucking beans for Christmas lunch while knowing everyone will bring beans and only one person will bring chicken.
They’re buying Christmas PJs for the kids and working on traditions.
They’re dealing with family micro-aggressions, like trying to explain travelling with a three-day-old baby is really hard, and also hosting 19 people with a three-day-old baby is really hard too. Trying to explain that nobody wants to drive six hours with six kids in the car. Trying to deal with relatives you haven’t seen in six years moaning about your kids being too excited at Christmas lunch. Dealing with tantrums and drunk uncles and your cousin who is almost certainly on drugs, and your aunty who is practicing the hypnosis she learned at a community class on your nephew.
Girlfriends are making sure there’s enough wine, but not too much wine, and there’s enough for vegans and did anybody bring a ham – OK, I’ll go to the shop at 9pm on Christmas Eve.
They are setting up the tree, fixing decorations, and maybe, if you’re lucky, your one job as a man will be to spend half an hour swearing at the Christmas lights and insisting they’ll eventually work before you leave them in the middle of the floor and say “You’ll have to buy some more I think”.
These are not my stories – these are the stories of mums that I start to be sent around this time of year. Mums who have so much pressure put on them at this time of year. Mums who are 41 weeks pregnant but are being asked by their husband if they can grab a Christmas present for their mother-in-law. Men who say “why don’t we do a Secret Santa this year to save you from having to get heaps of presents – you won’t be as stressed.” And then: “You can organise a Secret Santa, right?”
The mums are at the Christmas parade. The mums are organising photo calendars to fundraise for school, and so great aunt Ethel has a new picture of the kids. The mums are writing back to the kids from Santa. The mums are buying the advent calendars. The mums are hand-making Christmas cards to save money, making wrapping paper out of Children’s artwork, negotiating visitors – trying to find space for everyone, working out dietary requirements.
The mums are saying “Actually, we’re not travelling this year”, and getting an earful for that because that’s your job just do it mum.
The mums ARE Christmas.
They’re exhausted on Christmas Eve. And before the clock strikes midnight they’re sprinkling flour to make it look like Santa’s boot print in the snow. They’re taking a bite of the carrot on the bench and a sip of milk. Writing a thank you letter from Santa. Making sure the lights on the tree are sparkling as they place the final present underneath.
And they’re smiling now. It’s exhausting but they do it because who else will, but also because they just want everyone to have a good Christmas. They want everyone to know what Christmas is all about. They want happiness and peace and joy for everyone.
And probably, “Santa” will get thanks. The big guy will take the credit. And mum won’t complain.
But don’t forget your mum, your wife, your sister, your girlfriend, your nanna – they’re Santa.
So quit whining and if you’re so sure Santa is a dude get your list out and start checking it twice. You’ve got a shitload to do before December 25.
Emily Writes is the editor of The Spinoff Parents. Her books Rants in the Dark and Is it Bedtime Yet? are in stores now. Follow her on Facebook here.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.