There is in law something called the "prudent man rule." According to this common law principle a prudent man, under no compulsion to do otherwise, does what is -- prudent.
In most of the families with which I have been connected for what is now 66 Thanksgiving Days, the prudent man leaves Thanksgiving planning to women. Once upon a time, probably after the death of chivalry and before the rise of chauvinism, such planning was known as "women's work." Not by me, of course, but other, much older than me guys.
Thanksgiving Day holds for me some mixed memories.
Take the time my sister Diane and I got into a fight and pulled over the metal cabinet holding all of my mother's "regular" dishes. These were in the plans for the day's usage, having only a limited set of "company" dishes. With a whole bunch of relatives gathered for the day, we suddenly had no dishes to use ourselves. Runners were dispatched to the surrounding neighbors to scrounge enough to begin the meal. (Are you reading this, Pi?)
At different times and among different family dynamics we might all be asked to say some one thing for which we might be particularly thankful that day. As I recall, the first one to think of something was quoted frequently as we went around the table.
Once, and only once, our church had Thanksgiving morning service. They never tried that again.
One thing seems constant over the years: Women think there has to be something everyone likes.
Somebody may not like turkey (who, for heaven's sake?). Better have a ham on hand, just in case.
One of our grandsons is a vegetarian. Don't know what I think about that, but it can't hurt to have some veggies on hand. Do we really need one of every known kind?
As I write this Thanksgiving 2009 is a few days off. This means I have no idea what we will have, at who's house it will be, or what time of day (ideally at half-time, but that's another Blog). A prudent man, it has been noted, does leave all this to women. A prudent man has enough sense to just show up and eat what he is served.
The Thanksgiving remembered with greatest feeling of nostalgia occurred just after my 18th birthday. My father had lost his job about two years before and we had sold the home in which we'd lived since I was five. By then our family was down to just the four of us -- our parents, Diane (a.k.a. "Pi") and I. My parents rented a house and for reasons lost in the mist called memory we moved just before Thanksgiving. The electricity was on, but not the gas. Mother decided to order Pizza -- something very novel in 1961.
That day I was glad we didn't have to endure a "whole-family, every known relative in the house" Thanksgiving. We were happy to have a home, to be together, to be eating this newly discovered delicacy called Pizza. None of us knew it would be the last Thanksgiving when it would only be we four together as a family.
Not sure what the woman in my life has in mind this year, left to a mere man we'd have to order Pizza.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.