Confessions of a Thanksgiving alpha
November 15th, 2011
10:30 AM ET
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Thanksgiving is an annual pause to give thanks - thanks that you aren’t related to "Marney."

The now infamous missive penned by her, simply titled “The Thanksgiving Letter,” first appeared on the popular blog "Awkward Family Photos" in 2009.

In the letter, Marney writes out detailed instructions about the upcoming feast to her family such as:

“If I ask you to bring your offering in a container that has a lid, bring your offering in a container WITH A LID, NOT ALUMINUM FOIL! If I ask you to bring a serving spoon for your dish, BRING A SERVING SPOON, NOT A SOUP SPOON! And please do not forget anything.”

And:

"Lisa as a married woman you are now required to contribute at the adult level. You can bring an hors d’ouvres. A few helpful hints/suggestions. Keep it very light, and non-filling, NO COCKTAIL SAUCE, no beans of any kind.”

Most of us know at least one Marney - or a Thanksgiving alpha - though perhaps not quite to her extreme.

Admittedly, I’m somewhat of an alpha turkey myself. I’ve never gone so far as to request exactly four pounds of green beans or decree that the mashed potatoes not be served in a certain, over-sized blue serving dish.

I have, however, single-handedly taken over the big feast, from the turkey to pie(s) to the sweet potato casserole. Sure, my mother has taken to calling herself my sous chef and referring to the prep work as "Hell's Kitchen," but I promise it's not to Marney level - yet.

And I'm not alone.

Stella Metsovas, a California-based food science and nutrition expert, notes her dominant nature is ingredient-driven because of her line of work. It's the heritage turkey and organic way, or the highway.

While her mom is still the master of making the yams, it is Metsovas who insists on driving to a nearby organic farm and purchasing the yams herself.

And if you aren't her mother or mother-in-law, Metsovas says it’s an unspoken agreement that you’re not to bring anything at all.

“Last year, someone did bring something and my mother put the dish way over to the side. It was not a dish that my mother wanted to present next to her dish or my dish. I guess the alpha-ness runs in the family,” she says.

“My first cousin knows not to bring anything here. She’s always bringing some sort of alcohol - wine, a mixer."

For others, the day's executive power stems from ritual.

Some have the parade, others have their grandpa falling asleep at the table after one helping of gravy too many, John McLemore has deep-fried turkey.

Since he was 18 and insisted to his mother that he be responsible for the Thanksgiving turkey, McLemore has been tackling the festive fowl.

McLemore even turned his compulsive routine into a business model: he's the President and CEO of Masterbuilt Manufacturing, which now manufactures turkey fryers for the masses.

While McLemore is still the sole hand responsible for the turkey, he says he might relinquish that duty one of these days - but only to his kids.

“It is interesting because I’ve never considered myself that type of domineering person, but I am,” says McLemore. “The truth hurts, but it sets us free.”

Who wears the apron in your family? Are you or someone you know a 'Thanksgiving alpha?' Share your own tales of control freaks on Turkey Day in the comments below.



soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. Alicia Sabins

    That is a very good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise information Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read post!

    http://community.cookinglight.com/member.php?315067-bioandchic

    December 11, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Reply
  2. Rinsewind

    I am normally in charge of Thanksgiving. I'm willing to make the whole dinner, but if people want to contribute, that's great. All I ask is that you tell me ahead of time what you are bringing so there's no duplicates, that you actually bring what you say, and that you don't arrive two hours late with your dish. I know those rules seems simple, but they're tough to get people to follow sometimes. Duplicate pies are always fine, duplicate Brussels sprouts usually aren't if you want people to actually eat most of the food.

    November 19, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Reply
  3. Joyce

    While some people find humor in the "Alpha" cook, and others state proudly that they are one....I don't think it's either funny or pride-worthy to make family and friends or their efforts to help or contribute seem unwelcome. Frankly, if I'm a guest at a big group meal and the hostess is spending all her time in the kitchen, doing it all herself, I'm uncomfortable. It almost seems like a martyr thing.....while you may sit down to a great meal, Ms. Alpha is secretly gloating over the fact that this was all her doing.

