Someone has to do the dishes and this is an opportunity at which you should leap.  First of all, your tackling clean-up lets a woman kick back and actually enjoy the meal she's prepared with everyone, without feeling the burden of clean-up looming over her shoulder.  Having gone to the effort to provide such a feast, shouldn't she be able to enjoy it in peace?  Second, it permits you to politely escape the postprandial conversation that, unlike most conversations of the holiday season, necessarily involves the "participation" of both sexes seated at the table, which in practice usually involves the women repeatedly interrupting each other while the men sit in silence wondering when they can escape the performance art and turn on the game.


This is a device I learned from that man among men, the Marine's Marine, my grandfather.  I used to marvel at his selfless generosity, and the way after every holiday meal, he would quietly excuse himself and disappear into the kitchen.  By the time everyone had left the table, the dishwasher would be running, the kitchen would be spotless, and everyone was happy and well-loaded with alcohol.  Including, of course, my grandfather.  When I asked him why he felt he needed to do the dishes, when at his age he deserved to take it easy, he laughed and pointed out that while he'd been happily cleaning up, watching the football game, and polishing off the rum, I'd been sitting there for 20 minutes, nursing my wine glass, staring into space, and listening to people ramble on about other people I couldn't identify if my life depended on it.

via Alpha Game: Holidays: postprandial labor.