Men who cook are men you keep
COUNCIL ON POSITIVE AGING, By Dolores Kivi
Did you know that on Thursday, Nov. 7, many men are taking over the kitchen as part of Men Make Dinner Day?
Sandy Sharkey, a former radio host from Ottawa, started the tradition 15 years ago. “She even put up a website for the day . . . and received Canadian trademark #1,115,706 on November 9, 2001 for the name and event.”
One of the points associated with its origin is that it is addressed only to the husbands/partners who do not usually cook on a regular basis. Now, the word regular is one that could be interpreted a number of ways. Does it mean only weekly, biweekly or perhaps monthly, on birthdays or holidays?
It was only this week that I first heard of the day. Its purpose is to suggest or mandate that men prepare the dinner that day, including table setting and cleanup afterwards.
I admit that I cannot claim to have been a known pathfinder. I never am among the first to know, never mind practice, the latest trends. I must confess that I probably compensated for that, however, when I promised to marry a certain young soldier after having spent fewer than 24 hours in his company.
More than three years had elapsed between our first and second meeting — the Atlantic Ocean separated us for most of that time. We spent, however, only about 22 hours together between our meetings on Christmas Day in 1941 to our engagement on Sept. 3, 1945.
Needless to say, as our own children grew into adolescence, we tried to ensure that information remained unknown to them.
Men Make Dinner Day’s web page lists 12 official rules. To me that seems a bit much particularly as I noticed at least five that I doubt I’ve ever followed. Of course I realize that they may have been created “tongue-in-cheek.”
In fact on second reading I realized that none were truly followed because my late husband and I didn’t have any rules for helping one another whether it was Alf helping me in our home or me helping him in his business.
Actually, I was a very fortunate wife — in many ways. One was that my husband was the eldest and the only son, but as fond of cooking as any of his three sisters. He used to recall that his mother taught him to make biscuits when he was only about nine years old.
Then, one summer before the Second World War, he got a job on a small boat on the Lake of the Woods where he was “chief (and only) cook and bottle washer.”
Despite the plain fare of the depression era we both knew the basics of cooking as well as how to follow a recipe when needed. Our rural service station made for many interruptions so we both did what we could when we could. This background served us well when I was a student nurse from 1960-63.
I noticed one of the rules for the Men Make Dinner Day is that the cook must do the dishes. I disagree with that. Having help with the dishes after cooking or having them done for one — even at intervals — helps cement a partnership. My husband usually did the dishes at Christmas for me (helped by a child as they grew older). A true gift of love.
Working together to ease the other’s load is another way of bonding in a marriage or as a family member. Even in the regimented military as well as in many civilian workplaces people help one another. Certainly in the hospitals in which I have nursed most nurses would help their colleague with the heaviest case load.
Co-operation in the workplace, the home or wherever, is one of the factors that not only lessens fatigue for many but strengthens the bonds of love, friendship or comradeship. It can be taught to toddlers and practiced into old age.
And, we don’t need a dozen rules to follow it whenever we can.
(The Council on Positive Aging column by Dolores Kivi appears every Saturday. Comments or suggestions can be e-mailed to email@example.com)