By Trudy Wischemann
“A woman’s place is in the home,” was an old saying trying to die as I was growing up. Where we lived, few women worked outside the home, for someone other than husband and family. Few women brought in a paycheck. Instead, they served on school and church committees or watched each other’s kids during the day. But come the end of the afternoon, where most women could be found was in the kitchen.
Serving neither husband nor family, I still find myself most at home in the kitchen. It’s a kind of command post, the central hub where the food half of home is directed. The rest of the house serves as “shelter,” but unless the kitchen is functioning well, I might as well be sheltered elsewhere. The whole sense of home dissolves when the kitchen is a wreck.
At Thanksgiving, when we focus on what comes out of the kitchen and winds up on the dining table, I find myself most distressed. I’m not a pro in the kitchen, or much of an eater, either. I prefer my food plain, not glamorized. I prefer to remember its source at Thanksgiving: the land and God.
That being said, a woman’s place is still central to most of our Thanksgiving celebrations, whether that be deciding whose table will bear the kitchen’s products, who will be invited to share our kitchens’ bounty, where the money will come from to buy the groceries, and when the whole production will start. After the feast, when the men and kids retire to the television set to nap off the heavy work of eating, the real hangover of Thanksgiving sets in: cleaning up the kitchen, putting away the food, distributing leftovers on take-out plates for the visitors, cutting the pies for round two.
In truth, my actual memories of those kind of Thanksgivings are good. My mother shined, even when the pie crust didn’t turn out perfectly or the turkey browned too soon. With family around her and other women sometimes joining her in the kitchen, her role as the family’s center was clear, and her ability to perform it well was evident. I think Thanksgiving seems painful to me simply because I have chosen a different role.
For those of you women who now perform a double role, bringing home some or all of the bacon and then having to cook it, I offer my profound admiration. It’s what needs to be done, and you do it. The world is still home as long as our kitchens are functioning. For those of you who have been joined by men in the kitchen, I am thankful: equality of the sexes actually begins in that small room, not the one with the bed in it.
For those of you – of us – who still suffer inequality of the sexes in the workplace, I offer my sympathy. The current flurry of news about celebrities addicted to that inequality is only a reflection of everyday reality for many of us. I think women who still punch the timeclock, regardless, deserve our admiration. But remember whoever is in your kitchen this holiday season, and give her (and/or him) thanks.
Trudy Wischemann is a picky eater who writes. You can send her your holiday food encouragements c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247 or visit www.trudysnotesfromhome.blogspot.com and leave a comment there.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.