    Also, where do these alphas get off turning their nose down when someone brings something they deem inappropriate, or worse yet, served in the wrong container? Just say thank you, serve it, and shut up....and don't make noise about how you can't heat or store it; that will be evident without you being rude enough to point it out.

    Maybe these alphas just don't want to share credit with anyone else, and would prefer instead to

    November 19, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Reply
    • Joyce

      "...prefer instead to" make everyone feel beholden to them. Kind of puts them in a "one down" position, rather than making an effort to offer a welcoming home, with appreciation for people's presence, as well as their efforts to help, in their own way.

      November 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Reply
  4. K

    I grew up in a very large family and have lots of wonderful memories. My mother was a wonderful cook and homemaker, but she never had fun and was always exhausted. After the meal, instead of sitting around and talking, we immediately began picking up the dishes.
    I'll take less perfection and more laughter, relaxation. It took me years to realize this.

    November 19, 2011 at 12:45 am | Reply
  5. jay in Florida

    Stupid control freaks deserve every bit of pain that gets sent their way.

    November 18, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Reply
  6. Jeepers

    This is my first year to do Thanksgiving. I'm a little nervous, but also excited to be able to do it my way. Plus, we don't have to go and stay with family and they'll just be here for the day. Yay! And if I mess something up, so what? I'm going to make this as relaxing as possible. It's supposed to be fun, right?

    November 18, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Reply
    • Talking Turkey@Jeepers

      Dear God yes! Please do have fun!

      November 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  7. CCML

    I was so turned off after reading the first couple of paragraphs I almost didn't read the rest. I thought the women in MY family were strong willed, but never once were any so obscenely rude over a meal, regardless of the occasion. If anyone approached me in that manner, that would be the last holiday I would waste in their home irrespective of my relationship to them. Life's too short.

    November 18, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Reply
  8. CaterMe

    In my family growing up, we always playfully gave my mother a hard time because she would cater La Madelines turkey dinner. It was good but not a traditional type of cook-all-day dinner. Then, I got married and my mother in law is a wonderful cook and was an alpha in the kitchen. One year, I decided to give it a go since I'm a decent cook, and man was it so much work!!! My body was aching from standing all day, and I was worried the whole time what people thought of my cooking. Next time I host, I'll take my mom's advice and order in a large meal. That way everyone can watch football and relax. :)

    November 18, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Reply
  9. Mike2

    When I was a kid, we would go camping (not on thanksgiving) and it would seem that the trips we remember the most fondly were the rained out disasters that forced us to alter our plans.

    Funny thing. Thanksgiving is kind of the same way. We get together every year and laugh at how my grandmother used as many shells as pecans in her pies. Or the year that we had to have tacos, but had both sides of the whole family there to reminisce and laugh with.

    My advice is to get over it being perfect. Perfection is over-rated. If your family is petty enough to hold dry turkey against you, you probably don't want to spend the day with such petty people anyway.

    November 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Reply
  10. lovn-thanksgiving

    Reading through all these posts, I haven't read many where everyone is just happy to be together.

    For me, Thanksgiving is all about being together. My daughters, ages 11 and 12 and I put together a big spread for the extended family. My favorite part of Thanksgiving is when it is just the 3 of us and we start preparing the food early in the morning. We laugh and make a huge mess. I wouldn't trade that time in for the world.

    Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays left where it really is about giving Thanks and showing appreciation for our blessings. The rest of the holidays are so focused on decorations and gifts that we have lost site of what all of these holidays are for.

    Be Thankful for what you have. At the end of the day, will you remember the green bean casserole that was overdone or the special time you spent with those you care about and cherish.

