Thanksgiving eve open thread

Olive and Eve ThanksgivingAre you having a holiday meltdown?  Are you currently engaged in a 70-hour car ride? Do you secretly hate the side dish that family law requires you to cook for the rest of your life? Are you in danger of committing a crime against a relative? Have you already committed said crime? Share your holiday angst (or your holiday joy! that is also allowed) in this special middle-of-the-week non-work open thread.


{ 813 comments… read them below }

  1. Dweali*

    I’m not having any holiday crisis or anything but something I have found helpful when family insists on talking religious/political view points (arguments)–I start talking either about the penis festivals of other countries or placentas and afterbirth

    Yeah, I’m that person but on the upside for the last 3 years I’ve had pleasant conversations with family instead of arguments :-)

        1. Dweali*

          Greece and Japan are the only two I can name off the top of my head…there is also a penis museum in Iceland that has a whale penis and a mouse penis (plus lots of others)

          1. Andraste*

            There’s a documentary about the penis museum in Iceland! It’s called The Final Member, if anyone is interested. :)

    1. Mike C.*

      I find this so strange, because if you don’t personalize the issue, it’s perfectly fine to discuss politics with people who disagree with you. Lots of cultures are perfectly fine with this as well. I find that in doing so, you stop seeing the “other side” as a caricature and the rhetoric is really toned down.

      1. Liz in a Library*

        Sadly, not everyone has family who is willing to be reasonable about these discussions. I absolutely cannot have a political discussion with my father-in-law anymore, because he sees it as a great opportunity to fight, raise voices, and namecall. So we just force the topic to neutral areas…

      2. fposte*

        I think the number of people who can do it without personalizing the issue is pretty small these days. But I’m with you on the value of the opportunity.

      3. Dweali*

        I wouldn’t mind if it was just discussing our differing opinions or respecting that we’re just not going to agree on certain things but I got tired of hearing how all Muslims are evil (they really hated when I brought up all the ‘Christian’ terrorists) and this year if Facebook is any indication I would be getting told how Trump is a godsend and is completely truthful in everything he says

      4. Sorcha*

        That’s great in theory, but in many people’s experience it does not work in practice. I’m delighted for you that you have a family where that works, though. Be thankful for it.

    2. neverjaunty*

      I admire this plan but I can see a problem when a sister-in-law starts an argument about saving the placenta after birth.

      1. the gold digger*

        My sister is a neonatal nurse practitioner. Her take on it:

        If you are a vegan, you do not get to eat the f***ing placenta.

        Put down the f***ing cellphone. You said you wanted a “natural” birth. Cellphones are not natural.

  2. Retail Gal*

    Ooooo! By my user name, guess what I get to do this weekend?

    I’ll be driving two hours tomorrow for the family Thanksgiving, leaving by 6p and praying for good weather…trying to beat that lovely wintry mix meteorologists like to talk about so much

    So it’s 10p – 2a tomorrow, 11a – 3p on Friday, then a shift at my non-retail job right after that. Then, back at work at 5:30 Saturday morning. yaaaaayyyy.

    I’m trying to console myself that by this time tomorrow, I should have a box of white fudge Oreos…a tradition of my MIL’s to give to her offspring’s families on Thanksgiving.

    1. LAMM*

      Fellow retail person here… Good luck Thursday & Friday! My store is one of the one’s who decided not to open on Thanksgiving, but previous years I haven’t been so lucky. In the past I’ve exchanged not working on Thanksgiving (the only holiday of the season my family celebrates at home) in exchange for closing Christmas Eve and opening the day after (since my family all goes out of town for Christmas to see grandparents and whatnot). But I’ve been lucky with good bosses willing to take me up on the offer.

      That said, I get to be at my store bright and early at 5:30am on Black Friday, so my holiday will be cut short regardless.

      Just a side note… Don’t complain about how “early” stores open on Black Friday (whether that’s on Thanksgiving or not) and then in the next breathe ask when everyone is meeting up to go shopping when stores open up. That’s the main reason I don’t go to the BF’s family’s house for Thanksgiving. One year they complained about how unfair it was that stores opened at midnight, and then turned around and listed off all the stores they were planning on hitting at midnight. Left a bitter taste in my mouth, and that was the last year I went there.

      1. INFJ*

        Ugh. Ditto. I’ve never worked in retail, but I think it’s awful that black Friday starts on thanksgiving now. I have only gone once in my life (back when it was actually on friday) and, generally speaking, don’t shop on holidays because I think it’s really crappy that people have to work them.

      2. Clever Name*

        That’s….kind of oblivious. I
        We won’t be going shopping tomorrow. I’m hoping to do something outdoorsy, but it’s snowing now and I’m not sure if it will be enough for snowshoeing. :)

    2. Nina*

      I know a few people doing retail and they’re already preparing for the Black Friday rush. Good luck to y’all, and enjoy your Oreos!

    3. Overeducated and underemployed*

      Oof. Makes me feel grateful to just be doing 830-5 shifts Friday and Saturday (though it does mean I can’t spend the holiday with family, one day off isn’t enough for a 7 hour trip each way). Enjoy those oreos and good luck staying safe and awake.

    4. Liane*

      So happy not to be in retail now. Done too much of that Thanksgiving to Black Friday Spice Mines of Kessel cashiering. OldJob also does those One Hour Guarantee things, which means in practice you’ll get Coveted Thing through the ship to store program several weeks later. Since Oldjob never made sure the cashiers, many of whom only ran a register at this event, knew how to ring these up correctly and the website where you had to validate your receipt was glitchy, there were a lot of these transactions that went wrong. As Customer Service, I spent a lot of my work days the next couple weeks trying to get these understandably unhappy folks’ orders fixed. And it wasn’t easy because in-store CSRs can’t access the online accounts, so I had to call online Cust. Serv using the same ph. number as the customers would, and it was hard to get through because they were dealing with lots of these problems…
      My heartfelt sympathies. Enjoy those Oreos.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      A friend of mine who works in a mall management office has to work today, and she posted on Facebook: “I love you guys and everything, but if I see any of you out shopping tomorrow night while I’m stuck working, I will punch you in the face. Don’t encourage stores to be open on Thanksgiving.”

      So my reply was “If you see me shopping anywhere [on Thanksgiving], you have permission to not only punch me in the face, but kick me in the nuts, too.”

      I’m not planning on doing any purchasing of anything today or tomorrow, except maybe online. Tomorrow my daughter has a just-for-fun horse show, and then Saturday we’re all going to see Mockingjay, Part 2 in the theater with the recliner seats.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Yes. The only way I will be making a purchase today is a) an emergency such as needing medicine, which I devoutly hope we don’t have or b) gas for the drive. (At a self-pump facility, I hope. It depends – I just realized I didn’t check with my husband that he filled his car up, and it’s his we’ll be using. If it’s really low, we may not make it to the state line before we need gas – and you can’t pump your own in Oregon. Sigh.)

    6. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Good luck! Hope your shifts go by quickly and your customers aren’t jerks.

      I do not miss the retail life. Everyone in my office complains that we’re open the day after Thanksgiving, I’m just happy to not have to be there at 4am!

    7. Crazy Diamond*

      I just got off work from feeding 300+ people. The good thing is that everything went smoothly and I got a lot of compliments on the food. The bad thing is that I’m tired as hell and too wound up to sleep.

  3. ThursdaysGeek*

    No angst here either — my spouse and his siblings all get along, and that’s where we’ll be. I do have an hour left of work, however, and it’s supposed to get really COLD in the next few days.

    And of course, my special dish is the fruit salad: fruit cocktail, some fresh fruits (banana, apple, pear, persimmon this year), mixed in whipped cream, plus chocolate chips. Easy and always tasty.

    Enjoy your Thanksgiving if you’re US, have a good work day tomorrow for the rest of all y’all.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        So much better than those mushy mini marshmallows. I’m a dark chocolate person, but milk chocolate chips seem to be a bit better in this instance. I think they’re not as hard when they’re cold.

      2. Mander*

        Whoa, I’ve got to tell my mom to try this! She always makes a thing called cherry fluff (cherry pie filling with pineapple bits and walnuts, in the requisite non-dairy topping), which is awful on one hand but awesome on the other. I think a few chocolate chips would be a big hit with the niblings!

        1. Overeducated and underemployed*

          There’s a recipe I saw on the Bitten Word blog this year for a trifle with spice cake, cherry filling, and whipped cream. Sounds similar to cherry fluff in a way? Looks delicious.

          1. Liza*

            Ooh, that recipe looks delicious! (I found it by Googling “Bitten Word trifle spice cake cherry filling whipped cream” without the quotes.)

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Cherries and chocolate are amazing together. My mom used to make a chocolate cheesecake with a cherry pie filling topping. :-9

    1. jmkenrick*

      I too, am super lucky to have a family that gets along super well. Although I am fairly ambivalent about the side-dish I bring every year: a cornbread-chorizo stuffing that my father seems to adore.

      1. Esra*

        Is there a secret to persimmons? I wonder if I’m just not eating them at the right time, but they always have this weird, starchy flavour.

        1. fposte*

          I don’t like the Japanese varieties that much; it’s the luscious American ones, where you can’t eat them too early or your face will shrivel up and die, that are like pudding in a skin.

            1. fposte*

              I would think you’d be in persimmon country–the tree is native to Kentucky so thrives in the southern Midwest. I’d wait until next fall and see if you can get some local ones.

          1. Hlyssande*

            And it’s an utter PITA to find them if you’re not in the area where they’re grown.

            I once had the most AMAZING persimmon pudding in southern IL. Can I find them to order in to MN? Nope. All I can find are the Japanese kind, which just aren’t the same.

        2. Thinking out loud*

          There are two main kind of persimmons in American grocery stores. The bottom of one has more of a teardrop/roma tomato look to it, and one has a flatter bottom, like a donut peach. For the teardrop ones, they have to be extremely soft – mushy even – before the weirdness goes away. The other type are good when they’re just slightly soft, maybe like a pear. That type is my favorite. The skins annoy my husband, so I’ll skin them if I’m feeling nice, but it’s not necessary in my opinion. I like to put them in salad with nuts and goat cheese, or just eat them.

  4. Sunshine*

    Yes! This time of year is so stressful for me, it’s like a two month panic attack. My introverted tendencies get stronger every year, so all the “people” time is just exhausting. Hang in there everyone!

    1. F.*

      You hang in there, too. I know exactly what it feels like. Fortunately, it is only me and my husband for Thanksgiving. I am already dreading Christmas Eve with his family, a bunch of loud, chain smoking drunks. Just thinking about it raises my anxiety.

      1. Windchime*

        Ugh, it raises mine, too, and I don’t even have to go! What would happen if you got an unfortunate migraine on Christmas Eve?

        1. F.*

          I can’t do that to my husband. He can’t drive at night, and we don’t live near anyone else going who can pick him up. Besides, I wouldn’t want him riding home with someone who had been drinking as much as these people do. He only gets to see them (this includes his daughters and adult grandson) twice a year (Christmas Eve & Easter), so I just have to buck up and go. Other than seeing his kids & grandson for a couple of hours, he would rather stay home, too.

    2. Hiding on the Internet Today*

      I’m an extrovert, but a homebody with a taste for small group, long into the night, deep discussion for my social hit. The holiday grind kills me and is even more brutal on my introvert husband.

      Several years ago I instituted the rule that my family travels to the big family holiday bash for Thanksgiving or Christmas, not both. This year, it’s Christmas in our own home. Just us, a pretty little tree, and nowhere to go. Bliss.

      You can just skip it. Year one, there is pouting and whining. Year two there’s a little huffiness. Year three it’s “will we see you for T day or Christmas this year?”

    3. Windchime*

      It’s stressful for me, too. I have had trouble sleeping for the past two nights. I couldn’t fall asleep until 1 AM and then had to get up this morning at 5 in order to put a turkey in the oven. We are eating at a relative’s house but we need more than one turkey for leftovers for the weekend.

      Plus, my housekeeping standards aren’t as high as others’ so when I know company is coming to stay, there is a flurry of mopping and scrubbing to be done. My house isn’t filthy; just cluttery and stuff.

  5. brownblack*

    I know this is non work related discussion and everything, but I am still at work and will be for about an hour, during which I need to be very productive. SIGH.

    1. Lionness*

      I strongly suggest you take on celebrating Thanksgiving. I encourage people all around the world to do so. It is a great day to think about all of the wonder and great things in life (and be irritated by your family and fellow humans).

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        And it can be done on a random Monday in October just as easily as a Thursday in November, so the day doesn’t really matter.

        1. Weekday Warrior*

          +1 ! I like our low key Canadian version a lot. But I find the all out American commitment endearing to watch.

          1. Blurgle*

            I actually shudder at the American holiday. It seems so creepily marketing-driven. “Spend money! Spend it now! Plane tickets! Food! BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING!!!”

              1. Weekday Warrior*

                Yeah, before Black Friday became such a thing I thought it was great that Americans could have a non retail family -focussed holiday that the whole country took seriously. Keep the best parts American friends!

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I don’t either. I do associate those with the day after, but I think the day itself is still really about family and an intense commitment to eating. I like it.

                1. fposte*

                  I heard an ad that tried to sell based on the coinage “Thanksgetting.” Which I found really appalling, and I hope they suffer for it.

              3. Lindsay J*

                This. To me Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it is the least commercial driven out there.

                You get together with family, you eat. Yes, you buy food, but it doesn’t feel “pushed” to me. It might be more all on one table than usual but that’s because you have more people than you usually do. People joke about overeating and stuff, but in my experience you don’t eat all that much more than a regular full meal (and you spend a lot more time sitting over the meal than you usually do – catching up with people you haven’t seen in a long time, etc).

                And yes, a lot of people fly. But that’s not pushed by the airlines. That’s because if you family lives far away and you want to see them you have to fly. There is no other option to cover the distance of the US in less than a day, so if you work your option is the fly out Wednesday night, or not see your family.

                Black Friday is completely separate from the actual holiday. It was/is encroaching on the actual holiday itself for awhile, but people have always been generally upset about that and it seems like this year we’re actually gaining some momentum – several large retailers have committed to not opening on Thanksgiving. Hopefully next year more follow suite.

                FWIW when I lived at home (and wasn’t stuck working retail) we even had nice family time on Black Friday. All the women in the family (including me when I graduated high school) would go out shopping starting at a reasonable time (10am ish or so). Everyone would knock out their Christmas shopping, and having everyone there was convenient so you could ask, “Oh, what size shirt does Alex wear? Does Laurie already have this toy?” Then we would go get lunch together, shop a little more, and then get some kind of treat like ice cream. It was nice bonding time and we never once got into a fist-fight over a big screen tv or anything.

            1. Mander*

              I’ll agree that the black Friday nonsense has gotten completely out of hand, but the holiday itself is not about shopping at all. Being overseas I’m a bit removed from it all but the black Friday crap pisses me off so much that I avoid buying anything, even milk, on that day. It’s especially stupid because we don’t have thanksgiving in the UK.

              1. Violet Rose*

                I find the UK’s adoption of Black Friday both disturbing and amusing. I also see a lot of stores that seem fuzzy on the concept: for example, “Black Friday sales starting Monday!”

              2. Chinook*

                “Being overseas I’m a bit removed from it all but the black Friday crap pisses me off so much that I avoid buying anything, even milk, on that day. It’s especially stupid because we don’t have thanksgiving in the UK.”

                Up north here, we get the benefit of seeing all the commercials without having to actually go out and shop. Though I am starting to get ticked off at the HomeSense commercials I keep seeing on a Canadian channel (CTV) bragging about how they won’t be open on Thanksgiving. And Ford bragging about beating the Black Friday lineups (Global this morning during the news) by having a week long sale. Cool – too bad they are a month late. Too bad they couldn’t take the time/money to create one a commercial that focuses on their Canadian consumers who are watching the commercial.

                1. Alpha*

                  Yeah, I’m in the UK and work in retail and my company has decided to jump on the black friday bandwagon this year. Hence, I spent last night tearing down half our Christmas displays to display special black Friday ‘deals’ which I will have to put back again tonight. Not amused.

            2. Ops Analyst*

              My family does absolutely no Black Friday shopping. since we are older now my siblings and I tend to spend the actual thanksgiving day with our SOs/families and then spend Black Friday doing our immediate familys traditional thanksgiving that we grew up with. It’s one of the only times per year we are all able to get together at the same time (with the exception of my older brother who always does the whole thanksgiving weekend with his wife’s family “because they come to us for Christmas” even though his wife is Jewish and they don’t celebrate Christmas). But it’s definitely not retail driven for us and I imagine that is still true for many families.

            3. the gold digger*

              That might be the message, but there are a lot of us who ignore it. Actually, not just ignore it – I refuse to shop on Black Friday (and certainly on Thanksgiving Day) because the whole thing ticks me off so much.

              1. Windchime*

                Same here. The thought of shoving and fighting and pushing through the crowds for the chance to buy a cheap TV (which will still be cheap days later) is appalling to me. I’d much rather sit home and watch WSU beat the Huskies at the Apple Cup football game. Go Cougs!

                (And now I have just totally outed myself)

              2. Mallory Janis Ian*

                Me, too. I would rather dig out my eyeball with a spoon than shop on black Friday. I like to hole up in the house with my family, read a book, binge on Netflix, and eat leftover turkey sandwiches on a yeast roll with dressing and cranberry sauce beside it.

          2. Sandy*

            We’re Canadian, so this is all very funny to watch from a distance. But our babysitter is American, and far away from her kids, so last night I made a “side dish only” American Thanksgiving for her.

            Mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, stuffed mushrooms and apple pie for dessert.

            It was fun!

          3. Felicia*

            Canadian Thanksgiving and American Thanksgiving are sooo different, and I also prefer our Canadian version. Canadian Thanksgiving is way less of a big deal, and people are more relaxed about it, to the point where several people, at least in my large multi cultural city, barely do Thanksgiving at all. I also like that it’s *supposed* to be about the harvest , rather than pilgrims, since that’s a problematic holiday basis.

            1. Lionness*

              I don’t know anyone that actively associates our Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims still. We do recognize that that was the first (albeit likely highly fictionalized) Thanksgiving, but it is now about being with family and friends and celebrating our good fortunes.

          4. Book Person*

            +10000. I’m usually travelling for work over Canadian Thanksgiving, so my celebration tends to be “find a really great sushi restaurant to treat myself; watch a movie,” which is awesome but makes my American friends confused and sad.

            I went to one American Thanksgiving, and it was intense. Fantastic, but intense. I have a vivid memory of taking only small spoonfuls of each of the casseroles to try, and still not being able to fit all of them on one plate. Also there were two turkeys and a ham. It blew my Canadian mind.

              1. Chinook*

                “I went to an American thanksgiving once, and my thought was also intense.”

                Having talked with Americans when I lived abroad, I figured out the correlation: Thanksgiving is to Americans what Christmas is to Canadians and Black Friday is to Americans what Boxing Day is to Canadians (only we get to spend our Christmas money and gift cards at the sales on ourselves instead of others :)).

                True, not all Canadians celebrate Christmas but the 2 days off back to back plus New Year’s Day just a week later does make it easier to visit family and nothing is ever open on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day except for the basics (like drug stores and coffee shops).

        1. Lionness*

          Well that’s good, but just think of how great it would be to be thankful AND eat an amazing feast! Could be fun!

          1. UK Nerd*

            We do the amazing feast bit at Christmas. I can’t handle another one only a month earlier.

            And honestly, it’s your festival. We’re fine without it. We have our own stuff.

            1. Anomie*

              Yes, I was just thinking we don’t need to push an American holiday on other countries. Other countries have their own thing and thanksgiving is so clearly linked to American history that I makes no sense.

              1. Lionness*

                Except other countries have Thanksgiving, like Canada.

                It isn’t “pushing American holidays” to encourage people to take a day to celebrate and remember to be thankful. Particularly in today’s world.

                1. Nashira*

                  …except they can do that at other times, instead of having to copy another culture’s holiday? I get that you’re huge into Thanksgiving but seriously, it can be done without entirely.

                2. Lionness*

                  First, setting aside a day for giving thanks is most certainly *not* an “American” thing, the “American” thing is doing it on the 4th Thursday in November. It is a thing in dozens of cultures, in fact most cultures.

                  You read a lot into a simple comment encouraging people in all countries to set aside a day for giving thanks.

                3. Hlyssande*

                  Yes, but you’re missing the context in that American Thanksgiving is essentially celebrating the genocide of indigenous peoples.

            2. Lionness*

              You don’t have to do it at the same time, or even in the same way. And from what I know from my UK coworkers, your Christmas celebration is already quite a bit like our Thanksgiving celebrations so that’s awesome.

              1. UK Nerd*

                We already have harvest festivals for people who want to do that sort of thing. And Christmas has us covered for turkey, family and petty recriminations. We’re all good.

    2. Tau*

      As another European non-celebrator I’ve seen the Black Friday thing around here as well, which is just bewildering because there is no holiday what are you doing. Like, if we *have* to adopt American holidays at least adopt the actual holiday and not the horrendous retail side-effects. All the sympathies to retail workers, yep.

      On the more general impending holiday front (hope that’s okay), I still need to source a wreath for the first of Advent (which is Sunday). Procuring one has been a never-ending drama ever since I moved to the UK, and although I haven’t quite hit the point of sneaking into a park late at night with a balaclava and a pair of scissors I have been closer than I’d like to think. Here’s hoping I manage to turn something up!

      1. Pipette*

        Have you tried the garden centres? That’s where all the good Christmas stuff is according to the locals.

      2. Mander*

        My experience suggests that if you wander into a bit of local woodland with some clippers and a plastic bag and start gathering greenery, the local dog walkers might look at you funny but if you hold up your shears and say “making decorations!” with a big cheesy grin, nobody will stop you. Having a foreign accent no doubt helps. :-)

        1. UK Nerd*

          My mum used to go surreptitiously pruning in the park every year. It had some nice holly (no berries though) and an excellent variegated spotted laurel.

          Otherwise, try a florist.

        2. Tau*

          Haha, it’s truly amazing what a foreign accent lets you get away with. ;) But it’s good to know that balaclavas are most likely not necessary! This way I’ll have a backup plan if none of the florists have one I can use (as said below, I need a specific type of base so I can put candles on it, so I can’t always use the wreaths they sell).

