Thanksgiving traditions

Of all the holidays we celebrate or observe, I'm probably most "traditional" about Thanksgiving. I like the traditional foods, and I always have. Even though I skipped the turkey during my vegetarian years, I was happy eating plenty of everything else: the stuffing that baked outside of the bird, mashed potatoes, rolls, squash, cranberry salad, and mmmmmm....pie. This year I'm an omnivore again (pregnancy does that to me), and my family came to Madison for the holiday, so we went all out and did the whole traditional meal. I ordered a free-range turkey from a nearby farm and bought a bunch of locally-grown produce at the co-op for a good part of the side dishes. I'm not going to be all hoity-toity about everything we ate, though, seeing as the cranberry salad calls for two packages of jello and I used canned pumpkin for the pie.

There's an aspect of traditional Thanksgiving that troubles me: the notion that women spend the whole day cooking a huge, delicious feast and men sit on their butts and watch football. It just doesn't seem fair! And even though all the men in my family are much more helpful and considerate than that oversimplified stereotype would suggest, it would still be far too easy for me and my mom to spend hours and hours with all the food preparation and let them get away with washing all the dishes and calling it even.

Not this year, my friends. I took charge. I delegated. This was not just because I'm nearly eight months pregnant and don't like to be on my feet for extended periods of time, though that was certainly a factor. I decided that in the interest of egalitarianism and fairness, it's important for everyone to contribute to the meal, so I made assignments. For example, my dad was in charge of the mashed potatoes, and I don't mean I peeled and cooked and drained the potatoes and asked him to mash them; I mean I gave him a bag of potatoes and said, "You're in charge of the mashed potatoes. Let me know if you can't find something you need." My brother Joe and Stuart were on pie duty: pumpkin and pecan. I'm pretty sure Stuart's never made a pie in his life, but Joe certainly has, so I left them to it. My mom and I worked together on the cranberry salad last night, and then at 5:00 this morning, when neither of us could sleep (sigh), we made the stuffing, which involved us taking turns chopping the onion because it made us both profusely tearful, and me running out in the pre-dawn snow to pick parsley and thyme. Mom was in charge of the turkey, too. In fact, among the many things I'm thankful for today, one of them is that my mom knows how to roast a 15-lb turkey because I don't have a clue. I did the side vegetables (peas, baked squash). I set the table. Everyone helped wash dishes at some point today.

I like this distribution of Thanksgiving duties. No one was over-worked, everything was delicious, and the guys still got to watch football:

And little Daniel? He napped through the meal, but once he got up, we discovered that he really, really likes pumpkin pie:

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


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