It’s Thanksgiving morning 2017. Although sunrise is still half an hour away as I begin this, I have been up for a couple of hours. My banana walnut bread is done and looks as if it turned out well (I haven’t tasted it because I want the loaf intact so it looks nice!). I have a cheese sauce put together and ready to go over the broccoli casserole I plan to bake later, timing it so that the dish is still warm when the meal begins, and I just checked on the beans I have bubbling in a casserole in the oven.
I started on those beans two days ago by carefully going through the dried beans looking for stones before starting them on a long soak. I plan to turn them into Boston Baked Beans for a Friendsgiving event I will go to tomorrow.
The rest is for Turkey Day! I am taking food to a pot luck.
I have a few minutes.
Some years ago I saw a cartoon from, I think, the New Yorker. Three women in dresses and aprons were standing in a kitchen, and it looked as if every available bit of counter or kitchen-table space was covered in food, dishes, or cookware. In the cartoon you can see the men sitting around in the living room.
One of the women is saying, “We’re here in the kitchen and the guys are out there waiting for us to bring them food we spent days preparing, which they will eat in about ten minutes. Then we get to clean up for two hours while they watch football. Thanksgiving is so Republican!”
My earliest childhood memories of Thanksgiving aren’t much different from that cartoon, except that, while the kitchen was definitely no-man’s land, the men were talking about sports or politics out in the living room rather than watching television.
The setting was the home of my mother’s parents who were then both still alive. The women and any girls who were at least in elementary school were all doing something useful to help get the meal ready.
I wanted so much to be part of that, part of their female camaraderie and laughter and shared labor, but kept getting gently ejected whenever I entered feminine space.
At home, my mother let me help in the kitchen, and was starting to teach me to cook, but this was different. The only food or table preparation or clean up afterward that I ever saw a male contribute to my childhood Thanksgivings was to slice the turkey.
Outside, my male cousins were playing touch football, something I had zero interest in (to put it mildly) despite their efforts to get me involved. Not that I wanted to be, but I was certainly not going to be part of any adult male conversations, so that was another space where I didn’t fit. That left me in limbo, as usual, on our most gendered holiday.
My beans need attention. I am in limbo no longer!
That is what I am grateful for.