      3. misspiggy*

        If you’re near a big and rambling park rather than a small and manicured one, it’s no problem to lop off some leaves and berries for a wreath. People are in our local park all year round getting mushrooms, blackberries, elderflowers, autumn leaves for collages, and whatever else. Local farmers’ markets or craft markets will have wreaths too. Garden centres tend to only have the plastic ones which is a pity. M&S have some good artificial wreaths as well.

        1. Tau*

          Thanks, I’ll keep this in mind! There’s one park that might qualify, plus I’m in a much smaller town now than I was last year so I might be able to make it out into the countryside and find something! I’ve been meaning to get out a bit more anyway.

          The wreath problem, FWIW, is that since I’m planning to stick candles on it I really need one with a solid base so they’ll be secure, and the wreaths I see for sale are generally either artificial ( so probably not the best to combine with fire ) or just branches + wire. I do in fact have a straw wreath base and wire to use for wrapping, but that means sourcing branches. *eyes nearby park*

  6. jamlady*

    Angst! My dad won’t stop asking me if I’m pregnant and he’s posting pregnancy/baby things on Facebook and tagging me in them hahah baby crazy man.

    1. The Expendable Redshirt*

      Suggest that he think about adopting a baby himself.

      Ack! I’ve also experienced the overly enthusiastic and persistent hopeful grandparent syndrome. It was amusing for a short time.

      Eventually I had to be blunt with my parents. I was not pregnant, and had no plans to become pregnant within the X years. If they wanted a baby around, they’d best adopt one themselves.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Ha. The first dinner I had at my husband’s parents’ house when we were dating, his mom started pitching me on what a great grandmother she would be: helpful but not interfering, etc., etc. Which did turn out to be mostly true, but it was a bit early for her to have mentioned it. I think by the time my husband started dating me, he was already a few years behind his mother’s biological grandmother clock.

      2. jamlady*

        Haha my sister has a 3 year old and a 9 month old – you’d think he’d be okay for at least another year!

    2. LSCO*

      Haha, I get this too! My favourite response is simply “if you’re willing to pay for them, I’m willing to have them” – that shuts people up pretty quickly!

    3. Ada Lovelace*

      Our families have skipped the desire for us to get married and jumped straight into they would make fabulous grandparents. I’ve told them all “remember this moment because when we want to get away you will all babysit”. Also my boyfriend’s father saw me last year for Christmas and congratulated me and asked how far along I was. I told him not as far as you are.

    4. MaryMary*

      I referred my mom to volunteer opportunities at the local children’s hospital. Now she gets to snuggle NICU babies once a week, and drops far fewer hints about not being a grandmother yet.

    5. Chinook*

      “My dad won’t stop asking me if I’m pregnant and he’s posting pregnancy/baby things on Facebook”

      I shut down my grandmother on this when I was in my late 20’s and unmarried. I pointed out that, since I lived in a military town, she could give me 9 to 10 months and I could supply her with a great grandchild no problem. :)

    6. EvilQueenRegina*

      Ugh, I hope my aunt never starts that, I already had enough of her shopping for outfits for my non-existent wedding…

  7. Elizabeth West*

    I was driving home after getting to leave early and thinking “Open thread is coming! Wait, it’s not Friday, darn it.”

    I have nothing special to do and no one to do it with, but I HAVE to make tracks on Secret Book, make something to wear at the Christmas ice show (gah!), clean, maybe put up some decorations, and practice my program. *sigh* I wish I had some social time in there with someone special, but there isn’t any hope of that. I won’t whinge about it any more so I’ll leave off now.

    I will probably have ham and beans tomorrow night because I’ve been craving them, and it’s supposed to rain 3-6 inches this weekend. Perfect soup-ish weather. :) And corn muffins!

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      You’re welcome to join us for Thanksgiving, but only if you bring some of that rain with you. And if it’s too late for this year, come next year. But rain — we want some of that rain!

      1. SL #2*

        Drought state dweller too? ;) It rained out of absolutely nowhere here (LA) for about an hour last night and then stopped. At least my car got a good wash…?

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          I’m a bit farther north, but yeah. Elizabeth is perhaps getting more rain than we usually get in a year and very likely is going to get more rain than we have got this year.

        2. Connie-Lynne*

          It rained yesterday morning for us in SF… So of course I left my lights on and had to get a jumpstart to get home!

    2. SaraV*

      Oooo. Ham & beans with corn muffins sounds wonderful.

      I have a coworker whose oven broke about a week and a half ago, and they just don’t have the funds to replace it. (Stovetop still works though) He said for Thanksgiving they’re probably having beef and noodles. That also sounds really good.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Beef and noodles sounds luscious. :D

        I’m not doing a fancy made-from-scratch version for just me; it will be great northern beans from a can and cubed ham (I buy it for making quiche) and the Jiffy muffin mix. I know that sounds absolutely pathetic, but I like it. :)

      2. misspiggy*

        You might want to get your coworker to look up replacing an oven element on YouTube, unless he’s sure it’s not the element. Elements are usually cheap and so easy to replace that even I’ve done it.

    3. A Teacher*

      We’re going to Perkins (family chain) for dinner. My extended family is all forms of dysfunctional so my immediate family doesn’t really interact with them and my sister actually hates thanksgiving related foods so Perkins it is–and pie is included with the dinner!

    4. chump with a degree*

      Beans and cornbread is the best meal ever. Even better for breakfast. I may be channeling my inner Okie-once-removed here.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        It is delicious. I like all kinds of beans, except for kidney and garbanzo beans. An old-timey drive-in restaurant here that may or may not still be open (I haven’t been there in a long while) used to have brown beans and cornbread as a lunch special sometimes. When I worked nearby, I would go down there for lunch and if I saw them on the menu that week, go back and get them.

  8. Macedon*

    My existential angst is that, having moved on from my role in US, I’m deprived of seasonal pecan pie. Particularly since most my co-workers used to bring in some right before/after Thanksgiving.

    I’ll never get used to the pumpkin fascination, but pecan pie. That was beautiful.

    1. Andrea*

      Pumpkin chiffon pie is served in heaven. Pecan pie is served in jail. Pecan pie=sugar with a crust. Blech!

      1. Stephanie*

        Maple syrup for the custard (possibly with some bourbon). It makes it soooo much better. Also, toast the pecans.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I love pecan pie, so I understand. I make a pretty good one, stuffed with pecans and a little salty and it’s deeeelicious.

      1. Macedon*

        A bit of salt could definitely bring out the caramel, if you go with sinking your pecans into that, I can definitely see it!

    3. F.*

      Marie Callendar makes a good pecan pie, at least according to my husband, who bought 3 of them. They’re a seasonal thing here in PA. You find them in the frozen food case.

      1. Macedon*

        I’m afraid pickings are slightly slimmer in the UK, but I’m on the hunt for a recipe to rival the pecan pie I had in New York at someone’s family dinner – with my luck, a well-guard secret passed down over the generations………..

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          All you need is the pecans! Most pecan pie recipes call for Karo syrup, which is a corn syrup that is not too far off from Lyle’s Golden Syrup, and I bet you ANYTHING you could make a great pie with Lyle’s. In fact, there’s a recipe for it on the King Arthur Flour website. You just need someone to ship you a ton of good shelled pecans. :)

          1. Macedon*

            Thanks for that! I have a trusty shell recipe I might default to, but very interested in the filling!

        2. Cristina in England*

          Smitten Kitchen also has a recipe for pecan pie with Lyle’s. You often see Lyle’s listed as a replacement for light corn syrup in recipes that are adapted for UK readers, but please: my fellow Americans, Lyle’s is in no way similar to corn syrup, taste-wise. If you have a recipe that includes a tiny amount of corn syrup for texture only, and you don’t want to taste it, fine, but consider using Lyle’s as your first choice if you want to add a rich flavor. It was sent to earth by the Butterscotch fairies and we are lucky to be graced with its presence. I recommend it spread on toast with butter. It is divine.

          Also, sells kilo bags of pecans online even to non-members and they are the best you will find here.

          1. Small Creatures Such As We*

            +1000. I’m fairly certain I made the Smitten Kitchen recipe a couple years back (whatever recipe I used referenced John Thorne’s Outlaw Cook and specified toasting the pecans, but I think it recommended South Carolina cane syrup?).

            It. Was. Amazing. Pecan pie is usually just slightly too sweet/corn-syrupy for me, but my God, it was incredible. I recommend highly.

            My first world problem is that my husband prefers custard pie. Which he makes for us. 100% from scratch (left to my own devices, I buy the pie crust. Because what am I, a pastry chef?!). I strong-armed him into creme brulee pie for this year. Woe is me. I’m going to have to eat half of it this year, to report on how terrible it is. For science.

          2. Swoop*

            Lyle’s is delectable. I used it for the first time last week to make a gingerbread cake and it smelled so good that I wanted to use it as perfume and the taste matched the scent…so good

        3. Mander*

          I had a slice of some kind of cheesecake/orange liquer/pecan pie mash-up at San Marino cafe next to Brixton station yesterday that was pretty dang good, if you happen to be anywhere near south London and need a fix straight away.

          My favorite sugar in a crust recipe is something called shoo-fly pie. My dad got the recipe from someone at work years ago but I don’t know where they were from. It’s basically molasses and oatmeal in pie form, which is great for me because I love molasses. He also got a recipe for oatmeal pie which is basically poor man’s pecan pie.

          Argh, I wasn’t feeling homesick at all but now I want pie! Sadly I don’t think I could make it home in time for dessert even if I got on the plane now. :-(

            1. fposte*

              Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia has great Amish food stands, and one makes (made?) the most amazing shoofly pies–including a chocolate version.

        4. misspiggy*

          If you’re in London and in reasonable funds, Fortnums and Selfridges currently have the most beautiful pecan pies at their bakery counters. Cost of their baked stuff is surprisingly reasonable compared to the rest of their food.

          1. Macedon*

            I am actually London-based and not opposed to the occasional splurged, even though daring the Selfridges crowd is always a Feat — but it might be worth it for this!

    4. pony tailed wonder*

      My dad got a wild streak in him one year and made a chocolate bourbon pecan pie. It was heaven on a plate.

      1. Nashira*

        Someone gave my office a chocolate pecan pie last winter, in a lard crust. Nobody else in my office likes pecan pie, AHAHAHA, so I ate pie a few days in a row.

        We also got given a couple big trays of pistachio baklava, and I ate baklava for breakfast for a week and a half. I was almost sick of baklava at the end of it. Almost.

        1. JessaB*

          How do you ever get sick of baklava. Yum. I am not fond of pecans (or walnuts) but pistachios are amazing.

          1. Nashira*

            It was like three 9″x13″ trays of baklava and I was the ONLY person who liked it. I seriously ate two on my own, since everyone else tried one bit and went D: and never went back.

            It was awfully good though.

        2. fposte*

          Ha–I can’t look at the stuff after gorging on way too much when one of our relatives sent us some when I was a kid.

  9. JulieB*

    One side of the family is a major drama fest over every. single. thing. So…..they haven’t officially invited us over for Thanksgiving, so we’re not going. Staying home and having friends over. Evil grin. I know they’ll claim we should have known we were invited, and even if we had gone or just shown up it would have been drama regardless, so at least this drama will not involve seeing them..

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Of course! You don’t just drop in uninvited, and it’s almost as rude to ask for an invitation. I’ve had some of our closest friends offer a standing invitation, which is different, and I certainly wouldn’t show up without asking them first anyway.

      But it is especially gratifying when the drama llama “forgets” to invite you, thinking that you’ll have to beg for an invitation or they can act put-upon about the sudden extra guests, and you take them up on their (lack of an) offer, isn’t it?

      1. A Teacher*

        Even better is when you don’t go and then they bash you to mutual people you know and other extended family that couldn’t be there for “blowing off the family.” Ugh. Have a good holiday with your friends!

  10. OfficePrincess*

    Heh. This is week 2 of our 3 busiest weeks at work (yay retail supply chain). I’m working 6-12 tomorrow morning and 6-10 or so Friday and then on call all weekend.

    I’m not making anything special tomorrow. Friday as soon as I get out of work we are hopping in the car for a stupid long ride that ends in spending the weekend at my inlaws on an air mattress shoved in a corner because there is no room left after all the other family shows up (they’re a little much and are in a much better position to get a hotel but my MIL thinks this will be a great idea). But we at least get a few hours and some turkey with family I do like before getting back in the car Sunday night to be back for crazy week #3 which culminates in a choir concert that I’m so not ready for.

    Send booze. I’m not picky.

    1. Stephanie*

      *solidarity fist bump* I’m working 2-midnight Friday. I got out Saturday since volume projections are down (I was originally scheduled for that day). I was voluntold to supervise the floor workers. It’s been…trying.

    2. Dan*

      Ha ha. My parents shoved my ex and me on a futon. The next time we visited, after I protested, mom gave up the queen bed and took the futon.

      Ex is history. I told dad I’m too old for the futon.

      There is now an air bed on top of the futon (?!)

      Will post an update tomorrow after I attempt to sleep on it.

      1. Stephanie*

        Air bed on top of a futon? Lolwut? Just put the air bed on the floor.

        I slightly dread visiting one of my friends because his guest sleeping accommodations are terrible. Time before last it was a love seat (I’m 5’5″…so no) or a pallet (or sleeping bag). Most recent time, it was a futon with a super thin mattress. I usually drive and end up exhausted on the return drive as I haven’t gotten a decent night’s sleep.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The last time I slept on an air mattress the air went away by morning. I vote take the futon plus air mattress. sigh.

      2. Mander*

        I actually started doing that, but the other way around. Our futon is not very comfortable but rarely used, and both it and the air mattress are really low to the ground. But if you combine the two they fit nicely in the futon frame and it feels like a normal bed! I use an old thin foam camping mat to protect the air mattress from the hinges on the futon frame and so far it seems to have worked.

  11. Esra*

    Americans, y’all are hardcore about Thanksgiving. For us, it’s a random Monday off in early October that equals a good meal and naps.

    1. Al Lo*

      The funniest (to me) thing about American Thanksgiving is the insistence that the sky will fall if Thanksgiving dinner isn’t ON THURSDAY, and the ensuing family/in-law drama that ensues. In Canada, Thanksgiving is Monday. But dinner is, just as often, on Sunday. Or Saturday. Maybe even Friday evening, although that’s far less common. It makes sharing the holiday a lot less dramatic.

      This year, we had both of our family dinners before Monday, so Thanksgiving Day itself was a very lazy stay-at-home day.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        We’ve moved it to Friday a couple times. Of course, my family also agreed last year to move Christmas to February…

      2. Ihmmy*

        this is the best. We figure out when most people are free and use that date. And lately we’ve been making it a little more potlucky, everyone brings at least one dish to the hosts house so that they don’t have to do everything. the same awesome family usually hosts for xmas too so they get to decide whether it’s ham or turkey for each of the meals (usually turkey for both, but about 40% of the time it’s ham)

    2. The Expendable Redshirt*

      Dear Americans. Please be advised that you are celebrating Thanksgiving a month late. Signed, Canada.

      1. Lionness*

        Dear Canada:

        Quit stealing our holidays or just join us as State 51, est. 2015.


        Your Favorite Southern Neighbor

        1. Thomas W*

          My Canadian friends informed me when I moved here that theirs apparently came first.

          … but I agree with you anyway. O:-)

        2. esra*

          Fine. But we’re bringing our healthcare and the metric system with us.

          Also, why do you guys put marshmallows on everything?

          And green beans casserole looks awful.

          And I heard about the chili in a fritos bag and I… I just don’t know if this is going to work, America.

          1. LS*

            esra, I so wish you would bring your healthcare. And all your other social policies.

            Thank god I am moving to the UK soon so I will (finally!) have good, affordable healthcare. Yay, NHS!

              1. Elizabeth West*

                How the hell did that even happen? I really did not expect THAT outcome to the election. I asked my friend in Lincolnshire, “How did you get our Republicans?” and he said, “I don’t know; nobody I know will admit voting for them!”

              1. acmx*

                LOL I’m not against it, just pointing out there’s all sorts of odd sounding junk food. I need to try it one day -there’s a place right up the road that makes it.

                I don’t eat chili and fritos in a bag. But I’ve had it and it’s ok.

                1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  The only time I’ve ever had chili in a Fritos bag has been at boy scout campouts; it’s a simple easy meal for the boys that comes in its own disposable container. I wouldn’t eat it on purpose outside of scouting, though. Well, maybe from the high school ballgame concession, which is the only other context in which I’ve seen it.

          2. Lionness*

            My god, please do bring your healthcare system (to be fair…we’re getting there, albeit slowly) but you can leave metric behind. Assimilation and all that.

            Marshmallows I’ll give you but you need to back down on green bean (no s) casserole. It is, by far, the second best thing to come out of America. The first is freedom, natch.

            Also, chili in a fritos bag is a convenient football game snack. Just try it, you’ll agree.

            1. Mander*

              Is it a regional thing? I’d never heard of it until I saw it on Pinterest a couple of years ago. I grew up in Colorado, if that makes any difference.

              Also, green bean casserole is ugly but delicious. I made it 100% from scratch one year and it was even better. Well, I did buy the fried onions, but I used chestnut mushrooms and fresh beans and it was great.

              1. fposte*

                Yes. There’s a map somewhere of regional preponderance of Thanksgiving side dishes. Mainers apparently do something weird with squash.

                1. neverjaunty*

                  I would love to see that map!

                  There’s a lot of angst here in the SF bay area right now because Dungeness crab season overlaps Thanksgiving, so crab is apparently a big T-day food here (don’t ask me, I’m a transplant), but there’s an algae bloom this year so it isn’t safe to eat.

          3. LizB*

            Don’t knock the chili in a fritos bag until you’ve tried it! I was skeptical too, but it’s actually kind of amazing.

              1. Jean*

                Stopping by to defend the Green Bean Casserole…I hate to admit this, but despite its dreadful appearance (basically, solid gray with bits of grey-green beans and brownish onions) that mushy combination of canned cream-of-mushroom soup, overcooked (canned?) green beans, and canned fried onion bits tastes wonderful.

                On the other hand, I saw an interesting idea in a recent Target circular tucked into my daily newspaper: “Deconstructed bean casserole.” Stack groups of three fresh, just-barely-steamed string beans on a flat serving dish. Drape each stack with a few flourishes of soup. Place a few pieces of fried onion. Oh, and you can also add some fresh sauteed mushrooms. The effect is of multiple trios of string beans “tied” with a “ribbon” of mushroom soup. Looks almost as tasty and far, far more haute cuisine. Not that I’m a foodie!

                1. UK JAM*

                  I just don’t get how canned fried onions are a thing…does no-one fry their own onions in America?

                2. teclatrans*

                  UKJAM, the missing info is that these are dried fried onions. (Freeze-dried, maybe?) So, they are crispy like chips…er, crackers?…sorry, can’t remember the equivalence.

                3. Elizabeth West*

                  I don’t like mushrooms or mushroom soup, so it doesn’t taste nice to me. I’d rather have the green beans themselves steamed with a bit of bacon, onion, and butter on them.

                  One Thanksgiving, my mum, dad, nephew, and I went to my sister’s house near Chicago and my BIL made carrots with butter and lemon. HOLY CRAP THAT WAS GOOD.

              2. The Expendable Redshirt*

                Join Canada as an eleventh province. We have thanksgiving at the appropriate time of year. And poutine. And Nuttela doughnuts.

                1. A Dispatcher*

                  Oh Lionness, you have clearly never had breakfast poutine then. :) There is a restaurant near me that makes it with tater tots instead of fries, this awesome bourbon gravy, cheese curds, fried onion and a poached egg on top. To die for. Though I do like the regular version too

                2. Feline Fine*

                  My US friends are begging me to bring Kinder Eggs when I go down next month. I would, except the fine is up to $5000 each! Sorry.

            1. Nashira*

              Especially with nuclear orange cheddar on top. Trashy, yup, but that perfect combo of greasy, crunchy, spicy, and also salt with a side of salt.

          4. The Expendable Redshirt*

            Right. Why DO they put mashmellows in everything?

            Marshmallows should not be mixed with vegetables. They just shouldn’t.

            1. Weekday Warrior*

              Eh. My very Canadian aunt was the Queen of Ambrosia “salad”. Canned mandarin orange slices, coconut, marshmallow topping – we ate it up. Ironically of course. And it washed away the taste of boiled Brussels sprouts. Green bean salad sounds much better. :)

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                I make a salad that my husband’s grandma and then his mom used to make, and now I’m the one who makes it: one cup each of pineapple, Mandarin oranges, coconut, tiny marshmallows, and sour cream. I’ve made it at every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter for the past twenty years. We call it ‘choogie salad’ because when my son was a toddler he called marshmallows ‘choogies’ and somehow that name stuck for the salad. My husband’s grandmother called it five-cup salad; I think she got it from an old Better Homes and Gardens recipe book a long time ago.

                1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  Yeah, that’s the exact recipe I make. I never knew it was called ambrosia. My MIL just showed me the recipe one year and charged me with making it forever after (which I don’t mind — my whole family likes it and it’s easy to make).

                2. Anonyby*

                  Coming in late, but I have to say because ambrosia salad was my mom’s (and now my) responsibility every year.

                  Ours had two cans of fruit cocktail and one can of mandarin oranges (drained, and with one cherry and six orange slices set aside for decoration), plus one banana and one apple cut up. Then we added lightly-sweetened whipped cream (made pink with the addition of food coloring). It all went into a bowl, a little extra whipped cream to smooth out the top, and then the reserved fruit went in the center as a sunburst/flower pattern. :)

                  We’d add mini marshmallows for Christmas sometimes, but never for Thanksgiving.

            2. Mander*

              I always thought I hated sweet potatoes until I had some that were just baked and served with butter. No idea why we smother them in brown sugar and marshmallows!

          5. Hiding on the Internet Today*

            If you bring reasonable healthcare and the metric system, will show you how to avoid mini marshmallows. (Except in hot chocolate, they belong there.)

          6. Stephanie*

            I used to question the purpose of marshmallows (they taste like fluffy nothing) until I had some homemade ones. Omg.

