For less mess and more fun, let men run Christmas!
Festive panic: A survey has revealed a third of men think women make far too much fuss about Christmas
A survey of 2,000 men by a food standards watchdog has found that a third of them think women make far too much fuss about Christmas.
Not only that, but these male paragons are convinced that if they were put in charge of festivities, the day would be less rushed, less stressful and less expensive.
My first reaction on reading this was to snort with derision. We all know that it’s women who make Christmas happen: without us, there’d be no cards, no presents and certainly no turkey with all the trimmings.
You can’t bump into another mother at this time of year without the conversation turning to how panicky you both feel — whether about the food, the tricky mother-in-law or your failure to track down the Lego set that sold out two months ago but which your eight-year-old desires above all other things.
Indeed, only the other evening a fellow mum confided to a group of us that her nightmarish day — which had involved public speaking, scary meetings and a desperate dash in rush-hour traffic to make the carol concert — had been achieved on two hours’ less sleep than usual, as she’d got up extra early in order to write all her Christmas cards.
It’s a measure of the collective madness that overtakes women at this time of year that rather than shake our heads sadly at our deranged lives, we instead seized on this revelation as an inspirational example of time management.
Of course, when I say ‘her’ Christmas cards I really mean ‘their’ — because she writes all the cards from her and her husband, even those to his colleagues and golf partners. Almost every woman I know does the same — and buys and wraps all the presents, too, as well as overseeing the social arrangements, the decorations and the cooking.
Ah yes, the cooking. There’s a wonderful scene in an episode of The Royle Family where the mother, Barbara (played by the brilliant Sue Johnston), asks the family if they enjoyed the Christmas lunch she’d slaved to produce.
Effort: Every year without fail, my husband asks me whether we couldn”t just buy it all ready-made instead (file picture)
One by one they all say they didn’t, really. To me, Sue Johnston’s crestfallen face speaks for women everywhere as we slump on the sofa late on Christmas afternoon, too tired to move let alone play a game of Cluedo, asking ourselves the age-old question: was it really worth it
Like so many other women, I view Christmas lunch as a near-military exercise, which involves making everything from scratch and getting increasingly hot and bothered before eventually demanding that everyone just GET OUT FROM UNDER MY FEET.
Every year without fail, my husband asks me plaintively whether we couldn’t just buy it all ready-made instead — or better still, have pizza delivered (no washing-up). And every year, I snap back in martyred tones that if it were left to men, Christmas wouldn’t happen at all.
It’s taken me 17 years, but I’ve finally come to the conclusion that, actually, that may not be true. Because the pressure on women to make Christmas perfect has become so intense that, somewhere between December 1 and 25, we tend to lose the plot completely — and our sense of humour with it.
I’m not sure what we’re trying to prove, either: Christmas is a family celebration, and why should those who love us most care two hoots whether the bread sauce came out of a packet
We mean it so well, but guilt and pride have skewed our priorities. The male approach is so much healthier: get the best possible result with the least possible effort, so leaving more time for the fun stuff.
Would it be such a bad thing if we gave fewer presents and bought the lunch ready-made
A male friend who wanted to prove a point to a relative who’s a food snob bought an oven-ready Christmas lunch for ten from Lidl. It was entirely stress-free to cook: they all went for a walk, came back, sat down and ate. Not only was the meal delicious, he reports — but it cost just 2.80 a head.
Would it really be the end of the world if, instead of trying to live up to some impossible ideal, women ditched the guilt and resolved to lighten up
If we gave fewer presents and bought the lunch ready-made, perhaps we could spend some time actually enjoying ourselves with our families instead of stomping around the kitchen for three hours, getting cross and sweaty.
Yes, ladies, it’s finally time to let the men take charge. Let them buy the presents, do the cards (or not) and cook the lunch (or take us to a local restaurant). All we have to do is eat, drink and be merry. I think. I hope.
After all, what’s the worst that can happen It can’t all go wrong without us — can it
Oh dear. I’m panicking already.
