Yippee ki yay, motherfuckers! It’s that magical time of year where we massacre some trees! And not just the ones in our living rooms that we festoon with lights, colorful glass, and pre-school paper-crafts. I’m talking about the 1.6 billion Christmas cards that Americans send annually.
Your Millennial friends—especially the ones with babies—check their address books once and check them twice to decide who is worthy of murdering a small forest with Minted or Shutterstock.
It’s tough picking the best pictures of their two children, ages 2 and 4, because to the parents, each cherubic photo is a precious gift to the universe. Jessica, the proud working mom, pours herself a generous glass of pinot grigio and types up a double-sided, four-page update on their family’s activities, including gems such as:
… Mason will play ‘townsperson’ and ‘third sheep’ in our church nativity play. He’s such a talented actor! His daddy predicts that he will attend USC’s theater program. Fight on for ‘ol SC, Mason, class of 2038!
… Arya picked up a green cube and placed it into the square-shaped hole. Our nanny says she has never seen such a brilliant child! We believe that our budding genius is on the path to becoming an engineer or a tech entrepreneur. Watch out world!
… “And me? I’m just happy with my pilates, açaí bowls, crafting, church volunteer activities, and gorgeous children. #Blessed!
After typing up the letter, Jessica wonders why she never sees her friends anymore, quietly resents her husband for gaining 50 lbs. since their wedding, and pours herself another glass of pinot to prepare for an epic Amazon gift-shopping sesh. Her husband is too busy “managing” his four Fantasy Football teams—it’s the playoffs, babe!—but he promises to take her to a fancy dinner if he wins all of his leagues.
Gen X parents are having an even tougher time with holiday missives. After a grueling day of work, the couple sits down with double martinis and wonders how to best cover their family’s 2019:
“Honey, should we include that Nick now goes by ‘Nichola?’ Will that freak out Grandpa Pete?”
“I wouldn’t risk it. We don’t want to be thrown out of our church or worse, out of our inheritance.”
“Shit, ok. And I couldn’t find a recent picture of Nick without a dress on so I used the one from two years ago. Dad won’t know the difference.”
“Gotcha. What about Em? I feel like we’ve barely talked since we dropped her off at Pepperdine. Except when she needs money, of course…” *labored parental sigh*
Of course, sending greeting cards isn’t the only way Americans peacock this time of year. There are also these jolly assholes: the Instagram influencers with bells on their bobtails.
For example, Kate Weiland’s photos incite equal parts envy and disgust. Not only is she gorgeous and fit (strike one), but she has three adorable children and a hot husband who happily play supporting cast in her social media photo flurries (strikes two through five).
She posts captions such as “Someone doesn’t want to GIFT it a rest! 🎁” and “Talk turkey to me 🍗” which makes me throw up in my mouth a little.
The Instagram content Krampus is always hungry, always feeding—and Kate fears drifting into irrelevance if she doesn’t keep him satisfied. I wonder how many hours per week her family poses and smiles when they’d rather be doing something else. And with 354,000 followers, have they already quit their jobs to live off sponsored posts for Old Navy and L.L. Bean? I want details on their cookie-cutter cuteness, dammit!
The reality is that a lot of Americans feel the need to flex this time of year, whether it’s through the mass-produced holiday letter or immaculate family photos. It’s stressful to project unending jollies, especially for mothers and wives who are typically tasked with buying gifts, sending cards, and maintaining the family social media presence—not to mention the holiday cooking and thank-you writing.
Why do men feign incompetence over innocuous tasks like writing letters or wrapping presents? My partner recently fixed our washing machine using only the manual but plays dead if I ask him to take the initiative in buying his mother a gift or fold some wrapping paper around a box.
I suppose holidays are tied up with the idea of “home”—that most stubborn of womanly spheres. And rather than admit that carrying the emotional labor of the holidays is suffocating, women (myself included) put on a brave face, snap some cute photos for Instagram, and slog on through.
Be extra kind to the ladies in your life this season. Slinging holiday jollies is much harder than managing an imaginary football team (or four).