          7. Chinook*

            And don’t you know the big (football) game is on Sunday not today? It is the finals and even comes with its own cup and they have been partying since Monday.

    3. Lamington*

      I just waited in line to buy some pies for over 1 hour and by the time I paid, all the favorites were gone. Also, the line was around the pie shop. Golly! However I’m happy with my picks but would rather avoid the long wait.

  12. Maxwell Edison*

    At Casa del Edison, our tradition is to have the feast on Friday. That way all our guests spend the day itself with their families and then come over to our house the next day. We’ve been doing this for a few years now and it works out very well. I spend the day itself making the things that can be done ahead and defrosting the turkey, while popping in and out of the MST3K Turkey Day marathon.

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      My grandmother started the Friday Thanksgiving tradition thirty-odd years ago, and it has treated our family well. This year, my mom is hosting her kids and their partners for leg of lamb on Thursday. Then on Friday the whole crew (20-25 of us) meet at my aunt’s for turkey.

    2. hermit crab*

      Yep, we’re doing Family Thanksgiving on Saturday this year due to some scheduling challenges. I’m all for it! Your defrosting + MST3K day sounds fabulous.

  13. Kate*

    Last year I was 35 weeks pregnant at Thanksgiving, and for the first time ever, we decided to stay home. No navigating airport madness to visit family, no driving to visit friends. It was THE.BEST. The calmest, most relaxing thanksgiving I have ever had. So we’re doing it again this year (but with our adorable almost-11-month-old). We will be traveling for Christmas, and that is enough.
    I feel like this makes me sound like a terrible person, but I am introverted (as is my husband), neither of us gets along well with my dad, and my family is small (so not much buffer from my dad) and my husband’s fam is not in the US.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Nope, once you have kids, you get to make your own holiday traditions, and if people want to see you, they can come to you. Enjoy the kiddo, and start making your own Christmas traditions too.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Heck, I’d argue that once you’re living together in a long-term relationship, you should start creating your own family traditions. I have plenty of friends who are childless by choice who are doing that, with or without their families. (Depends on the crazy level in their gene pool.)

        (And I don’t mean to make this into an argument over child-bearing choices, just pointing out that it’s not unreasonable to put your life partner first, even if it’s just the two of you.)

    2. literateliz*

      As a fellow introverted guilt-sufferer, I hereby pronounce you not a terrible person! Have fun :)

    3. Anony-turtle in a half shell!*

      Don’t feel guilty! We don’t have children, but we still choose to do Thanksgiving with just the two of us. Between our jobs and living somewhere that it snows quite a lot and regularly around this time of year, travel to visit either of our families isn’t fun–and we just want to have some down time to ourselves before Christmas.

      Once you become an adult, how you spend the holidays is pretty much up to you. (I realized that when I was 20, and I haven’t forgotten it since.) My choices aren’t dependent on everyone else’s expectations.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        This! You don’t need kids to say, sorry, having my own Tgiving this year, see you at Christmas!

    4. Clever Name*

      We’re having a quiet thanksgiving at home just my husband and I and our 8 year old. It’s been a constant revolving door of relatives staying at out house this fall, and we need a break.

    5. Stephanie*

      One of my favorite Thanksgivings was a Friendsgiving. It was really nice to not have to go anywhere.

    6. Revanche*

      Nearly the same! Timeline was a bit different but we’d been traveling a ton so it was appropriate to stay home at that point. And happily we decided to do the same this year. Yay! I kind of hope to keep doing this.

    7. Artemesia*

      One year when our kids were in college and the friends we often joined for Thanksgiving were traveling to relatives, we decided to hike and picnic on Thanksgiving. We lived in Nashville and it was a warm and pleasant day — so we packed up the goat cheese, a lovely big loaf of olive bread, assorted fancy goodies and wine and hiked up to a waterfall where we ate our repast. It was one of my favorites.

      Now one of my kids does a big ‘practice Thanksgiving’ for all their friends and us 3 weeks before Thanksgiving, so we decided to forego the turkey this year having just had one and will be doing a leg of lamb and a fancy appetizer involve fish dumplings and mornay sauce on a bed of duxelles of mushrooms. The pumpkin pie is however in the over right now.

    8. the gold digger*

      We decided when we got married that we would not travel on the holidays. We spend them at home, alone. If anyone wants to come to our house, fine*. But we are not going to travel.

      * Not really. Fortunately, they don’t.

  14. Valegro*

    Horse vet here on call for the holiday. I’m pretty grateful I don’t feel pressured to travel home in traffic as it takes 6 hours on a good day. We’ll see how it goes, though.

    1. Tatiana*

      People nurse here (home health), on call for part of tonight. Going to cousins tomorrow but I begged off of bringing anything because instead of having today off like I was supposed to, I ran around fixing other people’s problems for half the day. Insert clip of Dante from *Clerks* moaning “I’m not even supposed to be here today!”

  15. literateliz*

    Dear God thank you for this open thread. Holidays are such an angst-fest.

    I don’t go back to my hometown (4 hours by train) for Thanksgiving because my mom is the only family member who still lives there and she works retail. My high school girlfriends, having nice normal families, all either go back for the holiday or still live there. So this year they decide to have a girls sleepover on Friday, I’m excited and say I’ll join. Then, two days before, like clockwork, the Facebook messages start: Oh I forgot our other friends are staying with us this week. Wait so what is happening? Oh I have to do some random errand. Oh I have to watch the dogs. So we’re not doing it anymore? No we are. I’m confused. What?

    This happens every time I make plans with them – since they’re all in town they don’t seem to realize that I go out of my way to see them, and I feel like a total afterthought. After years of this, this time I decided to cancel and thought I would feel good about it… but now I’m feeling wracked with guilt! WTF?

    I may have overreacted, since it seems like they’ll end up getting together anyway and it was just a misunderstanding, but I’m a planner and I’m tired of the angst of “will it happen or won’t it?” every time and would rather look forward to hiking with my boyfriend. Now I look like the flakey drama queen, though. Booo.

    1. RLA*

      Oh, I definitely feel you on this one. I’m only 45 minutes from my hometown, but almost all of my good friends still live there. It feels like there are way too many times we try to make group plans, only for them to fall apart at the last minute. Then I have to be the one to say “hey guys, I have to drive for this so pretty please let me know if this is *actually* happening” and it’s still tough to get an answer.

    2. Dan*

      I’m a planner too. My ex’s family was very, um, “spontaneous” which drove me completely bonkers. There were times where I had to tell her that I need to know by X what we are doing, or we are making our own plans. Even if those plans are nothing. If something happens to materialize, you’re more than welcome to go, but you have to understand that I may not be willing.

      Reason #101 that the ex is the ex.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The more people involved in the process the harder the process is. Ask a group of five people to pick out a restaurant, it’s a process that can take hours. We use to take day trips with a vehicle loaded with seven people. We could only stop at one or two places in a day because it took that long for seven people to go through the place. By the time we got through the second place it was time to think about dinner. I can’t complain, we had fun. But I did marvel at how long it took to do EVERY SINGLE THING.

      Literateliz, if you feel that bad, you could just decide to do as they do. Tell them you have changed your mind/suddenly become freed-up/whatever and join them. There is always trade-offs when we try to do things with a group.

      1. Mander*

        Oh man, this is my family every time they come to visit me in the UK. They always have this crazy long list of things they want to do but even there were no distractions and we did every museum etc. at maximum efficiency there is just no way that it can all happen in the time they have. And we are definitely not maximum efficiency people! It has been the source of many meltdowns on my poor husband’s part. We have finally learned that we just have to tell everyone what we are going to do, rather than trying to make decisions on the fly. Otherwise we spend the whole trip shrugging our shoulders about what to do and not actually going anywhere.

        1. Chinook*

          “Oh man, this is my family every time they come to visit me in the UK. They always have this crazy long list of things they want to do but even there were no distractions and we did every museum etc. at maximum efficiency there is just no way that it can all happen in the time they have.”

          This is why I liked it when the Irish cousins would come and visit us in Alberta. Once we explained to them that a day trip to Toronto or Vancouver wasn’t feasible, we would drive them 1.5 hours west and go “mountains” and let them ooh and aaah and shop in the mountain town. Then we would point out the mountain goats licking salt off the highway as we drive them up to the hot springs, remind them not to pat the elk or deer that hang out in the parking lot (because they only look tame). Then, on our way back to the car, thoroughly soaked in hot, stinking like the fires of hell (i.e. sulfur) fresh water, we tell them to walk quietly due to the black bear we may (or may not) see in the trees. Home by 5 pm and we have knocked off a bunch of once-in-a-lifetime experiences and still have time to chat.

      2. Artemesia*

        even when we had just our two adult kids with us in Europe we would split up for lots of things — quality one on one time AND a herd of people, even a herd of 4 takes forever to do anything. We go out a lot with friends — the way it works is someone says ‘let’s go to X and get dinner at Y first’ and everyone else says ‘sure’ unless they really hate the restaurant or something. That way we don’t get into long back and forths about where to go. We have ended up with specialists e.g. one of our friends does most of the play picking and another most of the concert picking etc. I love knowing people who follow this stuff and then I don’t have to.

  16. A Dispatcher*

    Wanted to say thanks for working to all my fellow public safety people and first responders who may be reading, to all of the healthcare workers, the retail employees, those who work the various athletic events going on tomorrow, and anyone else who spends a little less time with their families this holiday to make everyone else’s day better. I am very lucky to have it off this year, but will be pulling 16s Christmas Eve and Day right along with you!

    1. KAZ2Y5*

      I work night shift in a hospital, and sadly my night shift falls on both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. It will be a couple of years before my shift rotates off the holidays, but once it happens it will be glorious!

    2. BananaPants*

      My husband works in healthcare and got to request whether he’d rather work Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. He chose Thanksgiving so as to have Christmas off, so he’ll be working tomorrow. It’s not the end of the world; he gets double time and a half! Thanksgiving is pretty low key for our family and we don’t travel; we have dinner at the home of our family friends and that’s about it, so the kids and I will go there and bring him a plate of leftovers.

      He works 2nd shift and his normal work schedule has him working Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and Day. I’m actually worried about him driving home on New Year’s Eve (at 11:30 PM) with all the damned drunks on the road, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

      1. A Dispatcher*

        23:30 shouldn’t be too bad… it’s after midnight that tends to be more of an issue.

        I work 2300-0700 normally, will be working 1500-0700 Christmas Eve into day and then back in to do it again at 1500. 2300-0300 on New Years is quite possibly the worst shift in the world though. I hate it and will beg borrow and steal to get coworkers to switch shifts with me. I don’t even want to go out, I just don’t want to be fielding calls/dispatching my VERY busy city police channel.

      1. Sourire*

        Yes, much slower, with the caveat that I haven’t worked the 7pm to 11pm shift on either eve or day, this year will be my first. I suspect it picks up a bit then in terms of domestics (family getting together and drinking, oh what fun), but still less call volume than most days.

        I almost feel like I’m stealing money when I work 7am-11am Christmas morning, it’s that dead.

        1. Chinook*

          “I almost feel like I’m stealing money when I work 7am-11am Christmas morning, it’s that dead.”

          Strangely enough, that was the one thing DH got called for last Christmas morning – someone trying to steal money.

      2. ActCasual*

        I second the sentiments. Everyone working the holidays (16-hour shifts, yikes!) has my gratitude and respect and well-wishes.

        In answer to your question, Allison, it really varies. I’ve been a dispatcher for 18 years and some holidays were crazy busy. Some were duds. I remember one of the first Thanksgivings I worked, we had so many domestics and family disturbances and drunk people I couldn’t believe it. My family’s always been very reserved and I had no idea people let it all hang out like that. Especially on Thanksgiving, clutch the pearls!

        It’s not terrible working the holidays, there’s a real sense of camaraderie and people bring in food, the fire department at my old agency used to cook us a huge meal, officers come in to visit, if it’s slow we binge-watch movies. I tip my hat to you, A Dispatcher, for those 16- hour shifts!

        1. A Dispatcher*

          Oh yeah, holidays other than Christmas are definitely hit or miss. Thanksgiving and black friday can go either way, Halloween is very dependent on whether or not it’s on a weekend and the weather (here at least), 4th of July and New Years are always pretty insane (well at least the night shift on New Years, the New Years day is pretty slow for us, akin to Christmas morning). I’m sure it all varies based on the shift you work and where you live though.

      3. Florida*

        Dr G., who recently retired as the medical examiner of my city, says that Christmas Day is the most popular day of the year for dying. You know, you start to have chest pains but you don’t want to ruin everyone’s Christmas by going to the ER or calling 911 so you die from a heart attack.

        After I heard that I also imagine dispatchers sitting by the phones on Christmas reading books while everyone is at home dying. I’m sure that’s not exactly accurate but it was the image that came to mind.

        1. fposte*

          This reminds me of one of my favorite ghost stories ever, Robert Westall’s “The Call,” which is about a spooky Christmas Eve caller to the Samaritans. It’s also got a poignant streak that makes me cry.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Ooh, I’m intrigued! I love a good ghost story; I just ordered the book from Amazon. I tried to find it for Nook or Kindle, but it wasn’t available digitally. I can’t wait until the book comes!

        2. Artemesia*

          My stepgrandfather died on Christmas Eve and I think that is what happened; he didn’t want to spoil the holiday and so didn’t complain until it was too late. He kinda did though.

      4. Chinook*

        DH is on call for all RCMP media duties in Alberta for Christmas and New Year’s and, if this year is anything like last year, he is guaranteed to have to report on atleast one drunken family fight that involves bodily harm and possibly some idiot trying to attempt a bank robbery when the bank is closed (our criminals aren’t the brightest around here). The biggest issues he sees are drunk drivers during the day and family brawls after 7 pm (enough time to have eaten dinner and argued). He says the hardest days are a day or two after the holidays because they usually get called in to suicides at that point because people have had time to contemplate how alone they are.

  17. Lionness*

    Happy thanksgiving, ya’ll. And please, try to remember the things you are grateful for on Friday. Be kind to our retail workers and fellow shoppers. And, of course, consider supporting locally owned shops when you can.

    1. ActCasual*

      Hear, hear. No trampling, it’s only “stuff.” Also a huge thank-you to the streets workers/snowplow drivers who are out there, sometimes all night and all day on the holiday, making the roads safe for all of us. You are so appreciated.

  18. SL #2*

    Worked a half-day today, will be getting the brownie batter ready tonight for a quick bake tomorrow morning, and then it’s off to my relatives’ house with the rest of my entirely-too-large extended family for Thanksgiving lunch. And then… I am definitely part of the Black Friday problem, since I will be at Target at 5:30 pm on Thanksgiving and waiting for them to open… retail workers, I hope all of you have good shifts this weekend.

    1. A Dispatcher*

      I just got home from Target – I refuse to shop black friday so I have heard of the madness but have never seen it, and therefore I was SO shocked to see just how long they are expecting the lines to be. They have it set up to snake through pretty much the entire beauty/health section all the way down to petcare, so like 20 aisles. Crazy!

      1. SL #2*

        I’ve been going on opening day (whenever that is) for the last two or three years and it’s never been too crazy. I’ve seen my Target worse on a regular Sunday.

        The absolute craziest thing I’ve ever seen/done has been the sprint to the electronics section in the back and then they put you in a line and you go to the electronics counter and order whatever you want. You can pay right there as well.

      2. Mander*

        Yeah, aside from my ideological complaints about black Friday, I just can’t imagine wanting to buy anything badly enough to stand in line that long for it!

      1. Jenny*

        Thanks!! I guess now I HAVE to watch King of the Hill and WKRP thanksgiving episodes…as well as venture out to buy food for tomorrows dinner!

  19. Distant Traveler*

    Any advice for those of us (AKA me) away from family for the first time this Thanksgiving, after moving several states away for a new job? I’ve got friends to celebrate with, so at least I’m taken care of on that front. Not that my family ever made Thanksgiving too big a production, but I’m not sure how I’ll react when the reality of being away on a major holiday sets in. I intentionally had a good cry when I got home today in hopes that I won’t have an emotional meltdown in front of anyone tomorrow.

    1. SL #2*

      My first and only Thanksgiving away from home was when I was living on the opposite coast, in a city where it SNOWED. For the record, I’m from Southern California. So I couldn’t even fool myself into thinking I was home. The best thing I did for myself was what you’ve already done, which is Friendsgiving! We had a large, elaborate, traditional dinner (Formal attire! Name tents!), so it took my mind off being away because I was cooking, and then eating (and getting really drunk) with friends all day long. Distraction and keeping yourself surrounded by positive people was the key in my situation.

    2. KH*

      It’s ok to take a break in the middle of the festivities, if you feel emotional. I’ve been known in the past to just quietly excuse myself and go outside for a moment of peace – or even hide in the bathroom for a bit. And I have had guests in my house come to me quietly and say they need a moment to get away from the crowd and I’ve taken them into my study or my bedroom and just let them be until they were ready to come back and be social. A good host/hostess will totally understand and make the appropriate excuse for you if need be.

    3. Dorth Vader*

      If it’ll help, try to call them while people are gathered (if that’s what your family does). My uncle and cousins did every year and we’d pass the phone around to everyone for about 15-20 minutes. I always incorporate my family’s snickerdoodle recipe somehow; maybe if your family has a traditional recipe for something (and you have the space and time) try doing something with that? And if you do end up crying, don’t feel bad! I’m sure your friends will understand and may have some of the same feelings. Happy Thanksgiving!

    4. OfficePrincess*

      This will be my first year going “home” for thanksgiving/Christmas in 5 years, though my parents came to visit a couple of the thanksgivings. Honestly, expect it to be rough (the good cry tonight was a good idea), but think about the new traditions you can start. Meal with friends, Netflix marathon, mulled cider and a good book etc. If you decide to call family and check in, do it once either early or late in the day. Don’t torture yourself thinking “right now they’re carving the turkey” “now it’s time for aunt Ida’s pumpkin pie” “I wonder what offensive tangent uncle rupert has gone off on. Surely he must have by now”. Focus on what you are doing and the memories that you’re making on your own. Good luck!

      1. OfficePrincess*

        Oh, and if there’s a particular relative that you KNOW will lay a guilt trip on you, it’s ok to avoid contacting them.

    5. Distant Traveler*

      Thanks for the support, all! It helps to hear, even from strangers, that I’m not alone in this. I’m fortunate to have good friends here who I’m sure will be supportive if I’m having a hard time and family who won’t guilt-trip me about not visiting (although of course that triggers the ‘why don’t you care enough to want me home?’ thoughts). But I’ll make it through.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am not saying it will be easy, but I think you will have a few pleasant little surprises, such as laughing your butt off with your friends telling stories or catching yourself truly enjoying that pie/stuffing/whatever. Very seldom are these things totally bad.

        You are very wise though to do that preemptive cry. And if you need to cry some more, then so be it, push those tears out. Life is a mixed bag, we don’t have just one emotion at a time. It’s okay to have some good laughs with friends and then sneak off to sob a little. This is the way life can be sometimes.

    6. CanadianStudent*

      I grew up in the States, but went to university in Canada. So I was 18 years old and away from home for the first time and missing a major holiday. It was tough. The most important thing for me was to just acknowledge that it was emotionally difficult. I had a lot of tearful phone calls with my family and high school friends that weekend. But the people around me were really sweet about making me feel better. My mom sent my roommate money so we could go to the movies and get pie at a bakery, which was really kind of both of them.

      The next year was a lot better, but now I’m the world’s biggest Thanksgiving fan because I missed so many of them. So just do what you enjoy, but it’s ok to acknowledge that it’s not where you want to be today.

    7. The Cosmic Avenger*

      The first time I worked through the holidays, my girlfriend (before she was my wife) and I decided that, since I’d be working, she might as well go see her family for TG. I rented a bunch of videotapes, got myself a big takeout dinner, and kind of enjoyed the change of pace.

      I know you’re missing your family, but if you can treat yourself to something you don’t normally do, that’s both a good way to mark the holiday and to distract yourself from what you’re missing.

    8. Liz*

      I’m in a similar situation, just without the friends nearby also. They all went home for the weekend.

      I’m interning across the country and our office is not closed tomorrow. intern = no paid time off = me in the office providing ~coverage~

      Basically I see today as a bonus day off. I slept in, some cleaning will be done, and then I’m going to volunteer this evening at my usual weekend place. I normally can’t go in during the week because of work hours, so they get a bonus few hours from me today.

  20. Dorth Vader*

    My husband has to work tomorrow (meteorologists never sleep or get holidays), so today I baked some pumpkin brownies for him to take in. And because he’s working, AND has to work Christmas Eve/Boxing Day, I don’t have to travel to see my family. I tell ya, sometimes it’s great to have the built-in excuse! I get to make foods I like with people I like and I don’t have to drink just to get through the meal.
    I hope everyone has a wonderful day, no matter where you are in the world, and that you get to spend it/go home to people who love and care about you.

  21. hermit crab*

    Speaking of giving thanks, I have a thank-you note etiquette question! I got married like three months ago, and my husband and I sent thank-you notes to everyone within a few weeks (regardless of whether the guest had given us a gift). Now we are starting to get gifts from people to whom we have already written “thank you so much for coming to celebrate with us” notes. Do we send another “official” thank-you note? Is an email or phone call OK? Given the time of year, should we send them a holiday card and mention our thanks in there? We can’t not acknowledge that we received their gift, but double thank-you note-ing seems awkward. Suggestions appreciated!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m a stickler for thank you notes, so… yeah, I think the gifts need separate notes. But you can couch them in holiday cards– IF those cards have handwritten messages. I think that would be ok. Also: I applaud you for writing your notes in a timely manner, because thank you notes are actually awesome to receive and people do far too much bitching and moaning about them, in my opinion.

    2. A Dispatcher*

      I like the holiday card idea and would go with that, but am curious what others would say about gifts you may receive once the holidays have passed (hopefully very few stragglers will be that late though). I do think for wedding gifts it really should be a formal written thank you, so I suppose I’d deal with the awkward and send another.

      Guess this is one of the few times when promptness does not pay off :/

    3. Andrea*

      1. You need to send a separate thank you card for the gift.
      2. The thanks for coming card may have made your guests feel rushed to give you a gift, since these are not common and feel like you are closing out the wedding with a note no one is expecting. People have a year to send a gift.
      3. You hosted the wedding. Hosts do not send people written thank you for attending. It goes the other way around. I would find it passive aggressive to get such a note, since typically notes are sent to acknowledge gifts after a wedding. It would feel like a “sigh, thanks for nothing” note and not what you intended.

