While it's traditional that we give thanks to family and friends on Thanksgiving, we should be giving thanks to the hours of female labor that make the holiday possible. Women's work in the form of meal preparation and hospitality is taken for granted, yet Thanksgiving couldn't happen without it. Historians, consumer researchers and average women reflect on the holiday and the role of women at Thanksgiving.
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Though we're a diverse nation, most families follow a surprisingly similar ritual on Thanksgiving. Women can be found in the kitchen cooking, while men sit in front of the TV watching football. We can't blame the gender divide on some sort of Puritan tradition handed down over the centuries; after all, the first Thanksgiving is has gone down in legend as an event celebrating cross-cultural cooperation. So why does the modern-day celebration perpetuate an obvious division of male/female roles and responsibilities? Women may have advanced in the workplace, in politics and in nearly every sphere of influence, yet we're still slaving away over a hot oven while the guys kick back and relax. Why do women unquestioningly pick up the burdens of gender placed on us by this holiday? What makes us compliant in our acceptance of the fact that Thanksgiving is a day of non-stop hard work, especially for the woman hosting the meal who never sits down except to eat? What's behind this behavior, and will we ever shift the burden of work? Do we even want to?
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We all have memories of how hard our mothers, grandmothers, aunts and other female relatives worked to put Thanksgiving dinner on the table. But does it have to be that way in our own families now that we're adults? If we want to change the dynamics of this particular holiday tradition, shouldn't we start in our own homes? Readers share the details of how they divvy up the chores and what they do to celebrate Thanksgiving in their own homes.
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Of course you realize the song "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" was written by two men. Clearly they didn't have to worry about the many details of Thanksgiving -- the traditional kick-off of the holiday season -- and weren't burdened by the stress that builds each and every year. Women in particular face a unique catch-22 every Thanksgiving; they want to come together with family and friends and celebrate with food and hospitality, but it's up to them to make it happen flawlessly without any misfires. If you're feeling anxious about Thanksgiving (and who among us doesn't?) these ten tips may help you to reduce the workload and make for a happier holiday for everyone, especially you.
Adam Byrd of Men in Aprons
How apt that the man who cooks Thanksgiving is named Adam Byrd. A former blogger, avid cook, and the driving force behind the website "Men in Aprons," he shares his story of how his family handles the traditional meal and why his wife is the baker and he's the turkey wrangler. Adam Byrd also provides tips on how to get the men in your live involved in kitchen tasks.
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Every family has stories of Thanksgiving disasters that have been passed down through the generations. Growing up, I heard my grandmother tell the tale of the tubercular turkey that made it to the table one year. Although I've never been able to independently verify if such a thing was even possible, it makes for a terrific story. After I got married and started putting together Thanksgiving menus of my own, I too had tales of near-misses and mishaps to share.