Sunday, October 23, 2011

Table Talk - Thankful for the Women Who Make the Holidays Happen

THE MENU:  Grilled marinated flat-iron steak, Walla-Walla onion bake, oven-roasted butternut squash, mixed greens, 7-grain bread, apple-cranberry Bavarian torte with caramel sauce.

THE QUESTION:  Who does all the work for Thanksgiving Dinner?

Yep, you guessed it... it's the women...from generation to generation, it's always been the women!

THE ANSWER:  "My mom, aunties and Grandma."  "All the aunties."  "All the women."

THE TOPIC:  Ever since we moved here we've spent Thanksgiving at my aunt's on the Oregon coast.  We take a large group husband and me and our four kids, my mom, all our weekend college students, and always a few extras.  There are usually a dozen of us.  We rent a condo for our group and then join my aunt and uncle, my cousins and their spouses and children, and their "few extras."  That's about 25...a truly traditional "extended-family gathering."  Like most families I know, our holiday goes something like this:  Women prepare food.  Women decorate.  Women bring everything to the table.  Men are interrupted from watching their football game on TV to bring in the extra chairs.  Everyone eats.  Women clear the table, put the food away and do the dishes.  Men take out the extra chairs then go back to watching football on TV.  Women put out dessert.  Everyone eats, the men eat their pie while watching football on TV.  Women do the dishes and talk about the men who are watching football on TV.  Well, after the first year of that we got smart and we organized everyone into partners.  Then we did 10-minute kitchen shifts where each partner team would take their turn washing dishes under the watchful eyes of the women.  That was a big help, but this year I won't have the luxury of working in a kitchenful of women.  We're staying home here in Newberg, so it's just me and my mom, who had double hand surgery and can't wring, squeeze, lift, carve, scoop, twist, or do any other grip-strength duties.  I do have two capable daughters, but I don't think it's fair for them to be stuck in the kitchen while their brothers and the other guys are sprawled on the floor or the couch watching football on TV.  So I thought I'd take advantage of the privilege and responsibility I have of influencing the young men who spend every weekend with us by creating a teachable moment with the goal of making them better husbands one I asked them, "What are your family's Thanksgiving traditions?"  Now these boys haven't thought past the principle that pumpkin pie comes after turkey, so their answers were quite vague at first, "Uh, we eat.  We hang out with the cousins.  Uh, eat some more.  Watch football."  Yeah, just as I had thought.  So I got them thinking beyond their stomachs to the entire event.  All the food they talked about eating?  Someone had to make it, and it took them days to do it.  The big table with all the decorations and pretty plates and napkins?  Someone had to set it up.  All those dishes?  Someone had to wash them, and it took hours to do it. I told them I loved to cook and I loved to decorate, and I didn't really even mind cleaning up if I wasn't left all alone to do it.  I wanted to enjoy the holiday too.  So now they were thinking...

THE VERDICT:  This is what they came up with:  The women would cook and decorate and the guys would bring in the extra chairs.  Everyone would eat.  Then we'd do the 10-minute shifts with a partner to clean up.  Then, instead of watching football on TV, the guys would join us and we'd play games that everyone could participate in and enjoy.  Then we'd dig into dessert.  THEN the guys would watch football on TV.  And the next morning we would sleep in and have brunch (tradition is monkey bread!), then pack up and head for the coast where we'd have a game of beach football, splash in the icy water, climb Sand Mountain and roast hot dogs over a fire, and when we got home THEN the guys could watch more football on TV.

Well, it sounds good to me!  I think Thanksgiving will be a great time for all...and I think I just may have made some future wives very happy!

1 comment:

    I would help with the decor, the cooking, AND the cleanup! I promise I would.