      1. hermit crab*

        Hmm, that’s what I was worried about (#2 and #3). However, we didn’t register for anything and made it clear that we didn’t want/expect gifts, so hopefully nobody got the wrong idea from our thank-you notes.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I think your “thank you for celebrating with us” notes are fine, especially if they were super personalized (which I’m sure they were). I wouldn’t find that passive aggressive, I would find that sweet. Weddings are so fraught these days, and so many people treat them as transactional occasions… I, personally, would love to be reminded that I was invited to attend out of love/good feelings than out of some kind of obligation to entertain.

      2. Polka dot bird*

        It’s actually traditional to send the present before the wedding, and best practice to send it within a month or two. So a few weeks out is probably a little soon for notes.

        1. fposte*

          You *can* send it before the wedding, but, as noted, tradition gives you up to a year afterwards to send it. (And I doubt anybody is going to turn a present away if it comes later than that, either.)

      3. CMT*

        Etiquette is not written in stone and not exactly following rules made up a couple hundred years ago by well-to-do white people in Western Europe about outdated customs doesn’t make you a bad person.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I would send another thank you note. My reasoning would be they want to know 1) did you receive it and 2) do you like it. If that still feels weird to you, then just decide that it is two separate things that you are thanking them for. You thanked them for coming. And now you are thanking them for their gift. People love to know that they did something meaningful for you. Let them know.

      1. Hiding on the Internet Today*

        I agree here.

        Also I love writing thank you notes, taking a little time to focus on someone I love and being grateful for them in my life and all they do for me. Extra gratitude isn’t going to hurt anyone.

        I also did my wedding thank you notes very quickly (dropped in the mail before we left for the honeymoon, but super tiny invite list). Personal notes sincerely thanking people for coming to support my husband and I were well received, we had also made it pretty clear that we wanted attendance more than things to unwrap. People who know you know what you mean.

    5. Liane*

      Ages ago, Miss Manners suggested a wording that is gracious but leaves the question of whether you sent one at the time vague. It was something like,
      “Dear Leia,
      The spaceship polish was great. We still keep the commemorative tin on display and think of you every time we see it.”

    6. Chinook*

      I say you do have to send a thank you note. Not only is it polite, but it is a good way for them to know you received it. When I did mine up, I had a gift that was sent but had no name attached to it (thank you, gift registry). My grandmother asked a month later why I hadn’t sent a thank you to my cousin and I was able to put two and two together and finish up my last card.

    7. Observer*

      Send them a thank you note. If they took the time / money to send a gift, it’s just polite to acknowledge that on its own.

  22. KH*

    Full on cooking frenzy going on here. I’m trying to get as much done tonight as I can so that only the turkeys (yes, 2 of them) and the stuff that can’t be pre-cooked have to be dealt with tomorrow.

    I enjoy cooking, though, and I get to feed people who appreciate it, so this is a labor of love for me.

    I’m looking forward to wine, football, food, and PIE tomorrow. :)

  23. MsChanandlerBong*

    No angst here. My husband and I have it down to a science. I send his relatives greeting cards about 10 days before Thanksgiving. Then on Thanksgiving itself, he texts his dad to say “Happy Thanksgiving.” Completely eliminates the need to talk to anyone. (There’s a narcissist on his side of the family, so we are “no contact” with his father and his wife.)

    I did most of my prep work today. Sweet potato casserole is ready to bake, green bean casserole is done, made my cheesecake (with chocolate crumb crust) last night, made homemade strawberry topping for said cheesecake this morning, and the remainder of my evening will involve making yeast rolls and stuffing. All I have to do tomorrow is warm the casseroles/rolls and roast the chickens.

    1. StarHopper*

      Is that the only way to deal with narcissists? My stepmother hasn’t spoken to me or my husband in 5 years due to a perceived slight from years ago. She even ignored my child last Thanksgiving. It’s a big family shindig at my aunt’s house every year, 2 hours away, and everyone pretends it’s not happening.

      I go every year so I can see my extended family, and because I want my son to know them, but I wonder what it would be like if I just… opted out.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I’ve found it’s only effective way to deal with this *particular* narcissist. I don’t know if it’s the best way to deal with all of them. For five years, I tried like hell to please her. I complimented her constantly, helped market the family business, helped out with their manufacturing company (for free) when my FIL was hospitalized, and bent over backwards to include her in family activities. She is the type of person who thinks you’re wonderful as long as you are paying attention to her and doing whatever she wants. The second you’re not fawning all over her, you’re on the “naughty list.” This is a woman who, before I even married my husband, thought she could call me and scream at me on the phone. She is also really good at gaslighting us and trying to make us think we said things that we never said. I haven’t spoken to her in almost two years. My sin? I asked her if she could please lower her voice and not scream at me the last time we talked on the phone. I never raised my voice, used foul language, or behaved in a nasty way. I simply asked to be treated with respect, and that was enough to send her over the edge.

      2. Kimmy*

        Yes. No Contact is the only way to deal with narcissists. There’s a great book, Psychopath Free, that explains why really well.

        1. Shan*

          I was very close to a narcissist and it was getting worse and becoming a big problem. I was really depressed. It took me two years after making the decision to cut her off to officially go full no-contact, but I did it. It’s been just about a year now, and I have been happier than ever – like my depression completely went away. My only regret is not doing it sooner.

      3. Small Creatures Such As We*

        I think it IS the only way to deal with narcissists. Or at least, to have impenetrable boundaries and be willing to cut contact when she violates them (and narcissists WILL). I know that when your family is mostly normal, you may see “wanting your son to know them” as priority #1. But sooner or later, she will probably go after him for some perceived slight too. When that inevitably happens, you should not feel guilty about protecting your son from her personality disorder. Her BS is not a reflection on you, it’s just a consequence of her personality disorder.

        I say this because my mom’s bio mom is a narcissist (Mom’s bio mom “raised” her to adulthood, but Mom would have been better off raised by wolves). I was thankful when my bio grandmother died, because she couldn’t hurt my mom any more. Cold? Maybe, but bio grandma blatantly played favorites (and switched who the favorites were regularly). And I swear to God, bio grandma loved her dogs more than she loved her 5 children or her many grandchildren. I save my empathy for her adult children.

        Don’t feel guilty for opting out. You are never going to get any kind of normal response from a narcissist.

      4. The Cosmic Avenger*

        The narcissist will never respect the boundaries or wishes of others; cutting off contact may be the only way to prevent those boundaries from being violated. But in many ways they act like toddlers, so they may start respecting your boundaries in order to simply get new opportunities to test the limits of your resolve. Repeated boundary enforcement might even get them to stop trying, although that’s pretty rare.

        1. The Itsy Bitsy Spider*

          My mother is textbook narcissist and it took me two therapists to finally break contact. One diagnosed sociopath from afar. My husband met her once and for him that was enough. My life would have continued to be hell if I engaged with her at all. I am grateful for my present mental and emotional health.

          1. Tris Prior*

            I have the same issue and am thankful I found an excellent therapist with whom I am starting to work through this stuff. I really want to go no contact but always wonder if that is legal (haha!!) to do to a parent who is elderly and has no one else to care for her should she become sick or injured, and no means to pay for help. She once stopped speaking to me for a month and it was the most peaceful month of my adult life – like I got a taste of emotional health!

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              We actually have been talking about this on The Gold Digger’s blog recently. There are plenty of older people who don’t have anyone to look after them, and there are services in place to help them, so theoretically if you weren’t around she wouldn’t necessarily be any worse off than them. If that doesn’t make you feel any better, you could contact social services in her area using the Eldercare Locator, or find a geriatric care manager in her area and pay them to arrange everything for her.

              1. Tris Prior*

                I will have to check out her blog; I’ve been meaning to. My mother refuses help from anyone except me (this started when my father, who had dementia, was still alive) and I’ve learned that you can’t force someone to accept help they do not want. It really sucks and puts adult children in an impossible position!

    2. Andrea*

      What was the precipitating incident to cut the narcissist off, if you don’t mind sharing. I catch crap for setting similar boundaries with an impossible family member.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I don’t mind at all. Other than me asking her not to scream at me on the phone, there really wasn’t one incident. It was just the stress of dealing with her. She’s an insecure bully who has to cut everyone down to feel good about herself. Until I told her off (and again, I never raised my voice or said anything nasty; I just said I would not continue speaking with her unless she could do so without yelling), I had never stood up for myself in my life. I just decided I didn’t want to be treated badly when I didn’t do anything to deserve it.

  24. M.*

    thru the powers of facebook, a whole thanksgiving dinner was donated to me today. I now have a 14 lb turkey, and it’s just me. I do not even know how to cook this turkey as I’ve never been able to afford one. Tomorrow is so going to be interesting now. I’m so grateful for all the strangers who continually help me out.

    1. Lionness*

      There is a lot of advice out there about how to cook turkey. I don’t do anything fancy. I rub a little butter under the skin and over the skin then pop it in the oven and watch it closely. Baste often to keep it moist

      As someone who regularly cooks a whole turkey for 1-2 people….turkey freezes really well. Cut it up, put it in small freezer bags and it’ll last months (and think of all the great sandwiches!).

        1. Lionness*

          You can! Just scoop up some drippings with the spoon and pour it over the breasts. They are your biggest concern. You want to keep them moist. If it starts to look dry, cover it with foil (tent it, don’t let the foil lay on the turkey).

          And remember: gravy solves everything.

        2. LisaLee*

          Sure, it might be a little difficult to get the juices out of the pan with a spoon though. You could supplement with a little melted butter if you can’t get up enough pan juice.

      1. JessaB*

        I know some people think margarines and stuff are the devil, but I actually use cinnamon Shedd’s spread on my turkey and it’s awesome and it makes the skin crisp nicely.

    2. Shan*

      If you get stuck, Butterball has a Turkey Talk Line to answer questions! I’ve used it before, a sweet old lady told me exactly how long to cook my first turkey :) They’re open 7a-7p EST tomorrow. 1-800-BUTTERBALL (1-800-288-8372)

    3. misspiggy*

      Take it out of the oven and rest it tented in foil for at least half an hour, during which time it will keep gently cooking. Pour any juices from the resting plate into your gravy. Hope you have a wonderful dinner!

    4. Mander*

      If it’s your first time cooking a bird that big, I’d advise you to cook the stuffing separately. It’s too easy for it to not get cooked properly if you actually stuff it, and then you run the risk of food poisoning.

      Also if you are OK with pulling the skin away from the meat (a messy and somewhat gruesome job), I’ve had good luck with stuffing seasoned butter under the skin and not bothering with basting. I’d still do the foil thing if you go this route.

      1. Artemesia*

        Let me second the carcas soup thing After you have the turkey sandwiches and casseroles and such strip the rest of the little bits of turkey meat form the bird and boil the carcas with an onion, bay leaves, pepper and other herbs you like. We simmer it for a couple of hours. Reserve the meat when you strip it so you don’t cook it to death. Then strain and keep the stock and make soup with rice and the rest of the meat and veggies etc. I think the things we do with the bones are the best parts of the holiday ham or turkey. For hams, we make lentils or split pea soup from the bones.

        Poultry can be very economical. e.g. My husband and I bought a rotisserie chicken in France and had chicken thighs for dinner, then chicken the next day, then creamed chicken on rice and then we boiled up the carcas and made a heart chicken, rice, veggie soup from the stock and the reserved bits of meat picked from the bones. That was 4 meals for two from one largeish chicken.
        I stew chickens here at home and usually also can get a couple of meals of chicken and dumplings, and then a couple of casseroles out of a chicken.

  25. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I had a hell of a Monday at work and didn’t sleep Monday night, so I put my foot down over the past two days and only did stuff I felt like doing (work-wise). Today I went into work for a couple of hours, then my boyfriend and I took our doggy to daycare for the weekend. We dropped him off and decided to have Indian buffet for lunch, then I came home and did NOTHING. Well, ok, I answered a few emails. Our house is clean, we leave for Florida tomorrow, and I’m chillin’. It’s a little weird, though, to look over at the dog’s bed and not see him curled up with his toys.

    I have a headache, though. I am trying to resolve this before tomorrow, as a) I don’t want to fly with a headache, and b) there will be lots and lots of yummy wine at my cousin’s place and I plan to drink plenty of it.

    1. Revanche*

      Oh hey, you decided on Florida! (You were debating what to do this year between your cousin and BF’s father, right?) Have the best time and I hope you kick that headache soon!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Ha, yup! We decided on Florida pretty darn quickly. I’m looking so forward to it, but this headache is STILL AROUND, so I’m doing what I can to break it. It’s a combo of dehydration and stuffiness, but my biggest problem is always that I wake up with these things and can’t shake them for hours. Blerg.

  26. Gandalf the Nude*

    I finally caught my partner’s cold this week and am stuck at home instead of traveling to spend Thanksgiving with the family. Cons – this cold is the worst, I’m missing quality sister time, and every year could be the last chance to have my grandmother’s gravy. Pros – I won’t have to get into why I’m not getting married /having kids/celebrating Christmas anymore, get to watch the game without hassle, and can sleep in my own bed.

    1. Liz in a Library*

      Ugh…we’ve got a bad cold too, so you have my sympathy.

      I am desperately hoping to wake up feeling well enough to go out tomorrow. We have two dinners we are supposed to attend tomorrow, two more Friday, and one on Saturday (yay for lots of family who don’t get along with one another)…

    1. SL #2*

      So good! I can’t believe this slipped through my Medium radar.

      On a related note, this article hits on why I actually really enjoy small talk. So many of my friends disdain it (it might also be because I’m rather extroverted while many of my friends are introverts) and I always find myself explaining, “it’s the polite thing to do!” when they bemoan that they have to talk about, god forbid, the weather with a stranger.

      1. fposte*

        And it’s a craft, so it’s fun to do it well. It makes me think of Edith Evans’ description of comedy as “shooting powder puffs out of cannons.” Ready, aim, fire gentle missile!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Thanks for the share, that was a good read. Part of what goes with politeness is an appearance of fairness. It takes time for the appearance of fairness to be recognized as actual fairness. Crock pot vs microwave. I am amazed by the number of people I meet that say, “I don’t agree with this other person, but I can see where this other person is trying to be fair.” People have respect for the effort.
      And it all starts with etiquette. The point of having social rules started with the idea that people would know what to expect and no one would feel awkward, a level playing field.

      1. fposte*

        Yes. I also loved the fact that he notes how much cool stuff you hear when you give other people a good chance to talk.

    3. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      Oh, I love this so much. I know this isn’t a work thread so I apologize, but I can’t resist. but one thing we always say to our new people about how to treat out clients is “we always use good manners here” and “approach people like they are an honored guest in your home”. Offer something to drink and a snack, ask if they found us okay, and point out the restroom. And for heaven sake, smile. People wouldn’t be using our service unless something difficult was going on in their life. It’s amazing the difference this makes to everyone, including the person remembering to use their manners. And very few clients decide to free that inner rude person when things start out this way.

  27. Searching*

    I always have to think back to one of our first Thanksgivings in our then-new house: our oven broke – with the rolled stuffed turkey breast roasting in it. And I didn’t realize it at first, just thought that darn thing was taking an awful long time getting done. I think we ended up finishing cooking that thing in the microwave :)

    1. Sydney Bristow*

      I caught a pie on fire once. I’d been making French bread under the broiler and forgot to turn our gas oven from broil to bake. My dad was convinced that we could still eat it and tried to make me feel better. It tasted really strongly of smoke. To this day, I don’t like to eat things with a smokey flavor because it Tastes like that pie.

      1. Liz in a Library*

        My sister made a pumpkin pie from scratch one year (impressing the hell out of me, as I’m an awful baker). As she was pulling it out of the oven, she dropped the whole thing in the bottom of the oven. When she pulled it out, there was only enough pie to cover like 1 cm deep, so she topped the whole thing with several inches of whipped cream and sent it out.

        She also decided to just turn on the self clean rather than try to scoop the spilled pie out. I am imagining your pie smelling like the horrid hellscape that was her apartment after that.

    2. Artemesia*

      My mother’s first Thanksgiving in a new house in 1941, the power went out half way through cooking the bird. It was a new housing area and this was the first big demand on the local grid and it blew the transformer. My mother made a reflector oven of foil and cardboard and used the fireplace to finish cooking the bird (we had no bbq back then). My father’s contribution was finally taking my annoying grandfather for a nice long drive to get him out of her hair. Or so I have been told — before I was born.

      Last Christmas in an AirBNB in LA we discovered that the oven was broken. Luckily my son had a smoker he could haul over from his storage unit and they smoked the turkey and it was totally fabulous.

  28. Katie the Fed*

    I accidentally invited my boss to Thanksgiving today. He mentioned that he was just going to order Chinese and watch football and was joking about not being invited, and I was like “awww no, you have to come over! Come on by!”

    And now I realize how completely awkward that would be. ACK! He didn’t respond by the time I’d left work.

    1. SL #2*

      My boss actually invited us to her family Thanksgiving (we declined), but it was done as a kind gesture and I actually really appreciated it even though all 3 of us staffers have local family. But yes, the awkwardness would’ve been too much to handle!

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I invited my employees – always do. Actually two of them took me up on it this year so that’ll be fun. Also why my own boss coming would be that much weirder!

  29. Fantasma*

    Because of various work things, I’m spending Thanksgiving with my dog instead of my family several states away. On Saturday, I hosted a Friendsgiving potluck for 25 that was really fun and had a ton of delicious food. So I feel that’s a pretty good celebration.

    Hope everyone who celebrates enjoys the holiday!

  30. Deirdre*

    We celebrate this holiday perfectly for ourselves. We give ourselves the day off – from everyone and everything.
    – thanksgiving morning, we have a fire in the fireplace and watch parades.
    – we walk our wonderful dog
    – we take naps
    – my husband makes homemade bread and we snack on his bread, cheese, and salami. we spend the day snacking Hors d’oeuvres. we may or may not have a dinner. we always have wine.
    -we may or may not shower.
    – we read and are quiet.
    – friends are totally welcome.
    It is heaven. Family is FaceTime or Lync. We send love on Facebook or phone calls. We take care of ourselves. No drama.

    1. hermit crab*

      Oh my gosh, that sounds amazing. Hors d’oeuvres (with wine, plus or minus reading) are the best part of any party — you can take or leave the actual dinner. Have a great day!

      1. Deirdre*

        well if you lived closer, you would be welcome here! we have opened our home for years – influenced heavily by the Navy.

        enjoy, however you spend your time!

    2. Ihmmy*

      this is how my mom, her partner and I do xmas usually. we call it ‘nibblish’. thou shalt eat, drink and be nerdy. so snacks, cheese and crackers and charcuterie and such everywhere, wine sipped, and usually reading or watching a documentary together, and I bring my dogs over to visit her dogs too. It is totally the best.

  31. SaraV*

    So on another message board I participate in, a thread was started about those traditional Thanksgiving foods you don’t like. For instance, my list is:

    1)Pumpkin pie
    2) Green bean casserole
    3) Cranberry sauce/salad

    Anyone else have similar avoidances?

    1. fposte*

      Stuffing. I don’t know if it’s that I grew up with giblet stuffing and fear that variety meats may be lurking in there or I just don’t like it, but I leave it for everybody else.

    2. acmx*

      I’m not all that into Thanksgiving dinner. My BIL makes a casserole from the leftovers that I prefer.
      We do an apple pie and not pumpkin (not sure I’ve even had it before). I don’t like cranberry sauce either.

    3. hermit crab*

      I’ve never liked cranberry sauce. I’m fine with cranberries as a fruit (like, in a dessert or something), but why would you put cold jiggly sour mushy things on top of perfectly fine savory foods?

      1. The Expendable Redshirt*

        Please explain why there are marshmallows mixed with vegetables. This is an unholy culinary union.

        1. LAMM*

          THIS! My step-dad’s family claimed it wasn’t a real holiday without this concoction. My brother and I stayed far, far away from it.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          “Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down…..”

          The sugar makes it taste better.

        3. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          When I got married, my husband was adamant that sweet potatoes were disgusting. As it turns out, he hates marshmallows. Same with asparagus: he hates canned asparagus. And spinach: he likes it fine if it’s not been boiled with ham bones for two hours. It’s the deep-south version of veggies that he objects to – he just didn’t know they came another way.

          1. Artemesia*

            My favorite sweet potato recipe is mashed with lime juice (lots) and honey and then topped with a little creme fraiche — really good. I liked baked marshmallows and don’t hate them on sweet potatoes, but this other dish is better. Sweet potatoes are pretty much the same thing as pumpkin pie which is made with sugar and eggs — you can make a pumpkin pie with sweet potatoes and it will be indistinquishable than one made from pumpkin.

            I have never been able to like brussels sprouts; we have many friends who make them and I pretty much hate them every time. That greenbean casserole is gross and it is usually topped with canned onions which I cannot eat, so that lets me out of it.

            Love cranberries either in a ground relish with whole orange or cooked — we have some in the icebox during the entire season they are available — it is great in place of jam on toast, with cottage cheese, or just as a sidedish.

            Our go to veggie is steamed broccoli florettes tossed with dijon mustard and olive oil — dead simple and sort of fancy and very tasty.

            And there will be potatoes roasted in duck fat.

      2. olympiasepiriot*

        The fruit-on-meat thing is a pretty common thing in a lot of places. But, so-called cranberry sauce that is more like strawberry jello is weird to me, too. My favorite thing for this is a cranberry relish made with raw cranberries chopped up with orange peel and some *small* amount of sugar and some other odds and ends, depending on your favorite recipe. It gets made the previous weekend and flavor develops in the fridge. You might like that…it has a nice tang and isn’t jelly or wiggly.

        1. Artemesia*

          Cranberry sauce you make yourself on the stove is not like jelly — it is soupy but jells a little and is made up whole cranberries just cooked to bursting.

    4. Lamington*

      I only eat turkey with mash potatoes, no gravy, I know not too exciting! I hate pumpkin and pecan pie and those sweet potatoes with marshmallows.