    November 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Reply
    • Mike2

      Couldn't agree more. Several years ago, we finally told my mother that we wanted her to stop making T-day dinner. She would put so much pressure on herself and go crazy with trying to get it all done. Although we love food, we weren't there for dinner.... We were there for the family. Thanksgiving dinner was actually ruining that.

      Mom still makes dinner, but we all contribute and have scaled back. No more complicated casseroles. Just turkey (usually pre-cooked and reheated), dressing, and some simply prepared veggies (we all contribute desserts). I wouldn't go back to the way it was for anything.

      November 18, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Reply
      • JIm

        So right. I have always dreaded Thanksgiving and never knew why. Then I went to my in-laws and love it. Why? No stress. It was pot luck. It was relaxed. Now my side of the family goes there, too. The house is full of people having a good time, but no stress. The only competition is to see who can bring the most unusual, yummy dish. But even that is good natured. The only one that doesn't like it is my mother cause she can't control it. I feel sad for her. My brothers feel sad for her. But it was the stress she caused that made us want to get away.

        November 18, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Reply
  11. Dolores

    I tell my guests that I will prepare turkey, both bread and cornbread dressings, cranberry salad, both white and wheat rolls, mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots, green bean casarole, both pumpkin and apple pies, and that they are welcome to bring whatever else they think is needed. This way everyone gets what they think makes the meal special.

    November 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Reply
  12. Mago0o

    I bring a couple of bottles of wine to my parents and subsequently drink said bottles while waiting for the feeding to commence. For some reason, my family still enlists me to carve the bird. I am better with a knife hat the rest of 'em, I suppose.

    November 17, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  13. JOE

    Anyone for Godfather pizza? With blonde topping?

    November 17, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Reply
  14. OldestDaughter

    For a long time, it was my mother who handled everything. She's not so much the "alpha" she just really loves cooking and preparing for tons of people. As I got older she taught me everything I needed to know to prepare everything (as she did with each of my siblings). After that, I became "in charge" of specific dishes and then helped as needed with anything else.
    When my aunt and her husband (on my step-fathers side) moved to town to be nearer her mother she insisted on taking over (or at least try to take over) hosting big family holidays. Not my mom's idea of fun, but she allows it in the name of keeping the family peace.
    So now, I've been designated to making the cranberries (which my mother swears are better than hers despite it being her who taught me to make them LOL) and some form of dessert. I love it! The cranberries are easy, and with the dessert I can get a little creative and outside the box with yummy recipes I know everyone will enjoy and still not step on anyones toes who regularly makes a specific dish.

    November 17, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Reply
  15. AlphaTurkey

    Sadly I can relate all to well with Marney.
    "It's my world – the rest of you just live in it. Don't even try to help." but I would like to add, BECAUSE YOU'LL DO IT WRONG! It just saves everyone time, especially myself, if I just do it, because I will either wind up fixing it, or just taking it over anyways.

    Yes, I am the epitome of the words and definition – "Control Freak".

    November 17, 2011 at 11:16 am | Reply
    • gremlinus

      Just because someone does it the way you don't do it, doesn't mean it's wrong. Being an alpha doesn't mean you want everything to go right, you want everything to go your way. I would prefer to just spend time with my family and make it everyone's holiday instead of all about me.

      November 18, 2011 at 11:33 am | Reply
      • Mike2

        Agreed. Get over your notions of what the food HAS to be.

        One of the best thanksgivings I had was a low key affair as my grandfather was dying. The whole family was there, but no one had time to prepare a 'real' dinner. That thanksgiving, we had tacos and good conversations..... and we were thankful.

        November 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Reply
  16. steve

    bring whatever you want in whatever you want. But while i am working in the kitchen (regardless of the day) no one is allowed in the kitchen. The only exception is if my wife wants a cup of coffee; then i'll spare her a few minutes to grind the beans and boil water.

