Generally speaking, it's the women in American families who feel the most stress about creating "Christmas magic" this time of year, writes Brigid Schulte in the Washington Post. She cites a psychological survey, personal experience, and all kinds of anecdotal evidence to make the case that it's mom, not dad, who feels compelled to make sure all the yearly rituals and traditions—"family making," as one author puts it—are followed. What's more, women tend to bring this pressure on themselves, and Schulte thinks it's about time they stop.
Yes, women have made progress on equality issues, but they're still doing the lion's share of housework in the 21st century. If work at a job is their first shift, and housework and child care their second, then "holidays such as Christmas send that unequal division of labor into overdrive, creating a 'third shift,'" she writes. This year, she and her family had a talk in early December about what kind of holiday they'd have, and how they'd split up the duties. Short version: Less perfection, more enjoyment. "Feeling that I’m no longer the only one responsible for making Christmas magic—and that we can decide for ourselves what’s good enough—has freed up space in my head and my day," writes Schulte. Click for her full column. (Read more women stories.)