    5. A Dispatcher*

      Candied “yams” (which are totally sweet potatoes and it’s weird to me that they still call them yams but whatever), especially with the marshmallow on top. I love sweet potatoes generally but I usually like them with some kind of savory element. Twice baked with bacon, chipotle aioli for dipping fries or tots, sage brown butter for ravioli, etc.

      1. fposte*

        I love sweet potatoes in any form, and your suggestions sound amazing! I’ve never had sweet potato ravioli and will have to change that fact.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          I find it’s a lot like butternut squash ravioli. Both are amazing. Especially with goat cheese.

      2. Shan*

        +1 for savory sweet potato dishes! Which is weird because I have a major sweet tooth. But it just doesn’t taste right with the marshmallows on top! To me it’s like if you put marshmallows on regular potatoes. Ew.

      3. Nashira*

        Roasted sweet potato fries or chunks are also great with a dip made of greek yogurt, gochujang (Korean fermented chile paste), roasted garlic and lemon juice. Nfffff it’s my favorite.

        1. A Dispatcher*

          Oooh, I actually have gochujang in my fridge right now, I’ll have to try that, thanks!

          Another variation on the aioli thing I like (with all types of fries actually) is with Sriracha and very heavily reduced chicken broth. It sounds odd but it adds this awesome savory element. I stole the idea from some sandwich spread from a restaurant gourmet magazine featured a long time ago

      4. Lore*

        Sliced thin, tossed with olive oil, salt, and pimenton or spicy paprika, then baked in one flat layer on a cookie sheet. Super easy and super delicious. You can add chunks of red onion if you want to get fancy.

    6. BabyAttorney*

      Green bean casserole
      (All meat and their derivatives. So also gravy)
      Mashed potatoes

      ….the only things I really like are biscuits, cranberry sauce, and meat free stuffing. c:

    7. Colleen*

      cranberries. I like them, but they are too sweet to eat with the rest of the plate. I have to eat them for dessert.

    8. Sydney Bristow*

      I don’t like stuffing or gravy. I’m also on the fence about yams. Plenty of leftovers of those for my husband who loves them all though.

    9. pony tailed wonder*

      1. The pickled plate with pickles, pickled cauliflower, pickled peppers, pickled carrots, etc. I don’t even like to look at those drowned dead sour vegetables.
      2. I like to eat the turkey but I also like to pretend it isn’t a dead animal so looking at the carcass isn’t a favorite either.
      3. Giblet gravy. Ick. I also don’t like the gizzards or liver either.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        The pickled plate made me laugh. My mom, who died in 2008, always had to have a bowl of pickles on the holiday table. Even though no one touched them and they all went back in the jar at the end of the meal. My sisters and I were talking about that a few weeks ago. Thanks for the laugh and the fond memory of my mom.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Don’t forget the olives. At least they are all on one plate and I could pass them on with ease.

    10. LizB*

      Stuffing. The texture of moist bread is just completely unappealing to me – it’s like someone chewed it for a minute then spat it out into the serving dish.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Turkey. I don’t like it. I do eat a few pieces, but I don’t like it. I will eat a sandwich the day after, on wheat bread with a ton of French’s mustard, and then not touch turkey for the rest of the year.

      Green bean casserole. Nasty stuff. I love the french-fried onions, though; they’re great on salad. :)

      Anything with celery or mushrooms in or on it.

      I love broccoli, but I can’t eat it anymore because it kills my stomach (after a year-long course of warfarin did something to me). At my meetup group on Saturday, we had a Thanksgiving potluck and someone brought a broccoli / cheese dish that smelled like heaven. I think I actually whimpered. :(

    12. Natalie*

      The only one I definitely don’t like is stuffing – I hate wet bread. Everything else depends on the skill of the maker.

    13. Raia*

      I don’t really like the green bean casserole, the sweet potato stuff with marshmellows, cranberry sauce. I also don’t like potatoes, so in past Thanksgivings I’ve only eaten turkey and cornbread, pretty much.

      However! I had the brilliant idea last year that, if we were all going to use a day to eat food, it should be food we really like. So now my mom makes Japanese-style pork cutlet, which 1) we all love more than traditional Thanksgiving fare, 2) is a single meal instead of a meal and an aftermath, and 3) involves less prep time, so Mom actually can enjoy her more of her day too!

    14. LAMM*

      I’m with you on the pumpkin pie and green bean casserole. I’ve never understood the canned cranberry sauce, but it’s tradition that we have it. One year my brother and I INSISTED that my mother have it for Thanksgiving (we were at the grocery store and she wasn’t going to buy any). She wasn’t terribly impressed with us when no one ate it. We claimed it wasn’t meant to be eaten… it was just part of the traditional Thanksgiving table setting. And she’s bought it every year since lol.

      At my aunt and uncle’s there’s always a can of it sliced up. One of the kids gets to “carve” the cranberry sauce and we make a big deal of it (nevermind that the youngest kid is like 13). Everyone takes an obligated slice, but I don’t think anyone actually eats it. The non-jelly cranberry sauce gets devoured though.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        I thought the whole point of the canned cranberry sauce was to give someone the satisfaction of slicing it up.

        1. Nashira*

          My husband actually likes the canned stuff, and even his favorite part is very carefully slicing it along the can lines.

          1. fposte*

            If it doesn’t have can-based circumference circles, it’s not real cranberry sauce!

            (I swear in my youth the lot numbers used to be stamped on with enough force that you could read them off the contents, too.)

          2. Rebecca in Dallas*

            OK this is another thing I didn’t think about! My mom always did a traditional cranberry chutney, I thought until very recently that the canned stuff was a joke that nobody really bought.

    15. Cristina in England*

      I never liked stuffing because my mom made t with celery and Italian sausage, two things I hated as a kid. I like plain stuffing with more traditional flavors though. I have never ever had marshmallows on Thanksgiving dinner but from afar I Do Not Get It. My favorites were always the mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce and not much has changed.

    16. Blue_eyes*

      I like just about everything, except for marshmallows on sweet potatoes. Mashed sweet potatoes are fine, but I don’t even like marshmallows much on desserts, so why on earth would I want them with my dinner?! My mom makes the best sweet potatoes – sliced in rounds, then baked with butter, marmalade, brown sugar, and pecans.

    17. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Green bean casserole- yuck! We always had fresh green beans at Thanksgiving when I was growing up. My godmother would steam them and add just a little bit of lemon juice and butter- perfect! That’s the only way I can eat green beans.

      I’ve never been a fan of stuffing/dressing (although cornbread dressing as my husband’s grandmother makes it is delish!).

      I’m also not a pumpkin pie fan. I’m actually not a pie fan in general (would always prefer cake to pie) and for some reason the texture of pumpkin pie is just icky to me.

  32. A Dispatcher*

    Has anyone tried a dry brine for their turkey or other poultry? Buzzfeed (I know, not the most trustworthy source but when I’m bored at 5am at work it passes the time) did a very non-scientific taste test between wet brine, dry brine and un-brined turkey and the dry brine (a lot like a salt rub) did very well. We don’t brine ours at all for Thanksgiving (my mother is sensitive to salt), but I’m thinking it may be good on chicken or cornish game hen.

    1. fposte*

      I’ve done it on chicken, and it works nicely there. In fact, I do it even on chicken breasts–poke up a few times with a fork and sprinkle them with salt, preferably kosher. It probably is contraindicated for somebody who’s supposed to control sodium intake, but it doesn’t taste hugely salty.

    2. periwinkle*

      I’m a convert to the dry-brine method. You don’t get that slightly spongy texture typical of wet brines, you don’t have to submerge the bird in some massive bucket, and you do get a lovely moist turkey (or chicken).

      There’s just the two of us and we don’t travel for holidays, so I dry brine a turkey breast for about 2-3 hours (kosher salt, rosemary, sage) and then roast. Yum.

    3. Revanche*

      I’ve only ever dry brined turkey, haven’t done for chicken, and it’s always been the best turkey served according to my not at all biased husband :)

    4. Persehone Mulberry*

      I didn’t know brining was a thing until a couple of years ago (my trusty now-15-year-old Betty Crocker cookbook never mentions it) and by then I’d been roasting our annual bird “naked” for years and never had any complaints, so I figure if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  33. Jennifer*

    Today was a lovely day at work. We were short staffed, but I didn’t get bugged very much at all, I didn’t have that much to do and very little work came in, I didn’t have to work the front counter, and my officemates left two hours early so I got some quiet time to watch Ham4Ham videos while I did super easy work. And we got let out of work an hour early.

    All of this was lovely, compared to the last few years where it was neverending demands. So, yay! Let it always be this way!

  34. anon for this*

    I posted a while back in the non work thread about how I had asked my boyfriend to marry me and he said no. I love him and we are still together but I would be lying through my teeth if I said was happy with not being married to him. I’m in my fifties and I know how lucky I am to have him in my life. Having said that, I decided that we couldn’t go to my family’s Thanksgiving this year because a few relatives were going to take him aside and get him to see reason. But get this, he knows why I don’t want to see my family (that subject I’d still raw and I just don’t want to have it discussed with people who think he’s crazy to not marry me) and he made restaurant reservations at the place that was voted the most romantic place in town. More than one yelp review said it is a great place to propose. Now I am like a heroin hopped up hamster on an exercise wheel. All the maybe this, maybe that questions are racing through my mind. Logically, I know I need to calm the f down but it is difficult. I hope that I can just enjoy the day and stop wishing for the moon.

    1. fposte*

      I remember your post, anon. What I also remember is that you said that you’d be happy to be with this man forever whether you’re married or not, and a wonderful dinner with somebody you feel like that about is something to celebrate. So have a wonderful Thanksgiving whichever way things play out.

      1. anon for this*

        Yeah, I am trying to remember that too. But the small thoughts of not having him to be with me if I am in an accident or something just niggle at me. I want him to make decisions if I am incapacitated. Telling myself to get on with it and don’t let comparison be a thief is harder than I thought it would be. I am thinking that perhaps we can go to a lawyer and get a document that will let him have rights if the day ever grows gray for me. I need to just accept things I cannot change and not press my nose to certain windows because I do have a wonderful life as is.

        1. fposte*

          I think the idea of getting the paperwork done is a great idea. Around here, the medical POA is pretty easy to fill out even without a lawyer.

        2. Nashira*

          Going to a lawyer and getting that done sounds like a great idea. I think that’s a very valid fear to have, and it’s perfectly reasonable to want to be sure everything is okay on the legal side.

          I hope you have a lovely day today.

        3. Allison Mary*

          I didn’t get to see your post before – if you’re open to sharing, I’m curious as to what his objections are. Is he primarily opposed to the romantic notions of marriage? Like, is he taking the stance that he doesn’t need or want marriage in order to feel like his relationship with you is legit? Is it at all tied in to any fears, relating to traumatic past marriages with other partners?

          1. anon for this*

            The day was lovely and the dinner was romantic and nothing more than a wonderful time was had. So I am happy.

            He doesn’t want to get married because he was married twice before and doesn’t want it again. We are both introverts as well and we need solo time to recharge but I think that part would be workable.

  35. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    Not too much drama with my family Thanksgiving. I think the thing that’s currently stressing me out is that my birthday is Saturday and even though my husband is supposed to be doing all the work to throw me a birthday party, I’ve had to do half of it myself. Being an adult sucks sometimes. I don’t want to clean the house or do the laundry or prepare everything for my own birthday! But I guess sometimes you have to do that stuff, even if you don’t want to.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*


        I feel you on just staying in bed all day! What I wouldn’t give for a day like that…

    1. Artemesia*

      I hear you — I threw myself my own 70th — my husband is normally very considerate, but he sure whiffed that one. It was a nice party.

  36. Adara*

    We’re having a few friends over tomorrow and it’ll be fun. Both of our families are out of state and we just saw them two months ago, so we’ll stay here. Plus, we both work on Friday. He’s military and I’m at a vet’s office, so tomorrow will be a nice day off with lots of good food and company. :-) And wine. Always wine.

  37. Wrench Turner*

    I’ve got 2 chickens from a local farm spatchcocked in the fridge, one marinating in a cilantro lime sauce, the other in bbq, destined for the grill/smoker tomorrow. On the stove halva is finishing, and I’ve perfected using the tea strainer to dust green tea matcha powder on top instead of cinnamon.

    Wine is adjusting expectations.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Spatchcock! Sorry, but that is one of my favorite words and I’m just happy to see it. Carry on. Also? YUM.

      1. A Dispatcher*

        Ha, me too! I also giggle like crazy when I hear the fire dispatchers/fireman talking about cocklofts (kind of like an attic) over the radio. Clearly I’m still mentally 5.

            1. Mander*

              Everybody does. The British like to pretend that it’s just us foreigners with an immature sense of humor, but I know they’re snickering mentally just like the rest of us. ;-)

      1. Wrench Turner*

        I don’t measure anymore but it’s right when you start to dance. Yes, really.
        Fist of fresh cilantro picked & rough chopped
        Juice & pulp from 2 fresh limes
        Big spoon of minced garlic from the jar (I’m lazy)
        Not as big a spoon of minced ginger
        Plenty of sesame oil
        Plenty of sweet chili sauce
        Plenty of sweet soy sauce
        Some regular soy sauce
        A little basil
        A little cumin

  38. Juliana*

    I’m making cranberry sauce, stuffing, and turkey tonight so that I can send it with my paramedic boyfriend while he works tomorrow. And then I’m going to open a bottle of wine, eat leftovers, and Skype with my sister in France!

  39. WanderingAnon*

    After 30 years of family drama, I finally opted out of family Thanksgiving. About 8 years ago, I became friends with a group of women who do ‘Friendsgiving’ on Friday. All the food, none of the drama. The host likes to have the biggest turkey she can possibly find, but I don’t think we’ll ever top the 43-lber that miraculously fit in the oven (and was done in less time than you’d think!). This year, another friend invited me to dinner on Thanksgiving as well. So two turkey dinners, and all I have to do is bring 3 chairs to one and dinner rolls to the other! Happy Thanksgiving everyone, I hope you have enough to eat and someone to share it with.

    1. Sunshine*

      What!? 43 lbs? I have a 26-pounder in my fridge getting ready for my family on Saturday. I thought that was the biggest one I’d seen. How do you even cook a 43 pound bird?

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I can’t imagine a bird that fat! An ex and I used to have turkeys and we had a HUGE tom, but he didn’t weigh 43 pounds. I had to carry him into the shed one night when he roosted outside.

      That bird must have been part Godzilla!!

  40. Meg Murry*

    I’m supposed to be making a cranberry salad recipe my son loves and requested, but my MIL hasn’t sent me the recipe yet. She promised it by noon today, forgot and now can’t get back to her house because there is a raging fire down the street and emergency services closed off the block. So yes, her life s*cks more right now because she can’t get home and once she does it will stink of smoke – but I’m still grumpy about it.

    Oh, and I have to do it tonight because it involves jello so I need it to set. It also involves using the food processor, which I am avoiding because I have a raging headache. The internet has yielded recipes that seem close but not quite right, and I really don’t want to hear about how I didn’t make it just like Grandma So-and-so.

    I also don’t even like cranberry sauce or salad, but whatever, I guess this is easier than getting up at the crack of dawn to deal with a turkey or homemade rolls, or frantically cleaning when its our turn to host.

    1. Meg Murry*

      Oh, and the fire is bad enough to have multiple departments out to deal with it, calling on every single person on call (and even those who aren’t officially on call but are in town would be expected to help). Plus lots of cops out directing traffic. And the owner of the building on fire is obviously having a terrible day too (but no injuries repored, so at least there’s that). So, I know tonight s*cks even more for a lot of people than my pathetic whiny night, but its nice to be able to complain anonymously here.

      1. Liz in a Library*

        It’s ok to vent! I hate when venting has to be a contest of whose stuff sucks more. Sometimes we just want to be heard, even about the little stuff. :)

        I’m annoyed right now about having a cold and having to dog sit.

    2. Lurker Ama*

      That sounds a lot like my family’s cranberry salad recipe. I’ll see what I can remember…

      1 bag cranberries
      1 orange
      2 apples

      1 packet plain gelatin
      3/4 cup water
      1/2 cup sugar

      Dissolve the gelatin in the water, process the fruits (peel the orange… I think….) until everything is uniformly chopped up, mix everything together with the sugar, and chill until set.

      It doesn’t always like to set.

      Hope this helps!

  41. Windchime*

    I am currently watching cage fighting at a relatives house while I wait for supper to be ready. While worrying about the turkey I still need to go home and cook. And about the gigantic spider I vaccumed up earlier.

    1. Hellanon*

      I never thought about putting my relatives in a cage to scream at each other but I can where that would have been an improvement, at least for the rest of us.

  42. costume teapot*

    I have a pending argument with my cohab which is making me act short and unpleasant. I dont want to have the argument tonight because he will simply stonewall about three minutes in, and be awful company tomorrow. But I am unpleasant company tonight and getting more irritated every time he asks whats wrong. How do you even answer that, “I am mad at you but refuse to engage on this because youre going to be a child for two days afterward so instead I am just stewing”?

    Not good from any side of the fence. Really wish we were staying home tomorrow so we could just hash it out because ANY conflict with him takes three days to resolve because of his refusal to engage when he knows he was wrong.

    1. Dan*

      Why are you still with your cohab? Communication is the heart of any relationship, and if you can’t do it, there ain’t much left. Things might be “great” otherwise, but this sort of thing is a real deal breaker.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. The longer you stay with a person the more and more important communication becomes. What will Cohab do if a difficult decision needs to be made quickly or inside a less than three day time frame? Cohab is a lot of work, a REAL lot of work.

    2. Tomato Frog*

      This is an ultimatum situation, IMO. “I can’t be in this relationship if bringing up an issue with you will mean you’re sulky for two days after. I need to be able to know I can discuss unpleasant things with you without feeling like I’ll be punished.” I had this conversation with my boyfriend, who used to shut down for 24 to 48 hours when I raised anything, and he stopped. I would’ve broken up with him if he had not.

  43. Missed Potatoes*

    My mother-in-law is, once again, not having mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving dinner. I offered to make and bring them – still a no-go. I love this woman dearly, but come on!
    Also, I’m thankful this will likely be my biggest turkey day gripe.

    1. Morgan la Fey*

      Why do you need anyone’s permission to bring mashed potatoes? What kind of control freak puts the kibosh on mashed potatoes? Tell her you’re on a special diet, cuz you’re low on potassium.

  44. Lizzie*

    My entire family went on a cruise for Thanksgiving this year.

    I was not invited.

    (I volunteered to be on call so my supervisor could go home to his family up in the frigid north, so at least somebody gets to be with family.)

    1. fposte*

      Lizzie! That’s awful. And how wonderful of you to choose to be kind when people weren’t to you. I hope you have a peaceful on-call and people bring you treats.

      1. Lizzie*

        Not peaceful (we see an uptick in my field area around major holidays …), but good. Thank you fposte. :)

    2. pony tailed wonder*

      My sympathies on the non-invitation. I hope your weekend goes well. Treat yourself to something indulgent :)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      You know…. I have seen families carve a person out of their group. And eventually what happens is that person builds an entire full life, unbeknownst to the family. In time, family realizes that they do not even know that much about their person. Wrongly perceived, they think their person’s life has stopped. It has not. Their person has learned how to live life without them. Whoops. Not the intended lesson there. but that is the lesson that is learned.

      Cutting people out of the family, ends up going very poorly for the family as remaining members ponder if they will be the next to be cut out.

      Stay strong and build yourself a good day.

      1. F.*

        I am that ‘carved out’ person in my family. My husband and my very small circle of friends are more family to me than anyone to whom I am related by blood. And I am okay with that. I’d rather have their love than my so-called real family’s behavior toward me.

    4. Victoria, Please (Laid-Back Stepmom)*

      What. Didn’t *invite* you. I’m so sorry. It is very kind of you to do something nice for someone else, hopefully that helps just a tiny bit!

  45. Anonymous in Wisconsin*

    I love my family. Let me get that out of the way first. BUT our Thanksgiving celebration has gone from a little turkey and some store-bought sides for my family and my dad to me (alone!) cooking for my family of three, my dad, two of my brothers, two nieces, and my brother-in-law. NO ONE offers to bring a dish. I cook everything.

    I do enjoy it, but in the last few years, everyone has expected leftovers to be sent home with them. I used to do that just for my dad, but this year, I actually bought extra turkey just to send home with everyone.

    Last year, I did do leftovers, but I sent way, way less home with everyone. I may do that again this year. I am not sure I can ask anyone else to bring anything as they are all bachelors who do not cook. They all have little money too (we have been fortunate and can afford all of this).

    I am not sure what I am asking, or if I am asking anything. Anyone else in this same situation?

    PS: Whenever a friend is concerned about what to bring to dinner (with their own family), I laugh. I wish I only had one dish to worry about.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. pony tailed wonder*

      You can ask them to bring a small something. Store bought or homemade, doesn’t matter. Tell them next year that they can bring x,y, or z. Things that are easy make or buy to bring would be rolls, cookies, pies, wine, celery ribs filled with flavored cream cheese or peanut butter, or jello. They are all at different price points and cooking abilities. If they don’t bring things then they don’t get to take things.

    2. LizB*

      My uncle, an inveterate bachelor-who-does-not-cook, is perpetually assigned to bring dinner rolls to our family Thanksgiving. He picks up a package of frozen Pillsbury rolls every year and bakes them in the host’s oven, and it turns out fine. My point is that even if your relatives don’t normally cook and don’t have much money, there must be SOMETHING they can contribute. It’s kind of ridiculous that they expect you to feed them 2+ meals of delicious food without chipping in anything at all. Store-bought cranberry sauce? A bag of steam-in-the-microwave frozen green beans? Raw veggies + onion dip? A pie from a local bakery? None of these things are unreasonable in terms of money, time, or cooking know-how, and you would be well within your rights to send out messages next October saying, “Thanksgiving at our house again, 5pm! I need someone to bring rolls, someone to bring a salad, and someone to bring a pie – please let me know which one you’d like to take care of!”

        1. Sunshine*

          Oh yes… that the way to do it. Mine is phrased as “what does everyone want to bring?”, or even more to the point like this year: “would you like to bring x?” Easy peasy.

