With less than 48 hours to go before the big Thanksgiving meal hits the table in the majority of American homes, if you haven't already cleaned, shopped and started cooking, it's probably because you're not hosting the dinner this year.
I haven't begun to clean, shop or cook. That happens the minute after I push the "Publish" button on this post. And yes... that's because I'm not hosting Thanksgiving this year. My husband's sister's family is taking on that role.
As a self-proclaimed feminist who doesn't want to rock the boat at her in-laws' traditional gathering, I rarely bring up the Thanksgiving gender divide when it comes to work and play. And to be honest, my sister-in-law and her husband are model hosts; he's in the kitchen with her helping out every step of the way. When he's not, he's playing musical chairs in the dining room to make sure everybody fits around the table comfortably, and ensuring the snack tables set up in front of the TV in the family room are replenished when salami slices and cheese wedges run low. He is by no means a feminist, but he's something just as progressive; he's a caring husband devoted to his wife. What makes her happy makes him happy.
Do we all need to be feminists to shift the idea that Thanksgiving is "women's work" and pull men into the mix? Not necessarily, and Gary is an excellent example of a man who sees marriage as an equal partnership and shares the burden of Thanksgiving out of a sense of love rather than a need to rectify social injustices.
Over the years I've written a fair bit about women's roles at Thanksgiving, and it seemed time to compile it into one easy-to-read document with links to all those articles and blog posts. It's also a chance for me to get those feelings off my chest about the value of women's work so when I head to my sister-in-law's house on Thursday, I can pitch in without resentment or resistance. Like her husband, I help her because I love her.
We can fight long and hard to change the world by opposing those forces that unfairly put us in our place and expect us to do "women's work." But if we can't also temper that fight with a little bit of love liberally applied here and there, we'll have won the battle but lost the war.
I know when and where to pick my battles, and the Thanksgiving dinner table isn't the place to change hearts and minds. That starts in the kitchen -- the place where Gary and Connie taught me that important and heartfelt lesson.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!