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What Christmas is Really Like For Husbands & Fathers

What Christmas is Really Like For Husbands & Fathers

Dec 27, 2023

This is for all the fathers and husbands who made it through another Christmas. The ones who stretched every dollar in their paychecks, hustled extra shifts, and pulled off holiday magic for their loved ones. You made it happen against all odds. You sacrificed sleep, tackled stress, and kept giving 110%, even when no one noticed. You're warriors and miracle workers. You deserve all the praise in the world.

This isn’t a knock on women, but let’s get real about the man's experience of the holidays.

Even if you love Christmas, that doesn't mean you enjoy it the same way as your kids or spouse. For them, it's all twinkling lights, presents, and anticipation. For you, it's yet another massive expense after a long year of pressure and providing. Don't get me wrong, you savor the family time and making memories. But you also grit your teeth through the endless, thankless work it takes to get there. The holidays mean something different when you're the one paying the bills.

Decorating day arrives, and you put on a festive front while lugging boxes and untangling lights. You might cave and pay for installation, knowing you don't have the hours in your overloaded schedule to do it yourself. More money spent, more stress internalized.

You scramble to finish your shopping, parsing gift lists against your bank balance. You have to swallow your pride and get creative with the financing, relying on credit cards or layaway programs to make it work. But you bear the burden without complaint.

Soon it's Christmas Eve and you're exhausted, but the magic is taking hold. Your house looks great, the stockings are stuffed to the brim, and your family is vibrating with that infectious holiday energy. You lock down one last side gig the next morning, determined to stuff a few last gifts under the tree and make it really special. You're running on fumes, but your family is worth it.

Christmas morning finally arrives in a flurry of wrapping paper and winter pajamas. Seeing the joy on your kids' faces fills your heart, even as it dampens your wallet. Watching your loved ones celebrate makes all those sleepless nights and thankless overtime worth it.

You soak in the precious family time, savoring meals and creating memories that will last lifetimes. For a few short days, holiday magic burns bright and the everyday pressures fade away. You lose yourself in the twinkling lights, familiar carols, cheerful gatherings with friends you won't see till next year.

The holiday glow can't and won't last forever. December 31st hits, and you breathe a guarded sigh of relief. You made it through another Christmas slog. The credit card bills loom, but at least the endless holiday hustle is done, buying you some rest before gearing up for the next go round.

So men, pat yourself on the back. You pulled off another miracle. But don't downplay your sacrifice. Providing all that holiday joy comes at a cost. No matter how willing the spirit, holiday madness extracts its tribute. Sure, you love that special family time and the chance to shower your loved ones with gifts and memories. But also remember: 'Tis the season for endless spending, nonstop working, mounting stress, and bone-deep exhaustion. You get no sympathy or days off; providing the perfect holiday requires giving your all.

My point is, embrace both sides of the holidays as a husband and dad. Don't feel guilty for dreading fiscal pressures and responsibilities. Be honest about how draining it is to whip up familial magic from thin air. You're entitled to the full spectrum of the season.

So men, moving forward, make a point to build in some self-care. Fight to carve out time for rest during the holiday hustle. Enlist backup, collaborate with your spouse, say no to some obligations. Protect your sanity amid the flurry. Speak up and set expectations about financial realities and your bandwidth. Have compassionate but candid talks with your family about what you can and can't provide. Team up on budgeting and logistics. Split responsibilities and delegate tasks. Give yourself permission to create sane, sustainable holidays based on available time and money.

The magic doesn't come from an inflated budget or from you doing everything solo. It flows from your presence, thoughtfulness, effort and whole-heartedness. Those things don't require going broke or burning yourself out. Holidays should celebrate abundance, not chase unrealistic ideals. So tailor them to your family's unique situation. Put in what you can, then set yourself free from cultural pressures and comparisons. Focus on togetherness, not the price tag. Your time and attention are the real gifts.

Finally, fellow fathers and husbands, don't be an island. The weight of holiday pressures can be crushing alone, but drastically lighter when shared. Talk to other dads, commiserate about the stress, exchange strategies and survival tips. Exchange services or coordinate to cover each other in a pinch. Pool resources to get gifts or give experiences. Vent to each other when it gets hard. Then help each other back up and do it again next year, because that's what commitment requires. Just like toughness, providing takes a team.

This season brought you face-to-face with your limits, but also showed your potential for greatness. Rest and recover now, warrior. You earned it. But soon it will be time to begin again. And when the next holiday comes, you'll be ready. Stronger for what you overcame, wiser for what you learned, bolstered by your allies.

The men who achieve the impossible are the ones who show up day after grueling day. Who silently shoulder burdens so their loved ones can thrive. Who delete the words "I can't" from their vocabulary and steadfastly live "I will." Who refuse to settle for less than magical when it comes to their families.

Sound familiar? It should. It's you. It's what you did, against all odds. Celebrate that victory now. You pulled off the impossible, and you'll do it again. That's what love and commitment require. I salute your sacrifice. Here's to lighter, brighter, saner holidays ahead. May the coming year shower you with rest, support and many well-deserved blessings.

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