      1. Shan*

        This is excellent and I agree. I’ve never had a Thanksgiving where one person/family does all the cooking; it’s always assumed you should bring something for all the food and hospitality you’re about to receive. Most of my family is generous asks what they can bring, but I do have one snobby Aunt that brings all four of her kids, never offers to bring any food, and begins packing up leftovers for herself (without asking) at the end of the meal! This year, my mom called her said, “Would you like to bring X or Y?” and she committed to bringing something. We’ll see how it turns out but my mom feels much better.

    3. Tess McGill*

      This post made me think about the famous e-mail from Marney about assigning Thanksgiving dishes. I was reminded of it once again this year when I heard two morning DJ’s reading it on-air on Tuesday. Makes me laugh and cringe at the same time. Originally published in 2009. You’ll find the actual letter, a dramatic reading of the letter, an interview with the actual Marney and even a t-shirt here:

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Okay, so I’m all caught up on the Marney letter — thanks for linking to that priceless read! But after reading her letter and watching her interview, I have to say that the casserole dish on the t-shirt is *not* ‘Marney approved’. A Marney approved casserole would be rectangular with a flat lid (no knob on top) for stacking. She was very adamant about the stacking.

    4. Tomato Frog*

      No no no. NO. Cook/host gets all the leftovers. You can offer them to people, but they cannot ask for them! I am deeply offended on your behalf.

      1. Wrench Turner*

        If it’s only 1 or 2 people over I’ll send some special leftovers home – someone tweeted they were eating my grilled chicken, cold, in bed at 2am because it was so good – but for big gatherings any leftovers are mine.

    5. Artemesia*

      My mother did what you do and then resented that she was the maid while everyone watched football. Unless you enjoy being taken advantage of, why not just switch things up? Next year in early October, send a note saying you are happy to have Thanksgiving at your house but will need some help with the meal. Say you will be providing the Turkey and cranberry sauce and need volunteers for potatoes, veggie, pies, whatever other category you want. And ask people to sign up.

      It would enrage me if people expected me to provide it all and then wanted to carry home the leftovers. I’d be buying a smaller turkey not a larger one to make sure there were no significant leftovers. I once had a guest ask if she could bag up the turkey carcus to take home ‘because I like to make stock from it.’ I looked her in the eye and said ‘oh we always make stock from it so I won’t be throwing it out.’ Sheesh.

      1. Chinook*

        “My mother did what you do and then resented that she was the maid while everyone watched football.”

        My family has always had a “he who cooks never cleans up” rule at the dinner table. This goes triple at big family dinners. Sure, the host/cook may want to be in the kitchen to show people where to put things away or to keep the good silverware out of the dishwasher, but there is no need for them to get their hands wet. Even the 4 year old knows that it is wrong for Grandpa to have to do dishes if he cooked the turkey. Plus, you can have amazing conversations over a sink while one washes and the other dries.

  46. Hellanon*

    Friendsgiving, plus my parents who are driving in from the desert. Best T-day ever: there’s about twelve of us, we send around an email & get the cooking divided up, and everyone’s on notice to bring two bottles of wine per person + mineral water. Turns out to be a lovely low-key day, and then we cart all the leftovers to another friend’s house for supper on Friday. Can’t wait…

  47. Ollie*

    Well, I posted in the last open thread that Uhaul hadn’t delivered my boxes. They finally did it on Sunday, 4 days late, meaning my fiance had to sleep on the floor the night before he started his new job and I had absolutely no help moving furniture and getting everything set up. Sigh. So my friends will get to see my lovely boxes and unhung paintings when they come over tomorrow. Really embarrassed. At least I have my kitchen set up so that I can cook tomorrow. :(

    1. Lionness*

      I’m glad it finally arrived. Please don’t let yourself worry. These are your friends. They will not mind.

      And if they do, they are welcome to eat elsewhere today.

  48. T-Day Anon*

    I’m dreading Thanksgiving tomorrow. Very long story short, my mother hates my boyfriend. He treats me well, is exceedingly polite to her, and he’s one of those people that everyone likes. My theory is that she is very jealous of him and sees him as a threat (i.e. taking her daughter away from her, etc.).

    She tried to start an argument with me earlier in the week about him coming to Thanksgiving with me. His family lives several hours away and it’s just not feasible for him to go home. She threw a fit, insulted him, and now I’m afraid she is going to make a scene tomorrow. During her tantrum, I remained calm and repeated “I’m really sorry you feel this way. He is coming tomorrow and that’s it. If that’s going to be an issue, we will stay in Our City and have dinner.”

    She’s been trying to get me to dump him for years because she wants me to be with someone who makes a lot of money (no, i’m not kidding). I’m very financially secure on my own and she knows that.

    She doesn’t know this (and neither does anyone else in my family) but we are planning on getting married next year. I don’t want to announce it until the proposal has happened, but honestly – I’m terrified to say anything because I know she is going to blow a gasket.

    So…needless to say I’ve been combing through Captain Awkward’s archives the past couple of days, trying to arm myself with good advice in case things go South.

    Any coping tips, good thoughts, or prayers would be much appreciated.

    1. pony tailed wonder*

      Jmo, let your boyfriend know that you will be leaving if he is not treated with respect and then do it if she harps on him or the relationship. Give your mom one verbal warning and stick to it. Best wishes.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        Good idea! If she starts doing whatever she does that you don’t like state clearly what you want her to do and what you will do if she doesn’t listen. “Mom, you can not speak to boyfriend that way. Stop it now, or we will leave.” The most important part here is to actually follow through and leave if she doesn’t knock it off. As Dan Savage would say, let her know that your presence in her life is conditional. You have the power to determine whether or not to see her, so make it conditional on her treating boyfriend with respect.

      1. catsAreCool*

        I agree with fposte. This sounds like a good day to stay home and take it easy and not let him get subjected to whatever she has in store.

    2. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Ugh! That sucks.

      How does your boyfriend feel about this? It’s an awkward position for him to be in obviously, and if he wants to bail at any point, you should be supportive of that. But he may not want to cause additional drama in your family, if he’s as awesome of a guy as you say he is. Maybe set a particular leaving time or code word to escape. That way if you’ve had it with her (or he has), you can say “Oh, sorry we have to leave early, but we have to feed our dog/take care of the cat/get away from your insanity” (Probably shouldn’t use that last one out loud…)

      1. TL -*

        I would actually suggest they be clear with her why they leave. He’s going to be around for a long, long time and she needs to make the connection between being rude to him and losing her daughter’s company.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      If that was me I would tell my mom I wasn’t going to come to visit and have dinner at home with out the stress.

    4. Lionness*

      Wow, I am so sorry. I’ll take you at your word that there is no reason for her to dislike him. Some moms are just crazy.

      Pay attention to his queues. Maybe setup a signal or “safe word” ahead of time that means “I want to leave. Now.” Do not be afraid to announce that you are both leaving if your mother makes a scene. Don’t give in and don’t put up with it. This is your intended partner for life, set boundaries now. She doesn’t get to mistreat him and expect to still spend the holidays with you.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Definitely set up a signal for when it is time to leave. Or set a time limit, as in, “we will leave by 3 pm.”

    5. Artemesia*

      The first time she shows her ass, take her aside and say ‘If we have another moment like that where you are unkind to Bill, he and I are leaving.’ The second time, leave. Do this this time and you will save yourself a lot of trouble later. I probably would not have made the trip, but I definitely would not put up with any crap. And if there is later blowback, you need to say “Mom — you have a choice — you can be pleasant to my boyfriend or see very little of me for the rest of your life. Being a jerk to my love is not an option.”

  49. Sherm*

    I am traveling together with my parents by car to Thanksgiving, and they always want to stay FOREVER. They are afraid of offending anyone, so whenever they are guests they never show up late and they never leave until the party is seriously dying down. The problem is that some of our relatives arrive 2-3 hours late and then feel like talking for hours. I wish family get-togethers didn’t have to be such marathon sessions.

    1. Shan*

      Mine can be like that too. Maybe since you’re traveling with them, you can let them know ahead of time that these things really wear you out so you’d like to leave to be home by X time, and they can “blame” leaving early on you. That usually works for me! Sometimes I’ve even (gently) brought up the point that it’s more offensive to stay too long than to leave early, saying something like, “We wouldn’t want to overstay our welcome!” But sometimes they just wanna chat with people they haven’t seen in a while, so I endure it – only one day of the year, after all. Good luck!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      This makes me smile, not because I don’t feel your pain, but because I have the opposite problem. My grandmother always wants to leave early– she’s a bit… “difficult”– regardless of whether everyone else is enjoying themselves. I told my mother yesterday that if Grandmom wants to leave early and we don’t, she’s getting in a cab. Or Mom can leave with her and I’m getting a cab, because I’m looking forward to seeing these relatives and I intend to have a nice holiday on my own terms. It sounds cruel, but my grandmother is by no means infirm and has been like this her entire life.

      In saying this… wanna switch? :)

  50. The Other Dawn*

    No crimes or angst here. But I’m happy to report I just finished making my very first chocolate pie….from scratch, crust and all!

    My sister gave me a list of food choices to choose from and I chose chocolate pies, a family staple at holiday meals. I know how everyone else in the family makes it–store-bought crust with boxed pudding–and didn’t want to make it that way. (I like to imagine that I’m Julia Child in training.) I searched online and settled on the King Arthur Flour recipe–they have a lot of awesome recipes I rely on. It was time consuming, but it’s done.

    I sampled the pudding while it was still warm…OMG! It was sinful! I used Ghiradelli bittersweet baking chocolate, dark cocoa powder and a touch of espresso powder, so it was chocolate heaven.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        I just make the Smitten Kitchen chocolate pie with ginger snap crust this week, and it was awesome too. Deb is my hero.

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      I can cook just about anything. Except pie crust. I make a horrible pie crust. And then I learned that a wonderful relative who was been a home ec teacher for 40 years, grows a lot of her own food (including meat) and is the most wonderful cook buys her pie crust at the store. Apparently, buying pie crust does not make me an inferior person. But I’m totally jealous that you can do it.

      1. Artemesia*

        I get the rolls of dough from the store too. I have a SIL who makes amazing pie crust and she gave me her instructions and if I do all that, it is close to as good as hers, but it is a lot of work.

        I just finished recreating a dish I had at la Tour d’Argent in Paris — quennelles with mornay sauce on a bed of mushroom duxelle. It was heavenly at the restaurant and I had never had it before so thought I would give it a try. Of course, I didn’t have exactly the right fish yadda yadda and mine are not turning out very well. I have the poached quennelles on their beds of mushroom duxelle in the refrigerator and will add the sauce and put them in the over for 10 minutes or so before serving. I am hoping they will be tasty if not as pretty. It turns out there are two kinds of quennelles. I made the Julia Child ones — but I suspect the ones I had at La Tour were the lighter egg white kind. I am hoping that mornay sauce will hide any defects.

      2. Chinook*

        “Apparently, buying pie crust does not make me an inferior person.”

        I agree because good pie crust requires some type of touch that not everyone has. My dad has it but I don’t. I have heard a theory that it has to do with your natural body temperature affecting the dough when you are kneading it.

    2. olympiasepiriot*

      King Arthur is a great company. If you ever find yourself planning a trip to VT, know that they have classes at their place in Wilder, a very nice cafe, and lots of baking supplies in their store, including huge bags of flour if you do a lot of baking. It is worth setting aside a day to take a class there.

  51. Lindsay J*

    I’m meeting my boyfriend’s family for the first time tomorrow. I’m kind of anxious about it as my last boyfriend’s family never really liked me or accepted me; I was an awkward kid and on the first time I met them I paid more attention to their dogs than I did them and in 7 years they never got over it. And I don’t really want to go through that again. (My high school boyfriend’s mom on the other hand loved me and I was sad to break up with him because of how cool his family was).

    I’m also kind of intimidated because I’m pretty sure his dad is literally a rocket scientist. And I guess they do Thanksgiving more formally than my family does as I’ve already been reminded that cutlery goes from outside to inside lol.

    1. anon nom nom*

      Don’t be so intimidated. I grew up within visual distance of Johnson Space Center. They are all normal people there. A few of my friends dads and one mom were astronauts. No big deal. Parents have jobs. Some stir up more conversations than others. If you are casting about looking for conversation, offer to help out or ask about your boyfriends childhood. Just treat them as friends that you are just getting to know. Remember, these are the people raised a great guy, perhaps the most important job of all. My dad and Buzz Aldrin are terrible smart alecs when they meet up. So just regular joes, really.

      1. The Expendable Redshirt*

        Good thing I’ve never been to your house! If I was in the same room as Buzz Aldrin, I’d probably turn into a gibbering mess. That’s what happened when I met Chris Hadfield. My geeky fangirl came out and I literally forgot my name. (Space walks! The I.S.S.! Canadarm!)

        For Thanksgiving, my suggestion is to think of conversation topics ahead of time. Something the other person is likely to find interesting, or related to something they know. Having a general topic plan can help the “Oh crap! I have no idea what to say” moments.

    2. Lionness*

      Don’t be intimidated. I work with people who are doing work to cure cancer. And just about every other disease known to man. They say words I can’t possibly repeat or even comprehend. But, just like your bf’s father, they are just people. Really smart people, but normal people with their own quirks, oddities and flaws. And I bet there are things that you know more about than he does. Plus, if you are even mildly interested in space it could be really interesting to hear about his work!

    3. Clever Name*

      My husband programs stuff on rockets and satellites, and he still laughs at fart jokes. So, don’t be intimidated. Smart people are like everyone else. :)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This is kind of funny, sort of… I am relieved that there are people in this world much smarter than me. I know the limits of what is inside my head and, in an odd way, not knowing the limits of what is in other people’s heads is comforting to me. Maybe they have the answers.

  52. Ugh.*

    Ugh. My whole Thanksgiving got scheduled around the fact that my family was coming to my town not on Thanksgiving itself but later in the weekend to visit with some family friends, so it didn’t make sense for me to go to them Thursday morning (never traveling on Wednesday afternoon/evening again) and then turn around and come back. Then my family canceled last week, at which point it was too late to make travel plans to them for a reasonable price. Last weekend, my SO finally got confirmation that he wasn’t in charge of Thanksgiving for his elderly parents. We have invitations from two of my friends for Friendsgivings. We made plans to go to one of them, and confirmed them Monday, and both RSVPed.

    Today, SO tells me he really doesn’t want to go. He’s having a genuinely hard time right now for all kinds of reasons, and not wanting to spend the evening with friends of mine with whom he’s not very close and friends of theirs, celebrating when he’s in a very uncelebratory place, is totally reasonable…but we could have had this conversation on Monday and I could have come up with a plan that worked for everyone. Now either we both go and he’s unhappy and counting minutes till we can politely leave, or we cancel and don’t have Thanksgiving and probably fight about it and my friends’ feelings are hurt, or I go and he stays home and I meet up with him later, which I offered and he doesn’t want to put me in that position.

    I had a crappy day anyway, and this was kind of the final straw, so I let him be curt and end the conversation instead of trying to persuade anyone to do anything or making plans to do anything this evening or earlier than dinner tomorrow, and now I’ve spent all night feeling both bad about it and too crappy-day-worn-out to call back and try and come up with a better solution. Now we’re both going to be stressed out and anxious tomorrow for different reasons. Boo.

    1. Jean*

      Bummer! I hope you two can find a way to short-circuit your grumpiness and make peace.
      Maybe the best compromise is for SO to accept your offer to go alone, then meet up with him later. Would he feel comfortable with you
      a) telling your friends that SO is having a hard time?
      b) asking for your friends’ help in assembling a few takeout items for him? (I’m a pretty firm believer that while a slice of pie may not solve the world’s problems, it’s not going to add to them either…okay, yes, it’s calories, but just one slice?)
      If you don’t want to telephone, you could text or email.

      1. Ugh*

        I would probably just tell them he’s not feeling well, which is certainly true–there’s enough of the group that I don’t know well myself that I don’t want a referendum on his mental health. But yes, I was proposing bringing leftovers back to him.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      or I go and he stays home and I meet up with him later, which I offered and he doesn’t want to put me in that position.

      Any chance that “I don’t want to put you in that position” really means “I feel bad asking for that but I’d be relieved if you insisted on it”? Sometimes I think it gets used that way.

      Either way, that seems like the best option out of all of them.

      1. Revanche*

        This is almost always what my husband means and it took me years to learn it. And I often still forget. Overly conscientious/thoughtful people can occasionally make things more difficult than it needs to be :)

      2. Ugh*

        Quite possibly, but I also know that when he’s this fragile, the line between “I’m insisting that you not go because I know you don’t want to” and the anxiety spiral of “I’m insisting that you not go because I/the hosts don’t really want you there” is very, very thin and I think crossing into the latter would be way worse than going for two hours.

      3. Ugh.*

        Well, I apologized for being grumpy and unsupportive last night, and he seems to have decided to go this morning. I suspect he’d still rather not, but now my insisting risks coming off as “I agree with what you said last night, that your life sucks and you have nothing to contribute to the party” rather than “I know you don’t want to go” so I’m not pushing him to stay home. (This decision is, I think, conditioned by the fact that he’s realized he has no food in the house so either he deals with people at the grocery store, he deals with people at Thanksgiving, he deals with people by calling for takeout, or he stays hungry till I get back from dinner, so I guess my friends are the least objectionable people on that list?) My goal will be to not let it turn into an extended evening of drinking and reminiscing about events he wasn’t part of, but to have dinner and make as early an exit as we politely can. (Having folks there with kids makes this a lot easier than it used to be.) (As long as this isn’t one of the years when the turkey doesn’t come out of the oven till 10 pm.) (Which has happened. A lot.)

  53. idk*

    I was planning to go to a Friendsgiving tomorrow, but I really don’t want to go because I’ll be the only one there who isn’t married or in a relationship. I don’t really want to spend a holiday being the extra wheel again because this happened last year and as much as I love my friends it was pretty weird. I’m usually not one to care about being single and I tend to prefer it, but being in a group all coupled up gets awkward quickly. I think I might just stay home and catch up on Netflix instead.

    1. Shan*

      I’m the same way, and maybe it’s because I’m more extroverted, but I’d say go, even if you just stop by for a bit! I tend to feel a little sad when I spend too much time alone, and it’s nice to see some people you don’t get to see often and enjoy some good food. I always think, “When I look back in 20 years, what will I want to remember?” and usually my answer, as much as I love it, is not the Netflix I was watching alone. I always give myself permission to bounce if it’s weird or I’m too uncomfortable.

      Plus, your friends probably really care about you. I know mine do, but it totally surprised me the other day when I skipped out on something because it was all coupley, and afterward they sent me a few texts saying they loved and missed me and wished I could have made it. It was sweet to know my company is valued.

      Whatever you choose to do though, I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving :)

    1. Jean*

      They are very good full-face portraits of your cats. I thought you had three? Am I missing details?
      I confess to being envious. My allergies prevent me from being around kitties, even when I take antihistamine. Enjoy your felines!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Four! There are four, which I realize is crazy.

        That’s Olive and Eve, the two youngest, but their elders are Sam and Lucy, the two orange ones who sometimes appear here.

      2. Shan*

        I have bad allergies too…The Neko Atsume app has satisfied my love for kitties without sacrificing my health! So cute!

        1. SL #2*

          Neko Atstume is totally my jam– I’ve found all the kitties in the game, but now I just love looking at the game and seeing which kitties are in the yard at the moment.

  54. Jean*

    I hope that those of us battling gloom and doom will find some respite this weekend. I’m not looking for magic solutions (spouses for people unwillingly single, breakups or divorces for people unhappily paired, jobs for the too-long-unemployed, total cures for loved ones with a horrible physical or mental illness)–just a few moments of calm, or sunshine, or hope, or a blooming plant, or the company of cats or puppies or adorable small children. Or whatever else makes us happier even if it’s not Whatever We Want Most Although It Does Not Seem Likely to Happen.

    I’m actually having some calm myself. It’s amazing. I am grateful.

  55. Ask a Manager* Post author

    What is everyone reading? I am about a third of the way into Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies and can’t decide if I like it or not, but it’s certainly engrossing.

    1. FD*

      Oh man, I just read the Stormlight Archives series and it’s SOOOOOO good!

      It’s a fantasy series about characters trying to prevent a prophesied apocalypse. Something I really enjoy is how the author put a lot of thought into worldbuilding–not just animals and plants, but even different social norms and modesty norms. (For example, one culture considers it immodest for women to have their left hand exposed.)

      1. Swoop*

        I’ve been really enjoying that series too – definitely agree, I really like how the different cultures are _different_, not just variations on a theme

    2. pony tailed wonder*

      I got an arc of Heather Gudenkauf’s latest, Missing Pieces. I am about 50 pages in and I’m hooked. A long married woman goes to her husband’s hometown with him for the first time and there are secrets that become unraveled but then you start to wonder if these secrets are truth or lies. The author writes well and has me on edge with my questions already.

    3. CharlieCakes*

      I literally just downloaded Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

      Shout out to my local library and the Overdrive app for providing me with eBooks!!! An eBook will never compare to the real thing though, sigh.

      1. anon for this*

        As someone who works for OverDrive, know that we are super thankful for all of our users who take advantage of the service through their local library!

        1. Nashira*

          You are one of my super heroes, Person Who Works For OverDrive. Emergency book downloads have gotten me through some really emotionally rough times. I especially love that I can re-borrow favorite books and it remembers where I left off, for times when I just want to re-read sections I am particularly fond of.

    4. Weekday Warrior*

      Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread. Actually a great Thanksgiving read as it tells the story of several generations of a Baltimore family; the good, the bad, the mysteries, the spool of life. Vintage Tyler and at first I thought it was a too familiar style and story but it drew me in and has stayed with me. Seeing family truths from different perspectives is a Tyler specialty.

    5. jmkenrick*

      Life After Life.

      The writing is beautiful, but I’m not as drawn into in the story as I thought. Although it’s still early; I hold out hope.

    6. Stephanie*

      Crooked by Austin Grossman: it’s a retelling of the Nixon era where dark magic shapes all the major events.

    7. Gene*

      My current home book is “Trigger Warning”, a Neil Gaiman anthology.

      My current work book is “Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager’s Guide to Getting Results” by somebody named Alison Green. ;-)

      1. JessaB*

        Who is this Green person of whom you speak? (Not really giggle, I do ultimately have to get the book. I do want to read it.)

