This Holiday Season, I Propose Men Do All the Women’s Work

You know, just to get an idea of how much of the load we have been carrying

Shelly Fagan
5 min readDec 14, 2021


Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Back when I was married, Christmas meant a huge load of extra work, most of it stemming from my in-laws’ decades long tradition of cultivating insane expectations in their offspring. Ralphie not only got his beloved Daisy Red Ryder Carbine Action air rifle, but a sled, puppy, entire new wardrobe, and a PS5.

My job description was to carry that forward even though it was automatically assumed I would do a piss poor job.

My motto is that Christmas ain’t about the gifts, y’all.

I secretly dreaded the holidays and the following months of debt because planning, organizing and executing — plus paying for the insanity — fell to me.

December was physically, financially, and emotionally draining even without my in-laws.

I have to include the disclaimer that I did have help because I am supposed to frame any assistance I received as a testament to my good fortune. Any crumb was a blessing. “You act like you did it alone.” Critics like to ignore that it was bad by focusing on their observation that because you had some help it couldn’t have been all that bad. It’s an important distinction and a way to dismiss your complaints.

Clearly, holidays were MY responsibility to shoulder and I should have been grateful if anyone lent a hand.

I do have warm memories of time spent with my friends and my daughter, but I note that rarely anyone made sure that happened for me. No one else captained the ship so I could have a day off. I was there solely to put the fa-la-la in others’ festivities.

My husband contributed to the holiday celebrations by managing the lights because that was a task he thoroughly enjoyed. My job was everything else that wasn’t holiday illumination. When I was putting out the gifts at midnight, he joined in the festivities by providing the ambiance of the tinkling of ice from his scotch glass. When I got up at 5 am to start the turkey and breakfast of eggs benedict, he was considerate enough to stay in bed so he didn’t get in my way, graciously allowing me to be grouchy from my lack of sleep.



Shelly Fagan

Complicated subjects made accessible. Politics, Basic Income, Philosophy. I follow back.