    November 17, 2011 at 7:43 am | Reply
    • Rinsewind

      I'm pretty much with you here. Don't mind people bringing stuff and I'm open to whatever, but please stay out of the kitchen while I'm cooking. I try very hard to be patient and make an exception for my kids if they want to learn, and persistent folks who feel like they have to help. I'd still rather cook by myself.

      November 19, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Reply
  17. MashaSobaka

    Maybe I'm just crazy, but I always thought that Thanksgiving should be a warm, loving holiday full of good people and good food...not a marathon contest to see who can be the most dominant-alpha-control-freak monster. I'm hosting my department's potluck this year for those of us who can't make it home for the holidays and everyone will be bringing a contribution to go with whatever roasted beast I'm going to prepare – probably not a turkey, as I've never really cared for it. Then we'll sit down to dinner, drink wine, catch up, have fun. That's something to be thankful for.

    November 17, 2011 at 1:26 am | Reply
  18. SLA

    Growing up, Thanksgiving was always at my grandmas. She did the turkey and stuffing, and mom and her sisters made/brought everything else. Food was always great - never remember any fighting about who would make what, or who brought what. Now that mom and grandma are gone, we have it at my dad & stepmom's house. My stepmom is the alpha - problem is, she can't cook but she THINKS she can. It's just awful. Turkey is dry EVERY time. She won't let me bring pies this year (which is what I usually do) because she wants "homemade crust". Her crusts are a half inch thick in places and are truly horrible tasting. Apparently my pies with their store-bought Pillsbury crusts aren't acceptable (even though they always get eaten) and her inedible glop is just the thing. Ick. We (husband, myself, stepson and son) won't be having dessert this year, I guess... Ah, well. We'll make pies just for us, and have them when we get back home!

    November 16, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Reply
  19. Tori

    In my family, it depends on where we go for Thanksgiving. This year, we're going to my extended family's home for Thanksgiving. They cook nearly everything and there is no alpha turkey. I am expected to bring the dessert that I bring every year. I'm not in trouble if I don't bring it (my nephews will pout, though) and it's ok if I bring anything else. They just want us there and we all have a great time.

    On alternating years, we go to my husband's family, either his mom's house or his maternal grandmother's house. If we bring anything, most of the family won't touch it. They don't eat sweets and there are usually no pies or anything. Last year it was suggested that my husband (a senior in a university culinary arts program) bring a bread pudding. I am not sure if anyone but us ate it. I've offered to help not only with cooking but with cleaning up, too... and they would rather that I just stay out of the way. I kind of feel unwanted when I go there and I think my husband does, too. My daughter, who my husband is adopting, wouldn't go with us last year.

    November 16, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Reply
  20. Karen

    When we didn't live near family we would go to Mimi's restaurant for Thanksgiving. Oh my word..... yummmmmmyyyyyy. They serve the best Thanksgiving dinner ever.

    November 16, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Reply
  21. ELK

    I am the alpha of Thanksgiving. This will be my third time to host Thanksgiving at my house. The first one, I allowed people to bring something...no one brought anything, except the my mother-in-law, who brought about 4 dozen deviled eggs. Do I have somewhere in my refrigerator to store 100 eggs on Thanksgiving? No, I don't. I think it was a test . Bring something ended right there – I politely said "I can't accommodate your eggs in here" – and I really couldn't – so everyone had to shove a bunch of eggs in their mouth, and then no one was hungry 30 minutes later when it was time for the main event. I do not allow my guests to bring food...I gladly assume all food preparation responsibilities. I don't want anyone putting food in my fridge that I didn't ask for. After the egg debacle no one even asks anymore, they know to just show up and eat.

    November 16, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Reply
    • steve

      4 dozen is 48. about 4 dozen might be considered 50.

      how does this become 100?

      take a math class.

      November 17, 2011 at 7:34 am | Reply
      • Roger

        48 eggs halved is 96. Pretty sure that's what she meant.