    8. CrazyCatLady*

      I JUST started Raven (about jonestown because morbid things fascinate me). This will be the second book on the topic in two weeks.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, report in on how you like it. I pretty much only read nonfiction for fun these days, and that one sounds really interesting.

    9. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I just started Mark Kurlansky’s biography of Clarence Birdseye. I love reading Kurlansky– he has a great style and he understands how important it is to discuss the history of food in great detail. :)

    10. Sara*

      I just finished Neurotribes by Steve Silberman (socio-medical history of autism/ASD), and I’m about to start Sarah Vowell’s Lafayette in the Somewhat United States. And I just got Rosemary (a biography of Rosemary Kennedy) from the library. I guess I’m on a non-fiction kick.

    11. Lore*

      I was really disappointed by Fates and Furies, after having loved Arcadia and Monsters of Templeton. I see what everyone else loved in it, but I found it frustrating. I gave up on Gregory Maguire’s After Alice yesterday (and I never give up on books but it was just not grabbing me) so I need to find something new. I have David Hare’s and Elvis Costello’s memoirs so maybe one of them?

        1. TL -*

          Yes! Uprooted is fantastic – I read it and then it ended up circling through my friend group because they all picked it up and read a page or two while visiting and then begged to borrow it.

    12. The Expendable Redshirt*

      Atlas Shrugged.

      I find it to be very confusing. The antagonists aren’t realistic, and there’s a major Steel Mill/ Railway Love Fest going on.

      1. nep*

        Recently met someone named Dagny — after the character in that book.
        That one was OK for me. I remember really enjoying Rand’s We The Living.

    13. AVP*

      If you like nonfiction, I’ve been fascinated by John Strausberg’s The Village, a history of Greenwich Village in NYC. It’s very engaging and pretty well written, with lots of gossipy asides about artsy famous people. You won’t see Edna St Vincent Millay the same way again!

    14. Elizabeth West*

      I’m reading that book someone here recommended, Hard Times: Life in Low-Pay Britain, by Polly Toynbee. It’s even more engrossing and horrible than Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickeled and Dimed. It also gives me no hope that I will ever be able to live in Britain on my own unless I win the lottery or marry somebody with a castle. :(

    15. Swoop*

      just finished ‘Odd Interlude’ by Dean Kootz (part of the Odd Thomas series)
      looking forward to starting a book on the history of the police in Britain & Wales

  56. Shan*

    I’ve been home for a couple days now, and the first freaking day my parents and I were watching the news and I opened my mouth about politics, because…I’m young. And stupid. (I’ve been out of college/off parents’ support for 3 years, but this is the first where I’m actually “coming home” for Thanksgiving.)

    It ended with me in tears. My parents said some, what I feel are, hateful and inaccurate things about certain groups of people. Not to mention there are some private details of my life that they don’t even know about and were totally bashing. I got upset because I was thinking, “I can’t be myself around them. How could these people love me if they’re (unknowingly) bashing my life choices, the things I’m standing for and even fighting for?” But eventually I realized we have different views and I should have let it go. I apologized but felt absolutely terrible. It was rough.

    Then I saw that SNL/Adele skit, “A Thanksgiving Miracle.” It’s HILARIOUS and totally perfect. I showed it to my parents and they were cracking up! So we do agree on something! A Thanksgiving miracle indeed. If you’re like me and have really different views from your family, watch it, have a laugh, listen to some Adele, and enjoy your family, sans politics.

    1. pony tailed wonder*

      Look up SNL’s Back Home Baller with Cameron Diaz if you want another smile. Let your parents know that’s how things are supposed to go. They will believe you cuz it be on the internets and all.

      1. Shan*

        YES That’s another one we love and it’s become a little inside joke. My mom always giggles when I walk in saying, “Bowls, bowls, all types of bowls…” Too accurate!

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Ha! I watched this last night with my daughter who’s back home for Thanksgiving. The “bowls, bowls, all kinds of bowls” is totally true! AND she admitted (unnecessarily, because I was already on to her) to occasionally feigning sleep when she hears me looking for help.

    2. Nashira*

      I have put some very serious thought into showing my in-laws that Adele skit and basically saying “so, if anyone brings up politics, I’m going to start belting out HELLO FROM THE OTHER SIDE and will scare the dog into barking.”

    3. Blue_eyes*

      I’m sorry, that stinks. This is not something for right now, but something to think about in the long term. Depending on what the “private details of your life” are, you may want to eventually consider sharing them with your parents. One of the biggest ways to change people’s minds about “people like THAT” (whatever THAT is), is to show them that they actually know and like people like THAT. Dan Savage talks about this idea a lot, so you could listen to his podcast or read his advice column (searching for the specific group you identify with might yield advice about telling your parents). If this doesn’t seem to apply to your situation, feel free to ignore of course. Good luck, and practice your Adele voice ;).

  57. Nashira*

    I just want to hide in my house and program and maybe play Fallout4 for the rest of the year, not do holidays. I need to find a new therapist, again, because “just avoid triggers” is almost criminally useless advice for coping with PTSD but guess what I got told at my appointment yesterday? I mean, how do I avoid triggers like the sounds of planes flying overhead or the scent of rubbing alcohol, or people talking about recent terrorist attacks that remind me of living in DC on 9/11 and during the Beltway Sniper attacks? You know, without deciding to never leave my house ever, and always wearing ear and nose plugs. I think I completely give up on LCSWs, since this is my third strike out with them.

    And I have to go to my in-laws tomorrow and act like a normal human being, which seems like it ought to be easy when it’s just MIL, FIL, husband and I, but… I just don’t want to. It was going okay until therapy!fail yesterday, and I thought it would be pleasant, but now I just don’t want to go and I can’t duck out without hurting their feelings.

    1. Dan*

      I really hate the stress and disruption the holidays create. My ex really never understood it.

      These days, I travel to my family for one of the major winter holidays and then do my own thing (with friends or whatever) for the other. This year, turkey is with the fam, but a week later, I’ll be leaving for SE Asia for a month. On my own. So looking forward to it.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        Enjoy Asia I was there for the first time recently and loved it. Have you been before, where are you going?

        1. Dan*

          Asia? Yes. Several times. This time is Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. I’m going to meet up with an old grad school classmate in Taipei, which I’m excited about, as I’ve never done that before. Most of my time will be spent in Vietnam, the rest of the places will be new to me, except for Hong Kong.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            A chat room friend of mine is in Vietnam right now. :)

            I wish I could travel for a month. Managing three weeks even was very hard financially. I need to get out of here again, though.

    2. Revanche*

      Would it be awful to fake a sudden and violent cold? “I am miserable and cannot possibly imagine inflicting this on you, please enjoy dinner and know I’m thinking of you?”

      1. Nashira*

        I put some serious thought into saying I had a migraine, since they know how devastating mine are, but I honestly miss a lot of things due to really having them. I think I was just being sadpants last night.

        Plus I can totally steal their laptop to work on FreeCodeCamp if I need to. :D

    3. Observer*

      Did you ask your therapist how you are supposed to avoid these triggers.

      Sometimes it is possible to avoid triggers. But, the stuff you describe as triggers is just too enmeshed in normal life.

      But, don’t necessarily give up on LCSWs, since not all of them are so bad. You do need to find someone who has had some success with your type of issue, though.

      1. Clever Name*

        Yes. Find someone you click with. I don’t think the letters behind their name really matters for talk therapy.

  58. Sparkly Librarian*

    We are finally on the road, two hours after I’d hoped to leave. Makings of roasted veggies and cherry pie (and leftover turkey mole) packed, along with ALL THE MEDS. I thiiiiink I’m beating this cold, but I have multiple other bottles once you account for anti-inflammatories and painkillers and oh yeah the prednisone that will make me grumpy and weepy and PERFECT for family socializing, I’m sure.

  59. Anon four this*

    Had an invite to spend the holiday weekend with friends of almost four decades whom I haven’t seen in about 10 years about a 5 hour drive away. Wife #2 has known and liked them for almost two decades and she was excited to go. Since it was a late invite, our cat sitter since 1990 was booked, as was who she recommended. Only boarding place wife trusts is full.

    I have a friend whom wife doesn’t know who is a vet tech and cat sits as a side business. Nope, doesn’t even want to meet her. “She wasn’t recommended by .” So we’re staying home and I’m cooking dinner for the two of us.

    Yeah, I sorta understand wife’s anxiety disorder and depression. But I’m getting «>¤÷}¥ tired of not going anywhere or seeing anyone together.

    I’ll likely start drinking early tomorrow. Maybe at home, maybe at the neighborhood tavern. All depends on how pissed I feel tomorrow.

    1. Dan*

      I’m responding to the last part more than anything, but if it’s that bad, why do you stay married? Some else’s mental health isn’t worth your own.


      Been there, done that

    2. Revanche*

      I guess there was no chance the cat could come with? I don’t mean you should presume but maybe it would be worth mentioning. Some of our friends know we can’t always get a sitter and they welcome our furry critter into their homes to enable a visit. I do the same for some with well behaved pets.

    3. misspiggy*

      That sucks, I’m sorry. In my experience you’ve got to do things you care about on your own when someone’s anxiety stops them doing those things. Otherwise the resentment builds up to a toxic level. When I go places without my partner I tell people he’s got the flu, or am honest that his depression has got the better of him, depending on the people. Sometimes he needs me to stay at home and be with him, but I’ll only do that as an exception. Otherwise I’m his carer rather than us being equals, and I want to put that off as long as possible. (Both of us have issues that could dominate our lives if we let them, but we try to acknowledge how they’re affecting the relationship, and try to give each other space not to be bothered with it all.)

    4. Observer*

      I’ll likely start drinking early tomorrow. Maybe at home, maybe at the neighborhood tavern. All depends on how pissed I feel tomorrow.

      If that’s how you respond to things that bother you, maybe you are part of the problem.

      I don’t know your life, so I’m not judging how “legitimate” your annoyance is, nor whether you really understand your wife’s issues properly or not. For all I know you are 100% right in that respect.

      I am talking only about drinking as a response. It’s just never the right way to deal with stuff like this.

    5. Clever Name*

      That really sucks. Honestly, we’ve left our cats by themselves for up to 4 days. (With enough food and water out, obviously) I wonder if it being able to leave the cat is a convenient excuse not to travel.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have done that, also. Left the cats here for a few days. They were actually happier here by themselves than if I had boarded them. I put out extra litter boxes, water and food. (Okay, they had way more than they needed.) I came home to calm kitties. The first time I did it, I was amazed at the difference in my animals.

        1. The Itsy Bitsy Spider*

          wait a minute- you have been friends with these people for 4o years and haven’t seen them in 10 and they are a 5 hour drive a way. I am with wife number two on this one. Forget the cats. Tell her you want to go. She gets to have a meditative retreat on her own, reading a good book, having hot baths and tea. You go. Have fun. What am I missing?

    6. Anon four this*

      A couple of clarifications.

      The drinking comment was tongue-in-cheek. I still have two bottles of the six pack I bought for July 4 in the fridge and a bottle of hooch lasts me at least a year or two.

      I regularly take weekends away by myself – she doesn’t enjoy my hobby (meets last a weekend or long-weekend), so I’ll do that at least 6 or 8 times a year. It keeps me sane. And the friends recently moved to within 5 hours, previously they were closer to 2000 miles away.

      No way she would allow the cats to be left home alone, that’s a non-starter for her (see: anxiety). And they don’t travel well, either.

      As far as divorce goes, while it would mostly solve the current problems with her, there’s no way I could afford to support two households; her SSDI payment is so low, I’d be forced into that and have to sell the house I’ve lived in for almost 40 years and end up paying the rent on two lousy apartments.

      Mainly, I was venting in a safe place. Thanks for listening.

      1. Ambassador Troy*

        I’m sorry you’re a handler for your wife’s anxiety. A partner’s depression and anxiety can really drag you down and force you to make compromises that other people really don’t understand. We can love our people with mental health issues while hating the issues and the problems they cause, but it’s very hard. Can confirm :)

  60. Shan*

    My family – a competitive bunch – is having our First Annual Thanksgiving Dessert Contest! Everyone will vote for their favorite dessert and most votes wins. The only rule is that the dessert must be made from scratch, no mixes or pre-made crusts allowed. The prize is $50 cash, put up by my awesome dad, since this was his idea :)

    Since there are a lot of little ones in my family, I went for strategy and made the kids’ favorite: Banana Pudding! Dad made an apple spice cake, Mom made pecan cheesecake bars, and my sister won’t tell anybody what she’s making.

    Any favorite award-worthy dessert recipes?

    1. pony tailed wonder*

      With kids, frost and decorate your own cookies might go over well for next year. Kids can be creative and compete amongst themselves for dollar prizes. Maybe have as many categories as there are kids? Prettiest, scariest, best cartoon like cookie, etc. If the adults can compete then the kids should too. You can set out cookies, three different colored frosting colors, sprinkles, marshmallows, shredded coconut, and whatever.

  61. Coffee Girl*

    I’ll be working Thanksgiving morning and the heart of Black Friday at my Green Apron’d shop. Hoping this is my final year working Thanksgiving day, involuntarily.

    On that note: I trust many of you are kind people (I’ve been a lurker here for a couple years now), but *please* remember to be kind to those of us working/serving you/opening for door busters over the next few days! Many of us would much rather be on your side of the counter.

  62. Ada Lovelace*

    Someone remind me of this moment next year. We’re hosting our second Friendsgiving game night on Friday. Last year we invited 22 people and we had 10 rsvp which we easily fit. This year, we invited 25 people and 20 have confirmed!! I don’t even know how to fit everyone to eat at one time. We are using all our furniture; the dining table, couch, love seat, game table and folding chairs all seat 17. I guess I should be excited that people have enjoyed themselves during the year at other game nights and were looking forward to Friendsgiving but my anxiety is through the roof.

    1. Pipette*

      Sounds like it’s going to be awesome! Can you ask people if someone can bring chairs/tables? Also stuff like snack bowls and glasses etc (unless you decide to go for disposables). Nobody sane would expect you to have the hardware to host 20 people in your home (unless you actually are a countess) and most people actually like helping with stuff, you know? So don’t be afraid to ask your friends for help with practicalities.

      1. Ada Lovelace*

        Oh yea. We have a few new board games and a few new people that haven’t played anything with us yet. I’m super excited about that! It’s also a potluck because NYC kitchens are not big enough to cook for 20. We’re frying turkey breasts and using disposables. I hate doing dishes. Unfortunately we really don’t have any more room to fit in any more furniture. And we just picked up 20 bottles of wine to get to through the night. One of those is to get me through tomorrow’s prep.

    2. Clever Name*

      Don’t expect people will all eat at the table. I think it’s okay to ask people to bring chairs if that’s a concern. I’ve been to some pretty big parties (like over 40 people), and people sit pretty much anywhere to eat.

  63. Nina*

    Happy Thanksgiving! I really envy all these pleasant, calm Thanksgivings you folks are having, because mine never go that way. About to butter up the turkey breast (no one really wants it but me so we don’t get a whole turkey) because I’m trying to save some time. I’d like to do the chopping too, but I’m fading. I swore I was going to do all the prep work tonight, but I wasn’t planning on spending nearly two hours at two different grocery stores after work. And this was already after we did the main shopping!

    Thanksgiving in my household means there will be several arguments (already had one tonight!), cursing, possible tears, apologies, passive aggressive calls from relatives because we didn’t go to their house/they weren’t invited to ours (there is a reason for that), emergency runs to the grocery store because we inevitably forgot something, arguments over what to watch on TV while we cook, debates over whether to cook a certain thing if we have the time (every freaking year), exhaustion, hair pulling, door slamming, stress eating, and consuming the actual meal much later than planned. Ends with me passed out in my room with a half-eaten plate, knowing I must love my family a lot to do this year after year.

    All that aside, I actually am grateful for something this year, besides having Friday off. I had an awful viral infection that left me basically bedridden for two weeks. Not having experienced anything like it before, I’m so grateful that I recovered from it fairly quickly, and actually in time for the holiday. I had barely eaten anything in days.

    1. ginger ale for all*

      That sounds familiar. I have alcoholics in my family and I seek solace with the ones who are in recovery and avoid the ones who haven’t gotten there yet. I have a family member who has a heroin problem and multiple arrests for prostitution. She lost custody of her child (thank goodness). Avoiding the reality of that and pretending that we are all versions of June and Ward Cleaver is a strain. Good luck with the meal.

    2. Nina*

      Welp, it’s already started. Can’t butter and season the turkey because I just discovered that the delightful smelling herb that I thought were chives is actually mint. Mint is lovely. Fabulous in desserts. But it does not belong in my turkey.

      I know the difference between the two, honest. I just grabbed the herb under the ‘chive’ section at the store and threw it in the cart. I knew that smell was off. Shopping when you’re exhausted is a really bad idea.

      I’ll just add chives to the list of items that my brother will pick up tomorrow…

      1. Clever Name*

        Honestly, I think salt and pepper are all that turkey needs. No worries about buying the wrong herb!

  64. Dan*

    Just venting… Grabbed a flight to my parents place after work. Flew southwest, got to my seat, and the bin was closed. Found space a couple rows behind my seat.

    For most of the flight, middle seat couldn’t figure out how to keep his elbow out of my rib cage. Yeah space can be tight, but There Are Ways to avoid that.

    We land, I make a beeline for my bag. Middle seat opens the bin, and I noticed that him and his wife had both of their bags in sideways. The plane had the newer, deeper bins that accommodate bags wheels first.

    The joys of holiday travel. At least the weather is good.

    1. SL #2*

      A lady once dropped her carry-on ON MY HEAD during a Thanksgiving eve flight. We’d landed, there was the standard warning about items shifting around… She was not very apologetic. I was irritated enough to snap at her but it would’ve gone down worse if I could muster up the energy to make it more of a screaming match.

    2. fposte*

      I’m going to ding the flight attendant on that too–they’re supposed to check the bins on a full flight before they close them.

      But yeah, it really irritates me when people do that–did they think the announcements telling them how to put their bags in were just for other people?

    3. Sunshine*

      Flying is just atrocious. And it gets worse every year. Space is so tight you literally can’t move without invading someone else, which makes you want to constantly apologize… for what? Having actual body mass? Excruciating and degrading, the whole deal.

    4. Clever Name*

      Just check your damn bags people! I check my bags and only carry on items that can go under the seat in front of me. I get that not checking bags saves some time, but it saves what, an hour?

  65. Jen RO*

    I’m outside the US, but my boss is American, which means that he is away for three days – yay, peace and quiet!

  66. Revanche*

    I was doing fine with my mental plan for tomorrow’s cooking when this thread reminded me I forgot about cranberry sauce, pie, rolls, and Mac n cheese. That leaves us with turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, roasted carrots, and green beans. And maybe ice cream sandwiches for three adults. That’s good enough for three people, right? I could probably rustle up a pecan pie too….

    1. SL #2*

      That is definitely enough! I would choose the mac and cheese if you really, really want to add another side, but your energy is probably better spent getting a pecan (or apple!) pie to go with those ice cream sandwiches. ;)

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Cranberry sauce is dead easy! So if you decide to go to the store for those pecans, get some cranberries and get moving.

      Signed, someone who looooooooves cranberry sauce :)

    3. Clever Name*

      For 3 people we’re doing a small turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, yams, and an olive plate. It will be plenty.

      On a side note, I wish the damn turkey would cook already! I should never believe the suggested cooking times given we’re at altitude. Thank goodness I increased the cooking temperature.

      1. Revanche*

        We ended up with nearly the same number of dishes but uh …. I should have gotten a much smaller turkey. Turns out the sub-1 year old doesn’t eat that much ;D

        I planned for leftovers but went overboard. Whoops! How long did your turkey end up taking?

  67. Beezus*

    The stars have aligned, and I now have plans to see my in-laws on 3 of the 4 days off I get this weekend.

  68. Violetta*

    Any suggestions for a Thanksgiving dessert or snack I could make that travels well? I have not celebrated Thanksgiving before (Europe) so I’m a bit lost.

      1. misspiggy*

        Not from the US but it seems like spices are welcomed this time of year, so perhaps apple and cinnamon?

    1. Blue_eyes*

      While there are some “traditional foods” (although each family tends to have their own as well), most people will be happy with anything tasty.

  69. Tara R.*

    Thanksgiving was a lovely long weekend at home for me a month ago, but roommate is from the US and I’m a bit worried about her being homesick. We’re not very close, but I’ll make sure to say happy Thanksgiving in the morning.

    Actually, while I’m talking about my roommate, I’ve been thinking about Christmas. I’m not buying anyone anything substantial, but normally I would at least get a token for someone I’ve been living with for four months– but she’s Jewish. Is a Hannukah gift appropriate? Are there special rules around them that I may not be aware of? She’s not very religious, and has mentioned getting Christmas presents for her non-Jewish friends.

    1. Tara R.*

      *special rules around Hannukah gifts, I realize it’s not super clear what I’m referring to there

    2. misspiggy*

      My Jewish inlaws don’t do Hanukkah gifts, but send cards. A card and a food gift would probably be very welcome. Doughnuts are a tradition here (fried in oil, Hanukkah is about keeping the oil burning in the temple, kind of thing).

      But if your roommate gets people Christmas presents you should also get her one; a lot of non religious Jewish people love Christmas and just do it without the Church bits, like most atheists.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      No rules! Get her a little something, but make sure you give it to her during Chanukah. :) Starts December 6th, lasts for 8 nights.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Jew here. We do Hanukkah gifts. As AvonLady Barksdale says, make sure you give it to her during Hanukkah (ideally first night or first day — note that it starts at sundown Dec. 6th this year), not hand it to her on Christmas. Don’t wrap it in Christmas paper. She will appreciate all of this.

      Other than that, no special rules.

  70. Ruth (UK)*

    Thanksgiving obv doesn’t exist here but i have an American mother so we have a meal. We do it on the sat since workplaces and school etc are open as normal on Thursday. This year some of my American cousins are visiting.

