Hey feminists, stop jingling the Christmas gender bells
Here's a modern Christmas story for you.
Mary and Joseph arrive at the inn and find there's no room because Joseph is so hopeless he could not organise a chook raffle. So the baby Jesus will be born in a manger.
Then Mary has to tolerate three gift-toting Wise Men and show them hospitality.
Sure it's Jesus's birthday but all his mother wants is some Me Time on a beach in Fiji instead of serving platters and cold beer.
Yes, this is a ludicrous scenario, yet it is illustrative an emerging narrative seeping into our festive season.
Christmas, we are now being told, is not about love and excitement and family coming together.
No, instead is just a great big chore of emotional and physical labour for women.
It's us women on our feet all day wiping, cooking, cleaning, stressing, feeding, washing and generally having an exhausting and insanely expensive "holiday".
Everyone else - that means men - gets to relax and have fun by getting totally drunk on the festive spirit (and spirits).
Take a recent rant on the Mamamia website, which informs that this year Christmas is "on the brink of cancellation" thanks to a long list of high crimes and misdemeanours.
Carols and tunes are sexual threats dressed up as light frothy music.
Decorations are now more "subtle" because religion is on the nose these days, gaudy lights only serve to remind us of our slavish devotion to fossil fuels and "fake Christmas trees, ultimately made from plastic, now elicit an awkward twinge in the belly". Or so the author claims.
Oddly, the piece suggests cutting down on consumption for the sake of the planet but flying to Fiji for the week to get away from it all: "It would appear more women are hanging up their aprons and yelling, "I THOUGHT THIS WAS MEANT TO BE A HOLIDAY". They're going to Fiji for a week."
Emitting 1.88 tonnes of CO2 by flying overseas return instead of staying at home with family - not exactly peace and good will to mother Earth, is it?
The ham and turkey feast also gets criticised because surely we cannot be looking forward to feasting with loved ones any more, apparently.
"The Christmas spread has also become a riddle that's impossible to solve, with guests who are gluten-free and lactose intolerant and vegetarian and vegan and pescetarian and on a FODMAP diet or a KETO diet or they have deadly allergies to peanuts or shellfish or eggs. Food has never been so complicated."
I'm tired just reading that.
In this mindset, relationships are categorised as "work", advice is needed on "how to avoid triggering conversations" over the prawns and plenty of enthusiasm for cancel culture - bailing on your family and tradition because you simply cannot be bothered and of course it's all about you.
It's the sacred obligation of family turned as cold and clinical as a prostate check.
Us women, the new feminist Scrooges say, are "sick of going to all that trouble" for Christmas when we have allowed ourselves to be psychologically manipulated all our lives.
It's "hard work" enduring a non-PC uncle or a hopeful grandma inquiring on repeat whether you are getting married or having babies any time soon i.e. while she is still alive to witness it.
This used to be called maturing and socialising, learning to navigate different personalities so you became the sort of diplomatic and kind person other folk wanted to spend time with.
And again - what it is with smashing up tradition for the sake of it at Christmas time?
A few weeks back TV host Yumi Stynes wrote on an ABC website that women should go on strike: "It's pretty simple and it goes like this: We quit being the Christmas elves. Christmas still happens. But the elves strike. Our silent and mostly invisible toil ceases. Christmas, for once, doesn't happen on our labour."
Yumi continued: "Oh, to be a man who sits! Can you imagine it? A drink in hand, chatting, a kid runs over. He pats them, exchanges a kind word. He stands up, grabs a plate, and piles delicious treats upon it. Sits down, eats it.
"I have never been that man. Even from a young age, women - girls - are socialised to do the work of Christmas like dogged little elves."
Sure the prep and cooking is huge but isn't the community and absolute pleasure seeing your family and guests enjoy themselves just the best thing ever?
My dad liked to hold court at the Christmas table. He would talk a lot and tell the same stories - a lot and some of them would definitely melt a snowflake.
One of his traditions - and there were many - was planting the same silver coins into the annual "plum pudding" and the challenge was to fish them out of your spoonful before you choked on them so Dad could wash and recycle them for next year.
Then it was time the 3.15pm snooze on the couch with Perry Como on stereo repeat while outside it was boiling hot.
This year I will have lunch with Dad and my family but my father won't be chatting so much. He has never really recovered from a stroke so the mind and body are not so willing now.
All that tradition, the times those critics would no doubt say "we endured", are now gone.
We must absolutely must preserve our family foibles and repeats, not matter how insignificant they might seem, for as long as we can. Don't make the festive season a gender battleground
And remember: Christmas is not emotional labour. It's love.