        November 17, 2011 at 10:43 am | Reply
  22. Josie

    In my family we sort of take roles in the kitchen. Only once did we have a mishap. My mom was unable to really cook one year, and we all took over. Did really good until we had to make the stuffing. Thankfully mom sat in the kitchen and walked us through it...realizing that was the one thing she hadn't taught us to make!!! I've done a few thanksgiving dinners on my own and have never had a problem with them not turning out. Mainly I thank my mom for allowing all of us to help and teaching us how to make everything from scratch.

    November 16, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Reply
  23. #2

    my husband was a terrific cook and we made dinner together. when he passed, i got our children involved and it was a relaxing day. then i met someone and he invited me to his daughter's house for dinner. we went, it was not relaxing watching her acting all frazzled amongst her family. we went a few years, the whole thing was a turn off, but we stayed home and enjoy cooking last year, i really missed making the big meal and my kids did too. we cook, we eat, we relax, in peace and enjoy just being with each other. i work full time, sometimes one job, sometimes two, so i dont get to cook as much as i like to, and i do enjoy making homemade cranberry sauce, that's my favorite. sometimes people should just let go of the controlling part and let everyone do as they like. some people do it for show, some people do it out of love, that woman just didn't want to let go of control of the situation and all the food was bad, like she got it from boston market or something and it congealed....

    November 16, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Reply
  24. Texas lady

    Always had Thanksgiving at my mother-in-law's house. She is a fantastic cook, but got pretty elderly and couldn't handle it any more. Then her daughter took over – she has a small house, and it got kind of crazy. My husband and I have been hosting for years now. My mother-in-law makes a couple of pies, my sister-in-law does the same, and I make the rest. I have assigned side dishes before, and the rest of the family either "forget", or bring one can of something uncooked. So I just do it all, with all the traditional favorites. The rest of the family all wanted LOADS of leftovers. The first year this happened, they brought extra people (seventeen extra !!!) without letting me know, didn't bring anything themselves, ate like hogs, then STATED they wanted lots of leftovers, not even the decency to ASK. I kept the peace the first year, then told my husband I did NOT take his family to raise, and that was stopping now. So now, whatever they brought that is left over, is what they get to carry home. And the ones that invited extra people have not been invited back themselves – guess they got the message!

    November 16, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Reply
    • GalSinger

      Isn't it sad how rude (and GREEDY) some people can be?? Too bad we can't pick our relatives, but I think you handled the situation splendidly. I imagine your Thanksgivings are now much more enjoyable. Reading these entries has certainly made me even more appreciative of the "laid back" family I came from. Sadly, not many are still living, but those of us that are REALLY enjoy our time together. Thankfully, we learned when our Mother passed (ages ago) that time spent together is more important than any food we eat (or gifts we give/receive). Hope you have a blessed and happy holiday this year!

      November 23, 2011 at 11:52 am | Reply
  25. Shadowflash1522

    My mother and grandmother are kitchen co-alphas - it's kind of hilarious to watch two generations of the same brain share the kitchen. It's my grandma's place, so I suppose technically she's The Boss, but I've never seen them disagree on anything when it comes to Thanksgiving. If anything, they enjoy teaming up against interlopers and ordering around lowly KB's like me :)

    November 16, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Reply
  26. DDD

    I take charge in my kitchen – period. This year I will be enjoying the fruits of someone else's labor and like les, I will be contributing flowers and wine!

    November 16, 2011 at 11:56 am | Reply
  27. Peanut M&M

    My mom controls the kitchen, though we are all encouraged to make things that can be prepared in advance, and then warmed in the oven. I think it's more of a safety issue for her. She really gets too worried that something–or someone– will get burned.
    This year, I am supposed to be going to my mother-in-law's, who's seasoning palate leaves something to be desired. I'm starting to feel a control-freak phase coming on....but really, I can't be too hard on myself. Canned green beans and frozen mashed potatoes are already on the menu. In my opinion, you should make an effort on Thanksgiving!

