“You all think Christmas just happens? You think all this goodwill just falls from the freakin’ sky? Well, it doesn’t! It falls out of my holly jolly butt! So, you can cook your own damn turkey, wrap your own damn presents! And while you’re at it, you can all ride a one-horse open sleigh to hell!” –Lois Griffin, Family Guy
For about a decade now, I’ve counted myself among the growing number of straight, married women who loved the holiday season* as a child but rather despise it as adults. The rumors are true: the underbelly of the grinding gears that keep The Holidays afloat is run almost entirely by women**. And we’re fucking sick of it.
As more and more women begin speaking up about this disproportionate amount of work seemingly required of us every year beginning in mid-October, the leading advice, from marriage counselors to feminist writers to reddit commenters is: just don’t do the work. Tell your husband/boyfriend that you’re not doing [insert holiday-themed chore] anymore because it’s his turn and if he doesn’t do it then it won’t get done and the egg will be on his face.
This sounds nice on paper, it really does. But it doesn’t work in the real world. The real world is one designed by and desperately clung to by white male patriarchy, and far too many people, even self-avowed feminists, still buy what it’s selling (whether they realize it or not). If a holiday-related task doesn’t get done, if the in-laws arrive and the presents aren’t wrapped or the turkey isn’t brining or the guest towels haven’t been laundered, no one will ever shame the man for that misstep. It’s just automatic to assume that SHE missed the boat, SHE let that fall through the cracks, SHE wasn’t on her game. Even if the male partner promised to take on that particular duty and it is no one’s failure but his, he won’t be blamed. It’s just assumed that it was HER job. Women know this. Worse, men know this too.
So if we say it’s time to end this shit and we tell our husbands or boyfriends to step up and do his part, and even if he agrees and it seems like we’re all on the same page, what simmers just under the surface is the knowledge that if he slacks off or drops the ball, he won’t look bad because no one ever assumed that it was his responsibility in the first place. If he utterly fails, no matter how spectacularly, the egg is still smashed into, goopily dripping off of, and caking onto our female faces.
And y’all really can’t figure out why women are so angry?
*I’m defining the holiday season, or The Holidays, as Halloween through New Year’s Day.
**I made a deliberate decision to pair this recipe with this essay. The backstory of this festive appetizer is that it’s apparently an Irish condiment created by a man who named it as such because he presumed the strong flavors of the garlic and anchovies would be “too much” for a woman’s delicate taste buds. I think I speak for all of us when I say: fuck that guy. And the horse he rode in on. Which is just a whole mood once a year for so many.
Gentleman's Relish on Toast
- 1 baguette
- 8 tbs unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 anchovy, finely chopped
- 2 tsp finely chopped shallot (about half of a medium-sized shallot)
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Healthy pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp or so minced fresh parsley
- 1 tsp or so minced chives
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat your oven to 375 F.
- Cut the baguette across on the diagonal into ¼-inch slices. Brush both sides generously with olive oil. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, until golden and crispy but still tender in the center. Let cool completely. Don’t cheat this step.
- Combine the butter with the anchovy, shallot, lemon zest, cayenne, parsley, and chives in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I use a lot of pepper but remember the anchovy is in there so you don’t need much salt.
- Transfer the compound butter to a pretty ramekin. Lay out the toasts on a platter. You don’t have to do this, but I like to smooth the top of the butter and then grind some more black pepper on top of the butter before serving, just to drive the point home.
- To serve, spread a nice layer of butter onto each toast and eat.
If you’re wondering about the name, you can read the second footnote of the piece for a short backstory and yes, it’s misogynist as hell. I love that a leading, successful woman chef set out to reclaim this dish. For feminazis everywhere! Serve this at your next holiday party and we’ll smash the patriarchy one appetizer at a time!