Saturday, December 21, 2013

a husband's guide to surviving the week before christmas

i don't care how organized you are. you could have your presents wrapped, everything purchased, the decorations up, the meals planned. you could be the master of the holiday season. still, there is something about the christmas season that makes mothers want to curl up in a fetal position at the end of each day, wrap their arms around their head and rock back and forth while muttering words like "santa clause," "elf," "cookies," and "presents" in a crazed repetition. this holiday season is like normal life on crack. it is full of everything that parents normally have to deal with combined with extra sugar, two weeks of vacation from school, and the pressure to create magical memories for our children. the process is exhausting and sometimes marriages get caught in the middle.

here is my survival guide for every husband out there. you men can not only survive the holiday season, you can come out of the month of december looking more rosy than santa clause himself. here is how.


1. don't work too hard. this tip applies only to work at your actual job. if there was ever a month just to sit back and try to coast through, december is that month. don't plan extra meetings or late nights. if possible, drum up a reputation for being a december slacker at the office. go in late, leave early. if they will keep paying you, that's pretty much good enough. if you can be home and helping with the christmas festivities, do it. take vacation days. save your energy and time for when you are at home.

2. practice the statement, "i am one lucky man." i don't care how many times you walk into your wife wearing some form of christmas pajamas and slippers. i don't care how many times she is too exhausted to cook dinner, or bathe...just say, "you are always so pretty. i am one lucky man." that's it. don't elaborate. don't suggest she shower or get dressed. just embrace it.

3. when you get home and your house looks like a small natural disaster has whipped through your kitchen, learn the phrase, "who wants pizza for dinner." use this phrase as many times as is necessary during the month of december.

4. be prepared to spend money eating out...a lot of money. making christmas magic is exhausting. adding the job of cooking dinner to that huge task is sometimes more than is humanly possible. plan on eating out. i may even suggest (which i am not a fan of...at all) charging it if necessary. if the budget for eating out runs out on december 20th, it might be time to charge a couple of meals to pay off in january. i'm sure dave ramsey is shaking his fists at the sky and screaming a loud, "nooooooo..." but it may just save your christmas. trust me, come january, your wife will be back to her normal self. she may even want to cook meals again after the numerous nights of pizza and take out. be the hero. plan on several meals out.

5. take over "the elf on the shelf." some women love the crazy elf. i think they might be certifiable.  i'm pretty much convinced the elf has been used in guantanimo as a torture device. just when prisoners think they are comfortable, *bam*...they have to come up with another clever elf idea. i'm thinking i'll be suffering from some sort of elf post traumatic stress disorder come january. just when i think i may be in for a restful night's sleep, my PTSD will kick in and i'll wake at 4:00 AM in a cold sweat, trying to remember if i moved the elf last night. this will continue until valentine's day when the symptoms will slowly taper off. this is one task that you can take off your wife's hands. search the internet. find some crazy places to put your elf. set your freaking alarm if necessary. be the man. if nothing else, if you put the elf in a lame place and your wife's friends come by, she can say, "oh, my husband does the elf." no more explanation needed. you can be her knight in shining armor.

6. pay for a house cleaner. this rule especially applies if your family in any way shape or form is coming for the holidays. i find it stressful enough just to get out of bed when my in-laws are visiting. i expect a long, exhausting visit. what i don't want to do is spend the week before the visit cleaning my house in preparation for the visit. that just makes for two bad weeks instead of one. do yourself a favor. pay for someone to come clean your house. make it a special christmas surprise for your wife. seriously, watch how happy she is. expect serious gratitude. if you absolutely cannot afford a cleaning service, spend an hour a day doing nothing but deep cleaning your house. an hour a day...every day for the month of december.

7. book your wife a massage for the week after christmas. i'm pretty sure this should be a christmas tradition for every mother. every massage therapist should be booked for december 26-30th. seriously. book it. put a certificate in her stocking. if you want some semblance of your wife back post holiday chaos, a massage is the fastest way to her recovery.

8. take the children away. i don't care if it's for an hour or for a whole day. for some time during the month of december, make the children disappear. while you are away at work, your wife is trying to control the beast that is kids in december. they are like crack addicts. they are pumped with sugar, adrenaline and unrealistic expectations. they are virtually impossible to control and, once school is out, your wife has them all day long. add to that the fact that she is somehow supposed to enjoy doing christmas baking and holiday crafts with them to build traditions and create lasting memories. frankly, i'm surprised i don't see more mothers just wandering aimlessly around their neighborhoods having finally cracked from the pressure of it all. take the children away for a while. heck, buy your wife a new pair of christmas pajamas and some bubble bath. she may not be dressed but maybe she'll have regained a small portion of her former sanity. take the kids to a place where they can run around in circles for hours. avoid giving them sugar. bring them home exhausted. you'll score more points than you can imagine.

9. purchase gifts carefully. gift giving is more important than men realize at christmas time. gift buying, wrapping, and preparing has pretty much consumed your spouse for days and days. she has worked to make meals and cookies and decorations to celebrate the holiday. she may get incredible joy from successfully pulling off the big day. she may gleam at the happiness she sees in her children's eyes. still, she really wants a medal. she basically prepared for and ran a marathon. it took weeks. she's exhausted. a horrible present is like a t-shirt that says, "i just worked my a** off for two months and all i got was this freaking t-shirt." she needs a medal. go ahead and ask your wife for ideas. every time she says, "i'd really like that," she isn't just diving into mindless chatter. she is giving you a gift idea. take notes. type it into your phone. do not forget it. do not purchase your wife a vacuum or dish towels for christmas. get her something she dreams about but hasn't been able to get. you may think a new hand vacuum for the stairs will make her really happy. it won't. it just won't. get her a medal.

10. all points expire at midnight. this is perhaps the greatest nugget i will give this holiday season. it will be helpful not only at christmas but the entire year through. there is indeed a point system for your work as a husband. gifts = points. working around the house = points. being an active parent = points. everything you do accumulates points. what you need to understand is this. all points expire at midnight. i don't care how wonderful you were yesterday. today is a new day. you will need to earn your points on a daily basis. that's just the way it is.

you can do this men. you may dream of being super heroes. here is your chance. i have faith in you, and faith that at the end of this season, we'll all remain standing.

merry christmas.