    November 16, 2011 at 11:37 am | Reply
  28. Cast Iron Chef

    Dear Marney,

    Thank you for your letter. I am happy to bring the stuffing. My recipe contains both oysters and pork sausage, so if you want stuffing without meat, you better make it yourself. And, at last year's thanksgiving at your house, my great-great grandmother's sterling silver serving spoon was "misplaced", so I will be bringing a plastic spoon to use for serving. Since I don't want to worry about carrying an empty casserole dish back home, I will be bringing it in several recycled cool-whip bowls. And I'm sorry, but I can't afford 3 pounds of asparagus. We'll just have to make do with a bag of frozen green beans. We can heat 'em in your microwave. I also will be bringing a 1.75 litre bottle of Jack Daniels, but if others want to drink whiskey, they will have to bring their own. I am afraid this will not be enough for me to share. Above all, thank you for remembering that Thanksgiving is a time to gather and celebrate family and friends, that the dinner doesn't have to be worth of a 5-star restaurant the be memorable. Thank you for remembering that the celeration is the important part, not the meal. Love, Kevin

    November 16, 2011 at 11:09 am | Reply
    • Jenny

      I don't know Kevin, Marney's Thanksgiving sounds pretty DELISH! And her email is super witty. I bet she's a lot of fun.

      I'd gladly spend my holiday at a Thanksgiving Alpha's house – you know it will be done right and in the scheme of things one batch of stuffing is so much easier than turkey and prepping for several guests to take over your house!

      November 17, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Reply
      • Cat Iron Chef

        It's called SATIRE.

        November 18, 2011 at 8:55 am | Reply
    • GalSinger

      I'm laughing so hard I'm nearly crying! Thanks, Cast Iron Chef. Should I be invited, I'll definitely bring my own bottle (or two) of alkeehaul. Yeah... I'll probably need two. And a cold can of jellied cranberry sauce. Cuz nuthin' sayz "Thanksgibbin" like a slice of cold, jellied cranberry sauce...

      November 23, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Reply
  29. misstheatre

    I work in a field where my coworkers and i don't get to go home for Thanksgiving. So we all get together and we each bring a dish or two that are traditional to our individual family's Thanksgiving. We coordinate on Facebook and have a great time with minimal stress, we just cook our dishes at our own places and bring them over! I am always in charge of rolls and anything else bread related.

    November 16, 2011 at 12:12 am | Reply
  30. Barbara

    My mother-in-law will be here this year. She's Mexican and makes really great mexican food. However...no so great in the turkey department. She'll want to help, and I'll find things for her to do, that she can do in another room and leave me to my kitchen to do the cooking, which I love so much! It will work out fine...as long as I can keep her busy...somewhere else! :)

    November 15, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Reply
  31. IHEG

    Its just me and the Hubs, I am "technicaly" the cook the Hubs assists and we are a well oiled team! He does stir things that are cooking and get the bird in and out of the oven and reach the platters on the high shelf ect. it works for us.

    November 15, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Reply
    • JBJingles@IHEG

      Your arrangement sounds just like mine, done to the "hubs"! LOL I call him Sue as in Sous...

      November 15, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Reply
      • IHEG@JB

        LOL, I might have to borrow that

        November 18, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Reply
  32. Jason

    There was something of a power struggle a few years ago. My mother used to make the same thing every year. A turkey breast that she cooked dry, dressing that needed an entire shaker of salt to be palatable, and a bland flour gravy because there were no drippings from the breast. I powered through it in my teenage years. In my late teens, my uncle took over the turkey with a deep-fried bird which was better than my mother's, but still too dry for me.

    At the age of 25, being the up-and-coming chef of the family, I decided that I wanted to go for the alpha of the family kitchen. I claimed the turkey, dressing, gravy, and sweet potato casserole early on (I think sometime in July). My uncle didn't mind shuffling off the turkey responsibilities, but my mother was a lot more stubborn. She insisted on standing in the kitchen, trying to issue instructions until I ordered her out. I brined the turkey and oven-roasted it. I made the stuffing from scratch. I have to say, I went all out. The family loved it. Even my vegetarian cousin tried a piece of the turkey and loved it (she still gets at least one piece every year). My mother pouted all afternoon (especially after the family voted me in charge of the kitchen for future Thanksgivings) and is still a bit surly around the holidays when I go home and invade her kitchen.

