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Finding Harmony in Advent: Day 17–Mars, Venus, and Families at Christmas

December 17, 2013


Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. 1 Samuel 25:6 NRSV

Mars, Venus, and Families at Christmas

If men are from Mars and women from Venus, and if Christmas is the season when all expectations are heightened to experience the very best of everything like I wrote about here (great food, gifts, decorating, entertaining), then many of us are primed for Titanic disaster every December.

Men and women have different experiences and expectations of Christmas, don’t you think? Why is my husband not fretting if there aren’t ten kinds of cookies to offer visitors or take to share at a party, work, or church function? He’d just as soon have his old favorites, chocolate chip and peanut butter. He just doesn’t get the cookie decorating thing that the kids and I enjoy so much: a six-hour project to create confections that get snarfed down in two chomps. Those fancy cookies are too small anyway. So why would he be inclined to help make cookies if he doesn’t care about the fancy ones?

If I host a party at our house, he’s likely to decide it’s a good time to finally fix the leaky pipe under the kitchen sink and two hours before guests are to arrive there is dirty water, a soldering torch and pipe glue spread out over the kitchen floor. Just this week I had to verbally restrain him from installing a new light fixture over the sink.

He doesn’t understand why I go to all the fuss of pretty once-a-year decorations, fancy hor’dourves, and candles. Just give him his armchair, the remote, some party mix (now, if I didn’t make him that garlicky stuff every Christmas, I’d be out of a job) and a Dr. Pepper, and he’s happy. (So what’s not to love about a man with simple pleasures?)

But it is not just husbands and wives who sometimes tear their hair out about each other at holiday time. One year the family of a friend of my daughter sent us a nice holiday photo of their whole family. I told Michelle the picture was very lovely and that her friend looked very elegant in the picture.

Michelle told her friend this via instant messenger and this is the conversation that ensued, that she cut, paste, and sent me, just because she knew I’d enjoy it:

Friend: HaHaHa. I was soooo mad when they took that. I was so deathly sick.
Michelle: Aw….!
Friend: It was over thanksgiving and we were all SOOOOOOO cranky.
Michelle: Well you definitely look nice in it. 😛
Friend: LOL. Thanks.
Friend: Yeah, it was so funny because [sis] and I were SOOOOO cranky and my mother was yelling at us and was like “YOU WILL take this picture,” and then my brothers were all just being jerks
Michelle: You fake it so well though
Friend: It was hilarious
Michelle: When I saw the photo, MY first reaction was when did they do THAT?!
Friend: I NEVER have my hair up like that in pics but I was sick and hadn’t taken a shower and was REALLY cranky that they were taking the picture that day 😉
Michelle: I was trying to picture when they could have lassoed you guys to all stay in the same place and look at the same camera 😉
Friend: LOL. What’s worse is when they decide to do family portraits and we have to go to Target or Sears or Walmart and they’re all like “Act like you love each other! Why are you standing so far apart??”

I share this because I’m sure that nothing like this has ever happened at your house.

By the way, the hassle was truly not reflected in their picture.

Which brings me to this: what if we cut out just one of the activities or parties or “have to’s” or “extra gifts” this year? I’m not going Scrooge or Grinch—but wouldn’t we all be happier with ourselves, our spouses and our children if we cut back just an inch—and maybe save some time and money in the process?

I’m sure God never had all of the above in mind when deciding to give the world the gift of Jesus anyway.

What Christmas-related story can you share  of your Mars or Venus mate
(without getting into trouble with said mate)?


This story was first published in my regular syndicated weekly newspaper column, Another Way, see  (which can be used in any local paper; email me for details).


From → Faith, Family Life

  1. Caro - Claire Wiles permalink

    I am sure that you will find many people who relate to much of what you have shared in this note and I sure can remember earlier days when I did much of what you cited here! In the past years though when we would have our big family gatherings my hubby (who never has been a kitchen/cooking type person) was pretty good at helping me with the preparations and by then we also had things designated for others to bring for the menu.
    I had a real chuckle over the photos conversation
    For many years when we had our Thanksgiving family time I always wanted that extended family picture to include in my Christmas letter.
    I would tell them if they wanted to eat , they had to Humour the Momma as no food would be served until we got that out of the way! Most were pretty compliant but there were a couple that always moaned and groaned! I am so glad we did though as now the family is more extended with great grandchildren and new husbands for the the grandchildren and it is getting harder to all be together
    We try to focus more on true meaning of Christmas

  2. I love your “humour the momma” refrain. I think I’ll adopt that. It is interesting how later we are always glad for whatever photo there is, with whomever is in it. Even when not everyone is there, it is a record and keepsake of that day.

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