My husband and my sons (my daughter couldn’t get away to come home) teamed up to make Thanksgiving dinner this year. I wasn’t allowed to help. So I started the day with a benefit yoga class, where the teacher donated the fee to the Alameda County Food Bank. It was a clear day here, after the rain, after a week of poor air quality due to the fire in Butte County up north. We were all newly grateful for clean air. I came home to a kitchen buzzing with activity. They managed to get an ambitious menu of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, brussel sprouts and macaroni and cheese on the table, supplemented by marinated cauliflower from a friend and candied sweet potatoes from my nephew.
Not having to help was amazingly therapeutic for me. Growing up, Thanksgiving was the apotheosis of sexism in our house, before I knew what apotheosis or sexism meant. My father never stepped foot in the kitchen at any time but he was not a sports fan, either. When we combined forces with relatives, that’s when the truly toxic dynamic of all the guys, including male cousins and male nephews younger than me, watching the football game, eating snacks while the women slaved away in the kitchen held sway. And the guys didn’t do the dishes, either.
My husband started making the turkey in our house years ago when I was on call and has done it ever since. When my sisters are in town, they always contribute to the feast. One brother-in-law who doesn’t eat turkey created our mac and cheese tradition. Yet until this year, the anger I felt as a child and young woman always had a place at the table with me. It’s still not my favorite meal, or my favorite holiday but I’m hoping that I can retain the spirit of the gift my family gave me for the rest of my Thanksgivings.