    I suspect fowl play (pun intended) this past year when I used my mother's meat thermometer, which jammed and never read higher than 145. When I bought another and checked the turkey, it was at 180 degrees. I was a little upset (mainly at myself for not realizing the stupid thing was broken sooner) that the turkey was dry, but it still had a good flavor and I had plenty of drippings for gravy, so it worked out!

    November 15, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Reply
  33. LP

    We're all good cooks, so everybody in attendance takes on a portion of the food prep. This year we're at my sister-in-law's brother's house, so they're doing the turkey and roasted root veggies. I'm doing appetizers and a side dish, my mom is doing a side dish, hubby is bringing beer, sis-in-law is doing salad and pie, brother will take on mashed taters. We have some favorites, but not a set menu, so it's kind of like an organized potluck.

    November 15, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Reply
  34. ak2k

    Mom makes the turkey, Dad makes the roles, Sister makes the ham, I make as many sides as I can (usually the devilled eggs, green bean and sweet potato casseroles). BIG Family – brings desserts, potatoes, gravy, corn, relish trays, and a ton of other dishes. Very traditional. Mmmmmm.......I can't wait!!!

    November 15, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Reply
  35. Yvonne

    I am the alpha, but my hubby has been tasked with making the mashed potatoes this year. He puts them through the ricer and then the tamis- creamy, elegant, delicious. I have officially abdicated this task to his mastery.

    November 15, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Reply
  36. Sunflower

    I've been informed by my adult sons and husband that they are all bored with traditional turkey dinner. WHAT???? Okay... What do they want? My menu this year goes as follows... Roast duck with fresh raspberry Chambord sauce, mixed mash of potatoes, carrots, and butternut with cream and herbs, sauteed green beans with crispy shallots and almonds with balsamic glaze, spiced apples, roasted brussel sprouts and cranberry grand marnier cheesecake for dessert. Don't want much do they? Shesh... I had traditional down to a science. Now I have to think about it... Wonder what their faces will look like when hand them ALL a crisp new apron to wear!!!

    November 15, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Reply
    • Barbara

      Sounds like you need to hire a caterer and hand hubs and the sons the bill, and kick back this year to watch Hallmark movies all afternoon.

      November 15, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Reply
      • GalSinger

        I like the way you think. Hope Sunflower follows your advice. Lord knows, I would! :-)

        November 23, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Reply
    • IHEG@Sunflower

      I will gladly take their place!

      November 18, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Reply
    • Rinsewind

      Sounds like a great menu! So sit back and watch THEM cook it. :-)

      November 19, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Reply
  37. Kay

    365 days a year the kitchen is mine, all mine! That's why we go out every Thanksgiving.. camping, picnic, buffet, etc.

    November 15, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Reply
  38. Love To Cook

    My favorite day. I take care of all the food. My family and guests take care of dessert and before dinner snacks. They also bring the wine.

    November 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Reply
    • Beth

      Me too. We do Christmas at my in-laws and various birthdays at other sisters' and brothers' homes. My husband and I put on a Thanksgiving meal on Sunday before the holiday and invite all of my husband's family. No one has to bring a thing. Then we travel to my parents' home for the holiday itself. Since it's usually just the four of us there and my husband and I take on a lot of projects for my folks, we generally have a very low-key meal. My mom doesn't like turkey but she makes a good ham. We just sit down to eat as a family instead of stressing about cooking that day. We love it. I'm one of 5 daughters and I rarely get to have my parents to myself. Nobody else goes home on Thanksgiving but us so it's nice to clean gutters or paint or whatever they need done and then just chill out with them.

