Thanksgiving is a time for traditions. It has always been that way. No one does anything new at Thanksgiving and no one ever has. We just go through the same traditions.
So if no one has ever done anything new at Thanksgiving, how did the Thanksgiving traditions get started in the first place? They had to start somewhere.
I have heard of women who have tried to change Thanksgiving traditions. One decided to serve all her relatives delicious prime rib instead of turkey.
That was the last time the relatives gathered at her house for Thanksgiving.
Which, come to think of it, might be why she served prime rib in the first place.
When my sister and brother and I were young we had a family tradition that Thanksgiving dinner could not start until we recited a poem. For a long time I thought the Pilgrims had started this tradition but I finally grew up and realized it began with my mother.
I think it was last year that I realized that.
The poem goes: "I'm thankful for turkey and cranberry sauce, for pumpkin pie and pudding of course. But I'm thankful most on Thanksgiving Day, that I have a grandma who cooks this way."
It's a beautiful poem and just hearing it reminds me of days long past. It reminds me of people I loved who are gone. I can still seem at the Thanksgiving table as we recited: "that we have a grandma who cooks this way."
Of course, if Thanksgiving was at our house we had to change the cook to "mother" but the rest of the poem always remained the same and it always came before dinner.
Interestingly we never were told to recite a poem being thankful for our father and grandfather "who ate this way" on Thanksgiving, or for our father and grandfather "who watched football this way" on Thanksgiving.
As I boy I assumed Thanksgiving was a gender specific day of thanks. We were thankful for women. And nothing has changed since – as tradition requires.
Wife: "I'm going to need your help on Thanksgiving. We're having quite a few relatives over."
Me: "I'm going to busy on Thanksgiving with my family tradition. On Thanksgiving, the men in my family traditionally overeat and after dinner we traditionally fall asleep on the couch watching traditional football on TV."
Wife: "It's time for new traditions."
Me: "You can't have new traditions. That's like saying you want new antiques."
Wife: "Okay. You can keep your traditions of eating, football and napping. But I'm starting my own new tradition: Those who don't help don't eat."
I have to admit that was a tradition that caught my attention.
Let's face the facts, men. On Thanksgiving we are thankful for many things. We are thankful for our wonderful wives and families. We are thankful for all our blessings.
But in truth I am thankful most on Thanksgiving Day that I am not a woman who has to cook this way.
I know we live in the age of gender equality, equal rights and all of that. But, when it comes to preparing a massive dinner on Thanksgiving Day it almost all falls on women.
This is a good thing. If men were in charge of Thanksgiving dinner it would probably be pepperoni and onion pizza eaten out of the box in front of a TV at kickoff time.
Maybe that's unfair to men. In truth, we'd probably also serve bread sticks.
A holiday is a day off work. But Thanksgiving is not a holiday for women. Thanksgiving is a day they have to feed large numbers of people. And it isn't enough they have to make Thanksgiving dinner. They also have to prepare food for people to eat while they wait for Thanksgiving dinner.
Thanksgiving is the eating holiday.
Anyone who thinks the President of the United States has a high stress job has never cooked Thanksgiving dinner for 20 hungry, tradition-rigid relatives.
On Thanksgiving people come to the house for one reason. To eat. Oh, they also give thanks. But the thanking is going to be a lot less if the turkey is dry, there isn't enough stuffing and the rolls are burned.
It's hard to imagine who is under the most stress as Thanksgiving approaches: women or turkeys.
The most exciting moment of Thanksgiving does not occur in the football games. It does not occur when conservative Uncle Jim brings up Obamacare to liberal Aunt Jane. The most exciting moment comes when all at once the turkey, stuffing, bean casserole, rolls, and sweet potatoes need to come out of the ovens at the same time.
After more than 33 years of marriage I have learned this is not a good time to ask my wife where the TV remote is.
I have also learned not to ask her when she's going to start baking Christmas cookies until two days after Thanksgiving.
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