Mary, queen of coping, is an inspiration
Mary Archer”s 45-year marriage to Jeffrey has survived his near bankruptcy, a notorious libel trial centring around an allegation that he paid a prostitute 2,000, and his subsequent four-year imprisonment for committing perjury.
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Now she’s revealed how she coped, not just with her husband but also with her own recent bout of bladder cancer, which entailed her bladder being removed and replaced: ‘You come to these big decision points and they’re all the same in my view,’ she explains.
‘One says, “I can cope with this” and the other says, “I can’t face this”. And once you go with that [second] choice, it’s terribly hard to go down the “I can cope” route later, when there’s some other decision. So deciding to cope becomes a habit.’
The judge in the libel trial, Mr Justice Caulfield, famously described her as having elegance, fragrance and radiance, but those qualities are not what’s got her through.
She’s endured because of perseverance, doggedness and sheer bloody-mindedness — and she’s an example to us all.
An all-party group of MPs has called for children as young as five to be taught about credit card interest and mobile phone contracts. Good idea — but can we have lessons for adults first, please
Like his Iron Lady predecessor, David Cameron has proved he has the guts to stand up to Europe. But that’s not all they have in common.
Artist Lorna May Wadsworth, who painted Lady Thatcher in 2007, says ‘she was a wonderful sitter, the most disciplined I’ve ever known. She had massive self-control’.
Now we learn that David Cameron has similarly impressive willpower: he reportedly went for nine hours straight in Brussels without taking so much as a loo break.
Shopping down, not acting up
High Street chic: Kate in a lace Zara dress
Far from having an army of stylists, the Duchess of Cambridge regularly pops into Zara and Reiss without any hoopla to do her own shopping.
Meanwhile, Samantha Cameron went round Ikea on her own the other day to stock up on storage units and shelving, and Sarah Jessica Parker says that despite being a Hollywood star she goes to the grocery store on her own and regularly takes the New York subway.
There are umpteen famous (and not so famous) names who constantly complain about the nightmare of being recognised and who, rather than mingle with the common herd, demand that entire department stores be opened at midnight just for them.
It’s all nonsense, as Kate, Sam and SJP have proved. All you have to do in order not to be noticed is act like an ordinary human being.
It does mean, of course, that you’re much less likely to receive special treatment.
Perhaps that’s the real reason so few other celebrities follow their example
Revolution: Has 2011 been the year to prove being 40 no longer means being finished
At the age of 62, the supremely talented Meryl Streep is tipped for a record 17th Oscar nomination and is also on the cover of U.S. Vogue.
Meanwhile in Britain, the year has been notable for the triumphs of older women, from Maggie Smith’s magnificent performance in Downton to Anita Dobson and Lulu on Strictly Come Dancing.
Could it be that we’ll look back on 2011 as the year when, for women in the public eye, being 40 no longer meant being finished
She”s been accused of shoplifting and of taking hard drugs. Now Peaches Geldof, 22, is engaged (for the second time) to a young man (Thomas Cohen, pictured with Peaches) who looks extraordinarily like her father and is talking excitedly about settling down, complete with mortgage, embroidered doilies (which she collects) and vintage furniture. I really hope she pulls it off. Notoriety came all too easily to this wild child, but I’m afraid she’s going to find normality far harder to achieve.
Mary Portas, asked by David Cameron to conduct a review of the state of our town centres, says that shopkeepers have failed to move with the times.
I disagree. Landlords persist in putting up rents so that in the end, only large chains and charity shops (who claim tax relief) can afford them. So, what’s killing our High Streets is what’s also already killed the economy: greed.
Rather than blame the shopkeepers, wouldn’t she have been better to challenge the landlords to cut their rents by half for a year
Strictly mine: Could we see Gareth Malone on the dance floor next year
I went to watch the semi-finals of Strictly on Saturday. As the results show is filmed on the same night, I was just feet away from Gareth Malone as he conducted the Military Wives Choir singing Wherever You Are (which must surely beat the entirely forgettable X Factor winners Little Mix to the Christmas number one spot).
The audience shouts of ‘I love you Gareth!’ almost outnumbered those for the divine Harry Judd. Is it too much to hope that we might see Gareth take to the Strictly floor as a competitor next year