      November 16, 2011 at 12:18 am | Reply
  39. Ally

    I had no idea I was so lucky. We all have our own tasks that we generally do every year. When new people are added to the family we re-organize. Very laid-back and fun time to see everyone.

    November 15, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Reply
    • MBob

      That's how it is for my family as well; my Aunt and Uncle host and provide most of the side dishes. One cousin brings the turkey, some bring dessert, other side dishes, and appetizers. It's a family event and we all pitch in to help in one way or another. I always bring my special spicy ginger cranberry sauce, and we have the stuff from the can too for the more traditional folks. We chat and work together all day, everyone takes part. I think its great, and not as stressful as one person trying to do everything.

      November 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Reply
  40. Sara

    There needs to be an option for "Thank you for trying to help, but please get out of the kitchen." It's not that I don't appreciate the help, it's that at that particular moment, it's just faster for me to do it myself than to tell you where to find the utensil as we try to try not to collide.

    Also, an option for "I know you mean well, but no, I do not want to use the canned green beans."

    November 15, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Reply
    • Kim

      Or the dehydrated "butter flavor" potatoes *shudder*

      November 15, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Reply
      • Beth

        OMG! You poor, poor woman! To do that to a potato is really a crime against humanity.

        November 16, 2011 at 12:26 am | Reply
  41. r

    It's my way or the highway and feel free to use my car.

    November 15, 2011 at 11:41 am | Reply
    • Church Lady

      Well aren't you special?

      November 15, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Reply
  42. JOE

    Wo's the boss in my kitchen? My microwave!

    November 15, 2011 at 11:40 am | Reply
    • Sunflower

      Ewwww....

      November 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  43. les

    i bring the wine and flowers. everyone always loves my contribution :)

    November 15, 2011 at 11:36 am | Reply
    • Lor

      Absolutely! When I've cooked a great meal, I sit down with my family and looking at beautiful flowers, while drinking wonderful wine is the cherry on top!

      November 15, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Reply
  44. Lauren Bythrow Cormier

    Not joking – my aunt is "Marnie" and I am "Lisa" We got another letter of instructions this year. She's fastidious, picky, almost always funny (sometimes unknowingly) and a great cook. She is unquestionably the definition of a Thanksgiving alpha.

    The best line from this year's email is: "It is unlikely that the Murphy's will like turnips, they weren’t raised by wolves, so don’t go overboard."

    I can't believe her letter got so famous!

    November 15, 2011 at 10:02 am | Reply
    • ak2k

      awesome!

      November 15, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Reply
    • steve

      That makes no sense since wolves don't eat turnips.

      November 17, 2011 at 7:48 am | Reply
      • Jenny

        It's a saying...

        November 17, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Reply
  45. Anon_e_mouse

    We each have our own specialties. For the past few years our younger daughter and her husband have taken over the hosting chores, so I find myself preparing two fresh stuffed turkeys in her kitchen as well as a crockpot of yams and apples; our son-in-law's brother brings a smoked turkey, our daughter makes assorted pies and mashed potatoes, and the other friends and relatives bring the rest. This year it will be different; one of their friends will be hosting, but I'll still be making one bird, and our family's yams and apples recipe – given to this year's hosts a couple of years ago – will still be prepared, but I won't have to do it.

    And I'm OK with that.

    November 15, 2011 at 9:45 am | Reply
  46. Doormat

    I just do as I'm told. "Keep the peace" is the mantra our mother has drilled into us since birth. It's why therapy is now my friend.

    November 15, 2011 at 8:10 am | Reply
    • Loopman

      @Doormat, I'm with you. Whatever I can do to stay out of the way and let the food get on the table fastest. As you state though, sometimes you catch a good bit of grief if someone happens to be having a particularly bad PMS day. But, again, I'm okay with that. Depending on the quality and the quantity of the wine being served with dinner. Happy Turkeyday to all!!!

      November 15, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Reply

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