When I talk to seemingly happily married lady friends about their relationships (and hahaha, weren’t we all that way once?), it’s not affairs or sex or politics or addictions or anything even remotely salacious that is slowly eating away at their marriages. It’s the crushing to-do list of adulthood, which their partners don’t seem to have, nor are they able to acknowledge, that is taking a toll on their relationships. Invisible labor is the great boner killer for basically every bitch I know.
Sometimes it’s like, if I have to be the one to remember to pack sunscreen for Billy’s field trip to the petting zoo one more fucking time I swear I’m going to cut this goddamned man I married down in his sleep, am I right? (Ahem. Not that I ever thought that or anything).
Anyway, Thanksgiving is this week, so ‘tis the season for hating on mens as we ho-ho-ho (emphasis on ho) our way through that ever-glorious hallmark of modern womanhood that is Making Holiday Magic. As we fold napkins and wrap secret Santa gifts for random coworkers and buy tickets to the Christmas show and delight in building sticky little gingerbread houses with our sugared-up offspring, let us remember that our burden is not without purpose. We’re creating traditions, and holiday memories that our children will cherish for a lifetime. Wait, what was I saying? I lost my train of thought while bookmarking recipes for peppermint bark. And should I spend forty bucks on another Lego set for Billy that he will build in twenty minutes on Christmas morning and will then sit thereafter on the shelf above his dresser collecting dust for the next three years? Fuck it, I’m ordering it. What was I saying again?
Guys, I’m not going to lie. I resented the shit out of my husband for the past eight years because he never once gave even a single moment of thought to holiday magic.
Last year, literally days before he walked into a divorce lawyer’s office and ended our marriage, I ordered a croquembouche from a local bakery and sent him out on Christmas Eve to pick it up, silently hating him because WHY DO I HAVE TO ALWAYS BE THE ONE TO REALIZE WE NEED A FUCKING CROQUEMBOUCHE FOR CHRISTMAS EVE?
But really, why?
I’m on the other side of marriage now, so you would think that I’m at least relieved of the burden of resentment. But instead I am furious that I have spent the past eight years of my life carefully cultivating precious holiday traditions, only to have to suddenly split my time with my kids in half this season. I have been bringing my older son on this goofy little Polar Express train ride right before Christmas for the past five years. It’s silly, and it’s overpriced, and every year I am like why am I spending ninety dollars to wear pajamas and sing Jingle Bells on a crappy little train in the suburbs while we sip lukewarm hot chocolate and get vaguely creeped out by the guy playing Santa? But my kid loves it, and I bought the tickets ages ago when they went on sale, and now it turns out that night my kids are actually with my ex. A few days before that there is a caroling party that I have been going to every year since I was a teenager. Now I bring my kids, and I love that this party is a part of their holiday memories, too. Of course, that party too is on a night that my kids are with my ex.
I’m mad as hell. They will miss out on half of their holiday magic every year from now on, for what? So they can sit in my ex-husband’s apartment and watch Netflix? He’s sure as hell not replacing those activities with holiday magic of his own. Will the baby even know these things as traditions if he misses out on them year after year as the schedules fall?
My son asked me yesterday when we are going to get our tree this year. All I could think was, honey, I don’t even know how the hell I’m going to get the tree off the roof of the car and into the house. Who will hold it upright as I screw it into the Christmas tree stand?
And I’m not going to lie. The thought of Christmas Eve is breaking my heart. Despite the resentment, despite the disparity of holiday labor, every year there was such sweetness in putting the kids to bed and having a cocktail or two while we watched It’s A Wonderful Life under the glow of Christmas lights, waiting until just before bed to put the presents under the tree and nibble the cookies left out for Santa, just to show that he was there.
I guess that’s all on me now, too.
So here’s something exciting. For the first time ever, I’ll be publishing an extra newsletter this Sunday for the very kind and also possibly demented people who have signed up for a paid subscription to this thing. On Fridays everyone will continue to receive this regular old newsletter for free, but on Sundays the paid subscribers will also receive People Tell Me What To Do (A D-Train Solution). Sometimes nice people send me messages that are like you know what you should do? You should take yourself to a museum for a day and then buy yourself a very expensive glass of wine. Or you should talk to my friend Harry, he knows a lot about baking a croquembouche. Or whatever. You get it. People tell me what to do, and I’m doing it. It’s good.
If you would like to see the D-Train in your inbox on Sundays as well as Fridays, and support this little shit-eating newsletter, please consider becoming a paid subscriber. You know what to do.
If you are already a paid subscriber, thank you! I’ll see you on Sunday.
Here’s my all-time favorite Christmas song. You come to my house Christmas Eve, you get Dan Fogelberg on max volume, a giant glass of booze, and a mouthful of croquembouche.