Far rose from the table. “Älskad, my dear, how about a game of cribbage,” he said, “the children can handle the dishes. Did I smell some glogg warming on the stove?”
“Indeed you did, Mr. Markusson,” his wife replied in a teasing tone. She stepped into the kitchen and returned with two stemmed glasses of mulled wine. Each glass held a dainty spoon for scooping out the raisins and thinly sliced almonds.
“Sonja, be sure to put the left-overs away quickly. Wrap up the turkey in parchment pap--“
“Astrid…” Far said, elongating the “a” in a gentle remonstration. She smiled and handed Nils the glogg then sat down at the small, round game table, pulling out its drawer to find cards and cribbage board.
Once all the dishes and platters were stacked on the counters, Sonja began chattering. “I love the color of sillsallad, but since we only have that at Christmas, my favorite Thanksgiving dish is the cranberry sauce.”
“You pick your favorite food by color? I guess beet salad and cranberry sauce are a pretty close match. Cranberry sauce is the easiest dish to make, though. I like food that’s a little more complex like stuffing. Mmm, it tastes salty with all that butter.”
While Sonja scooped food into storage containers and returned the pickles and herring to their original canning jars, Sören scraped leftover that no one wanted into the slop bucket for their solitary sow. He’d bring her the feast later. Water for washing heated on the stove.
“Cranberries go with everything even the pumpkin pie. I like the food to all work together. The stuffing takes too much chopping,” his sister remarked.
“I like to chop. I like to cook.”
“You sound like a girl, Sören.”
“Boys cook, too, ya know.”
“Not many, big brother. I don’t dare tell my friends that you help me in the kitchen. They’d all laugh.”
Pouring the heated water into the sink and adding soap, he admitted, “Yeah, I don’t mention it to my friends either to tell ya the truth.”
Calling into the other room, Sonja asked, “Mor, why don’t most boys help in the kitchen like Sören does?”
“I’m not sure. Don’t the brothers of your friends help with housework?”
“Not in Becky’s family. One time, I was there after supper and all the girls were doing dishes while the boys played marbles.”
“What did Becky say about it,” Sören asked.
“She started to say something, but her sister Betty interrupted here and said, ‘Boys don’t do women’s work, simple as that,’ I didn’t feel like asking for details. Becky gave me a funny look and shrugged her shoulders.” Sonja picked up the dish towel and began drying dishes as her brother washed and rinsed them.
“It was your far’s idea, Sonja, to have both children do housework,” Mor said, standing in the doorway, still holding a fan of cards. “He grew up in a family of four boys so everyone had to do his fair share including housework. His mor grew up in a family of all boys except her. She told me she hated doing all the housework as a child. When she and Farfar started their family, she insisted all children do all work around the home regardless if it was women’s work or men’s work.”
“Mormor was all for equality in work,” Far chimed in. “I was 19 years old when my mor could first vote. That was the year I first voted, too. Mind you, I had to finish military service before I could vote.” Nils sneaked behind Astrid and poured himself another glass of mulled wine.
“You were in the military, Far?”
“Yes, but I served during peacetime. We Swedes take pride in our neutrality, son.”
“Mormor Markusson didn’t vote for the first time until you voted for the first time,” Sonja said with a surprised voice. “What took her so long?”
“Women didn’t have the right to vote in Sweden until 1921. In the United States, it was a year earlier in 1920,” said Mor. “In fact, in probably most places in the world, women still don’t vote. Our husbands vote for us.”
“When I turn 18, I’m going to vote,” the young girl stated with certainty. Drying a platter with extra energy.
“I’m sure you will, daughter, I have little doubt. But will you vote for the right person? That, I’m not so sure of,” said Far as he drained his second glass of glogg.