My Big Fat Holiday Gathering

Graphic by Neloise Egipto '13

Sometimes movies remind us of our own life, and, when I watch “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” I am reminded of my grandmother.

In the movie the mother, Maria Portokolos, spends most of her time cleaning, cooking and waiting on others.

This is my grandma. Except she’s the Italian version.

The holiday season is my favorite time of year. My entire family gathers at my grandma’s house to celebrate.

On both Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s the same routine. The kids assemble in the play room, the women in the kitchen, and the men in the den. We stay in these groups until dinner.

The men sit on the couches and in the reclining chairs and do two things: watch football and sleep. Really though it’s more like sleeping while the football game is on in the background.

Meanwhile the women are busy at work. My mom, grandma, and aunts are busy preparing a five course meal.

This takes about three hours to do. Pasta fagioli, stuffed shrimp, fried shrimp, stuffed mushrooms, lasagna, mashed potatoes, string beans, steak pizziale, turkey, eggplant parmesan, the list goes on.

We’re Italian, we can eat.

And the entire time they are cooking, my dad, grandpa, and uncles are sleeping in the next room.

The thing about Italian women is that they never sit down during the meal. So at Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner, the women serve the rest of the family each course and then clean up after each course.

They spend about a minute or two actually eating because their first priority is to wait on the rest of the family.

So once again the women are on their feet doing all the work, and the men are sitting around being waited on. During the holidays, my grandma does everything. She cleans the entire house to get ready for the family, cooks a five course meal, and then cleans up afterwards.

The thing is, I don’t really have a problem with this. Yes, on the surface it seems awful that the women in my family have to do all this work while the men barely help at all. But honestly, it’s better that way.

The whole dynamic of the women and men and kids being separated makes the holiday better. Because when we finally sit down at the dinner table and we’re all together it makes the meal that more enjoyable.

My grandmother, my mother, and my aunts don’t spend hours slaving over a meal because they’re being subservient. It’s because they find genuine happiness in doing something nice for the rest of the family.

When I get a bit older, I know I’ll be joining the women in the kitchen. This doesn’t bother me.

Instead of getting caught up in the sexism in it, I accept that this is how my family operates. Actually, I more than accept it, I embrace it. And when I have a family of my own, I’ll celebrate holidays the same way.