    Meanwhile, British people these days seem to actually know of the holiday due to the internet. In the past I’ve had complete bafflement in reply to my mentioning it. I know at least two people who have thought thanksgiving is just an American term for Xmas. Since American shows air about two months late here, we sometimes get thanksgiving episodes showing over Xmas and the meal looks the same which confuses people, apparently

    1. Tess McGill*

      I just returned from living in the UK for two years and was really surprised when my UK friends would actually wish me a “Happy Thanksgiving” and bring me gifts! I was not prepared for that! It was lovely! (But they knew it wasn’t our Christmas, so I was touched that they recognized our holiday). We celebrated both years by inviting remotely-living American families (like us) and single (U.S.) soldiers to join us for the meal.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        Yes I think in recent years everyone knows what it’s about more, esp cause the internet makes it obvious. Black Friday also appears have to become a thing in the last two or three years… Notably I live in a semi rural area which might explain the number of people I’ve met who didn’t have a clue.

      2. Lionness*

        I had a UK coworker send me a small “Thanksgiving gift” at work the other day. It was really sweet. Gifts are typically associated with this holiday but it was a wonderful recognition of a holiday that is very important here in the States.

    2. Cristina in England*

      I saw a sign today in a butcher shop that said “Thanksgiving turkeys”. You can even get Libby’s pumpkin puree in Waitrose now! Also, two journalism students approached me to ask what I thought of Black Friday, which bewilders some people here since it has only existed for the last 5 years when Amazon, and then a couple of years later Asda (owned by Walmart) decided to make it A Thing.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        We had an argument at work over when ‘black friday’ was because one of my coworkers commented last week that “it’s black friday tomrrow, right?” (ie. about the 20th) and I said no, it was next week because it is the day after thanksgiving. They didn’t seem to feel that this was important to the discussion.

        I think people here aren’t quite sure what’s going EXACTLY but apparently there’s a day full of deals so w/e…

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I keep seeing Thanksgiving articles on MSN UK. It’s weirding me out. If I were living there, I’d probably just skip it.
      (I read the British version because my browsers still refuse to load the US one after five weeks in the UK. Even my computer wants to be in London!)

  71. Oswin*

    *sigh* And so the holidays begin.

    Ever since my grandmother died, the side of my family that I still talk to have Thanksgiving on Sunday, so I’m not able to go since I live 4 hours away and it’s not practical to drive that late at night, especially since deer are all around on the drive to and from there. Every time we get together with my husband’s family, it becomes a rant on everything liberal that his mother doesn’t agree with, even though she takes advantage of the programs herself, but then bashes others who do. Ultimately, I am happy to avoid that aspect of getting together.

    My father apparently has to spend every holiday with his wife’s mother and her (adult) children. I’m not sure the last time I actually saw him on a holiday itself. All in all, holidays very much depress me.

    Although, I’m excited for the football game tonight, even though that’ll mean the crazies are out and about in my city!

  72. CrazyCatLady*

    For the third year in a row, my husband and I are staying home and cooking a big meal just for ourselves! We live 2000+ miles from our families and I do not ever want to travel on thanksgiving.

    I sometimes SORT OF miss being around everyone on thanksgiving but it’s so much more relaxing now.

    1. MT*

      This is me and my husband’s fifth year spending Thanksgiving just us!
      I think we’ve gone “home” for Christmas once or twice, but we always stay and do Thanksgiving and the whole big meal for just the two of us. We love it!

  73. Nightstand*

    I made some seriously poor choices this week… Was supposed to be working from home while cleaning/otherwise preparing to have fam over for the holiday. Instead I ended up blowing off work completely yet still somehow didn’t get a lot done around the house…been suffering from major work burnout and maybe this is the fallout. :(

  74. matcha123*

    I can’t be home for Thanksgiving, so I’m on the phone with my mom.
    Will read through this thread later to peek into others’ Thanksgivings. I come from a very small family, so I’ve never had to deal with relative issues and such!

  75. nep*

    It’s a rare day off so I use the time doing what I want / need to do. If I’m around the house at the magic moment, family members will expect me to take part in the ritual as they sit down to a meal (no part of which I’d eat) and pray. I’m trying to somehow ‘accidentally’ be out of the house at that moment.
    Vegan, agnostic in a meat-eating, God-fearing family. There you have it. (I know — not a religious holiday. But for this family, including relatives visiting from out of town, everything is very God-related.)
    This is the kind of day I yearn for living alone again.

      1. nep*

        Actually just got back from a nice run. I actually do have some work I must get done today so family members will just have to deal with my not being part if festivities. It’s not a huge deal — just that initial moment it’s evident I’m Not Participating. Then people are on with their own thing, their own conversation…and life goes on.

  76. Mkb*

    My husband parent and my parents are coming to our house today and we’re going to tell them that were expecting. This will be the first grandchild on my husbands side so I expect a lot of happy tears from his parents :) also because my morning sickness is so bad, I got all of our food catered lol. If anyone’s in lower New England Stew Leonard’s makes excellent thanksgiving food.

    1. nep*

      What a happy occasion. Good for you, having the food catered. Hope the a.m. sickness will ease soon. All best wishes.

      1. Mkb*

        Thank you! And I totally relate to your post above, I’m a vegetarian agnostic so I try hard to avoid saying grace, luckily our immediate families don’t do it (just extended.) after 10+ years as a veg, the families usually get enough food for us to eat, I also like hosting because I can pick out all if the items.

    2. Lionness*

      What wonderful news! The soon-to-be-Grandparents are going to be so thrilled.

      Hell, I’m thrilled for you!

  77. Graciosa*

    I’m expecting a nice day today – dinner with family that none of us had to cook (ordering – yeah!) – if I can just get away from work long enough to enjoy it!

    I understand when the international teams want to keep moving, and I try to be more understanding when they don’t respect our holiday, but it really irks me coming from the U.S.

    To my co-workers in the U.S. – TAKE THE DAY OFF! The world will not end before Monday. The opportunity to work will still be there then.

  78. LSCO*

    Happy Thanksgiving from across the pond!

    One quick (and potentially stupid) question – seeing as Americans traditionally eat turkey at Thanksgiving, what is the traditional Christmas meal? Do you have turkey at Christmas too (as us Brits traditionally do)? Or is there another meat/meal which is favoured?

    1. Sara*

      I think it may get vary family to family. My parents have always done ham for Christmas, but my boyfriend’s family usually has turkey.

    2. Nashira*

      Traditional in my family was either ham or beef tenderloin with this fancy red wine sauce I learned from Emeril Lagasse. Traditional with my husband’s family is lasagna, because heck yeah lasagna that’s why.

    3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      My family always did turkey on the grill for Thanksgiving, ham was for Easter and Christmas, accompanied by potato salad, Cole slaw, rye bread and butter, pickles, Brussels sprouts, and a variety of desserts.

    4. Temperance*

      It seems to be regional. I’m from the northeast, and ham is the thing that people have on Christmas. We also have a lot of Polish-Americans and Italian-Americans, who often have Christmas Eve traditions. (Italian families have the Feast of the 7 Fishes, and Polish people just seem to make a lot of Polish food.)

    5. The Other Dawn*

      It varies. Most of the time it’s ham at Christmas. Sometimes it’s turkey. A few times it was lasagne or prime rib. Sides are usually mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce (when there’s turkey), stuffed mushrooms, veggies like corn and green beans, turnips (yuck), deviled eggs and rolls. But that can vary sometimes too.

    6. MaryMary*

      Sometimes we have turkey for Christmas, but the past few years we’ve done a big fancy standing rib roast. Prime rib for dinner, yum!

      I’m half Polish, and Christmas Eve is meatless and involves traditional foods (pierogi, sauerkraut). However, the only seafood my brother will eat is seared tuna, which is not very traditional.

    7. Cristina in England*

      My parents (in New England) always had a ham on Christmas Eve, alongside pierogis, my mom’s 7 layer dip, beans, and whatever else that I can’t remember. Christmas day was all about leftovers.
      In recent years I’ve had to figure out how to have special meals on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to accommodate both me and my husband, which is tricky but we’ve settled on these special locally-made fish cakes on Christmas Eve, and a turkey on Christmas Day. I do miss the ham, but I am not willing to make it myself, nor do we have the room for that and the turkey.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      My family does, but we have gone to alternating the big get-together from year to year. This year, it’s Christmas and I expect we’ll have turkey as usual. I don’t like turkey, so if I’m on my own, I usually make ham for myself.

      When I lived with the ex-bf who had a farm, his family would always have turkey, ham, and venison (they all hunt and deer season is in early November). I was happy as a clam because I could skip the turkey and load up on deer meat. Mmm, venison. I haven’t had it since and I miss it.

    9. Clever Name*

      I like traditional turkey on thanksgiving and something different for Christmas. Last year we did a Christmas goose. Never again. It was $60 and fatty as hell. I like experimenting. Our son is lobbying for fondue. :)

    10. QualityControlFreak*

      Turkey and all the fixins for Thanksgiving, prime rib for Christmas. I do yeast bread dinner rolls for TG dinner and popovers with the beef. Along with mashed potatoes and a dark, rich gravy. Mmmmm…..

    11. Elizabeth*

      My family usually did turkey at Thanksgiving, fish (usually salmon) or quiche on Christmas Eve, roast beef on Christmas Day, crab legs on New Years Day & ham at Easter.

      My husband’s family had turkey at Thanksgiving and ham at Christmas & Easter.

    12. Betty (the other Betty)*

      My parent’s usually had a beef roast for Christmas dinner. Plus a veggie lasagna the years I was vegetarian (thanks, Mom!). Cannoli and other Italian pastries for dessert.

      My husband’s family has sub sandwiches (probably started because between his family and his cousins, they had 6 teenage boys at the same time LOL).

      My husband, son and I are pretty relaxed about it when it is just the three of us. We tend to gift/make sweets, like chocolates and cookies, so we nibble on those all day. For actual food, we might do subs (cold cuts and veggies on Italian bread), and/or have heavy appetizers (pigs in a blanket, veggies and dip, fancy cheeses and fruit and bread, jalapeno poppers, antipasto with spicy pepperoncini and salami, that sort of thing).

  79. AnonToday*

    Thanksgiving is a love/hate holiday for me. I love it, it is my favorite holiday. But it is also a bitter reminder of a lost friendship.

    Three years ago I made a big move to help out a friend. She was having a tough time and was my best friend (the kind of best friend you move across the country for). I left my job, all of my other friends behind and moved to a state I’d never want to live in. Almost immediately I knew it was a mistake. I was having a hard time adjusting and wanted her to spend more time hanging out with me to help me acclimate. She was in a new relationship and wanted to spend all of her time with him.

    It all came to a head on Thanksgiving. We had been fighting bitterly. We’d both said some ugly things. As an attempt at reconciliation, we had agreed to Thanksgiving at my place, her boyfriend included (which I still think was rather kind of me considering how he’d treated me). Dinner was set for two, with them to arrive around noon.

    Noon comes and goes and I hear nothing so I text and call. Nothing. Two comes and goes, nothing. No response to calls or texts. I am genuinely worried. Even when we fought, she always responded. Finally at four she responds and says they decided to do something else, they aren’t coming. Meanwhile I cooked an entire Thanksgiving meal and I’m now livid. It was the worst fight we’d ever had. I had been scared that they were hurt, meanwhile they were off having fun with his friends and hadn’t bothered to tell me of the change ahead of time.

    That was the last time we spoke. It still hurts to think of how the friendship ended. I tried to reach out a few times over the last few years, always to no response. I hear they are married now and she seems happy from what I’ve heard. Now I am back home with my friends and things are better for me now. But I still wonder if we’d still be friends if I hadn’t have moved. I still miss the friend I used to have.

    1. Victoria, Please (Laid-Back Stepmom)*

      My goodness, AnonToday. I’m so sorry. That is — just tragic. I’m glad you are back home and reasonably okay. Thanks for sharing this here, at AAM, a surprisingly safe place.

    2. Jean*

      More hugs. That is, if you’re a huggy kind of person. Moral support if you prefer fewer hugs.
      Lost friendships are crummy. I have a few of my own. I try to remember the good parts; remind myself that we parted for a reason; and then–with the hope that they are happy and healthy, wherever they are–move my thoughts to another topic. We can’t be all things to all people.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh. I”m sorry that happened. That’s a bucket of rude.

      FWIW, I don’t think staying would have helped. It sounds like she had decided to put the boyfriend ahead of every other relationship. But I’m glad things are better for you.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      She sounds kind of flaky to me. You move out there to be supportive of her and then she has no time for you because of her bf? I guess she was not having as difficult a time as she said she was? It sounds like she sent out mixed messages.

      Just my opinion, but it could be that you would not be friends anyway. Grieve, cry it out and then give yourself permission to let it go. It’s okay to care about people and sometimes we care more about them than they do about us. It sucks but there it is anyway. Try to remember that there is nothing wrong with being a good, sincere friend to others. If they neglect us or take advantage, that is their shame to carry and NOT ours. You are still you, that sincere, kind person. Be proud of that part of you.

      Again, just my opinion, but she knows she pulled a really stupid stunt, okay many stupid stunts. I think it will be along time before she feels she can face you. Go be with friends who deserve a good friend like you.

    5. Clever Name*

      Wow. That’s truly awful. It’s her loss, but I understand the grief. You mourn what should have been. Been there.

  80. AVP*

    My family is meeting my boyfriends family for the first time today. I’m excited and think it will go well. The only thing I was worried about is that my parents are on the opposite of the political spectrum as everyone else (including me), but I forewarned my mom about political talk and she said, “at least we can all make fun of Trump!” Which is a relief because I half expected my dad to show up in a “Make America great again!” hat.

  81. Mimmy*

    Ha! The only angst I get is the noise and chaos of 19 people in one house! This is my Thanksgiving every year – we come up to Boston to my sister’s grand house. My husband and I always stay at a nearby hotel.

    Tomorrow, we may go to Cape Cod for the day to visit with hubby’s relatives. Should be fun.

    Oh and PSA: Whatever you do, don’t let the salon talk you into a quickie manicure while you still have packing to do!! My nails are a total wreck! :(

  82. Blue_eyes*

    A little Thanksgiving anecdote for you all…
    My father-in-law doesn’t sleep well (bad back) and often gets up during the night. He frequently snacks during the night as well, but he tries to keep it healthy so sometimes he will steam some broccoli or something to eat. So this morning my mother-in-law goes to start cooking and finds that half of the bag of brussels sprouts she bought is missing. As you can probably guess, FIL made them as a snack last night. So I already went out this morning to buy replacement brussels sprouts.

    1. Ruffingit*

      LOL! Well, good for him for snacking healthy. I’d be grabbing a Twix bar or something. Have to give him credit for making brussel sprouts and not eating the pumpkin pie or whatever :)

  83. LizB*

    I just took my pecan pie out of the oven and it looks like the crust leaked a bit. :( I hope it isn’t too soggy.

  84. Liane*

    Our church decided to host Thanksgiving at lunchtime, so we are going to do that. Our son, 19, is at this moment making fried okra, and yesterday our daughter, 18, made a cheesecake.* So in under an hour we’ll be heading off to church for that.
    I can often be down around this holiday, as it is the anniversary of my beloved dad’s passing away. Once we moved up here, my dear, sweet mom-in-law’s Thanksgiving dinners eased the pain so much. But it’s been several years since we lost both my husband’s parents…
    But finally I find myself only thankful, not sad that I had 3 such wonderful parents in my life. Perhaps that silly notion I had to go on Google Maps and take a virtual trip around my hometown helped.

    PS: Thanks for this site, Alison and the posters!

    *The recipe that called for a 9″ graham cracker crust was too much filling for the 9′ crust we bought and she would appreciate advice on avoiding this in future.

    1. Sunshine*

      Make your own graham cracker crust in a springform pan. Makes it more of a “deep dish ” style as compared to a store bought crust. (And it’s super easy!)

      1. Wrench Turner*

        A springform pan is usually what they mean. Not expensive and handy to have for more than cheesecake. Google Rigatoni Pasta Pie for a clever and way tasty use of this device.

  85. Temperance*

    My SIL is being a jerkass this week about how she regrets having a child because her kid won’t have a “real family” because we aren’t all getting together for my MIL’s “Thanksgiving”.

    Her “Thanksgiving” is the Saturday after the actual holiday, and would require us to spend 5 hours in a car, round-trip for an unpleasant, cold meal where we’ll be pressured to spend the night. We are working on home renovations and it’s the busiest month for me at work …. I need this break! We need to paint this weekend.

    1. Ada Lovelace*

      On a day to be thankful for what you have, your SIL regrets having a child because you can’t make it to see them this month. That is ridiculous. I truly hope she is not saying that around the child, even if it’s just to try to manipulate you into making the trip.

    2. Ruffingit*

      Your sister in law is ridiculous and f&cked in the head frankly. She regrets having a child because she can’t have the Thanksgiving she wants for her kid? That is sick and weird enough to be totally ignored or, if you feel particularly snarky, you can say “You’re right. You really should give up your kid for adoption to a family that will have these types of gathering. Your kid deserves that sort of family.”

    3. Sara*

      Your MIL’s Thanksgiving sounds like the one I attended growing up. (Mandatory attendance for 30 people in a one bedroom house, eating in shifts due to inadequate table space, cold or overdone food [or both], and your choice of 5 sugar-free pies, just in case my diabetic grandpa spontaneously started liking dessert that year.) For the record, attending this celebration annually for over a decade failed to turn us into what could be called a “real family.”

  86. Victoria, Please (Laid-Back Stepmom)*

    We are driving a couple of hours to meet my stepdaughter’s fiance’s grandparents for Thanksgiving, feeling that we should meet at least ONE member of his family before the wedding which is in three weeks!

    Should be fiiiiiiiine with no drama — right? Actually, it really should be. He is a sensible guy and well, we’re laid-back in-laws-to-be.

  87. Wrench Turner*

    I don’t mind cooking or company, but I hate phone calls (I hate them anyway, but holidays are worse). I’m not close with family beyond my parent and sibling, but the calls all around make me anxious and awkward (moreso than normal). They also take so much time that I need to be cooking, cleaning or talking to the people right in front of me.

    “You’ll miss them when they’re gone” doesn’t mean much because they’re not really there to begin with. I want them to be happy and happy to hear from them but I’m not really a part of any of their lives. I’m not good with small talk either so chatting about my day job, night job, and student debt just doesn’t do it for me. My family is very, very small and I keep my few friends very close. I can gladly talk to you for hours in person, but don’t call me.

    Anyone else get this way?

    1. Sara*

      Yes, I’m with you. I’m not particularly close to my extended family on either side, and so the forced conversations that occur by phone or (more awkward) Skype/FaceTime around the holidays aren’t really doing much for my holiday cheer. It’s not that I object to the notion of becoming closer to them through regular contact, but most of my family lives on the opposite coast, so these are people I see in person every 3-4 years at most, and I think it’s hard to connect when that’s the case.

  88. AnonymousaurusRex*

    I’m spending Thanksgiving helping my mother in law get rid of bedbugs :( And then walking to either Denny’s or IHOP for dinner, since we can’t be in her apartment and my partner won’t let her mom in the car (for fear we will catch the wretched creatures). It should be a memorable day today.

  89. LoserAnon*

    I’m having a holiday meltdown because I can’t handle any more of people looking down on me because I’m not where they are in life and am huge failure. This is why I hate the holidays. Too many people asking about my life and me having to explain that yes, I’m back at school despite being 28 and no, I can’t use my old degree because my GPA was a 1.8 and my GPA was a 1.8 because I was clinically depressed. Everyone else my age is so much more ahead and I can just feel their judgement and I’m so so so so so sick of it. Why did I have to be the failure? Why do I have to be me? Why can’t I be them? Why can’t I be the one who got it all right and has a great, well paying job? I feel like my only purpose in life is to exist so people realise there is someone more useless than they are.

    1. Weekday Warrior*

      Don’t let the questions/judgements get you down. There is really no such thing as “ahead” unless we’re rushing ourselves towards…the end. Would it help to try saying in an upbeat voice, e.g. “I’m really excited to be studying X!” and then ask them about themselves? Might be hard. *speaks from experience* I was a hot mess, or so I thought, right up to my 30’s and then things gelled for me or as I put it “I got off my own case” . I think this is true of many people so hang in there!

      My other mantra was “Just breathing is enough. Everything else is gravy”.

      1. Wrench Turner*

        Got to remember that get off my own case thing. A few years ago, over a camp fire and few beers, I asked my early 60s step dad that I just met if you ever really know what you’re doing. He said, “Nope! I don’t feel much different than I did at 16 or 18, I just know a whole lot more and have a few more aches and pains!”/

    2. Wrench Turner*

      I’m on back to school round 3? 4? After finally getting my Associates in 09 I’m studying HVAC and refrigeration. I’m 35. I was in your shoes down to the color and GPA. Fork your judgmental friends and judgmental thoughts. Fork them up and down. We were sold a crock of crap about what we need to be doing and what we need to own and by what age by an economic system that can’t keep itself up without destroying somebody along the way. Fork em good.

      Do whatever you need to do to pay the bills and if you can be happy doing it you are WAY AHEAD of a whole lot of miserable jerks earning a larger paycheck. You owe no one.

    3. neverjaunty*

      Are those folks really judging you, or are you just sure that they are? Lots and lots of people do things “late” in life – because they had clinical depression, because they just weren’t ready, because they took time to do other things. It’s not a race where you only win by getting to milestones by a certain age.

    4. Clever Name*

      Aww. Hugs. I know it’s tough to feel like you’re being judged by everyone around you. I wonder what would happen if you pretended no one was judging you and that you were happy on your path and acted accordingly. It might be an interesting experiment. :)

    5. catsAreCool*

      You aren’t a failure. You’re the one who got handed a lousy thing in life (depression) and have picked yourself up and are going back to school to better your life. You’ve got drive and persistence that a lot of people don’t have. Plenty of people who have been in tough positions have just given up. You haven’t. Good for you!

  90. Cristina in England*

    We have started a new tradition this year. Because we have some home renovations going on until tomorrow, we all went out for a pub lunch. Nothing special about that, except that by the end of November, restaurants here have their Christmas menus on, so I was able to get a turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, gravy, yorkshire puddings, sausages, brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, etc etc etc made for me! Hooray!

  91. Ruffingit*

    Lovely meal at home with my husband, mom, and two dogs. Perfect, quiet day. I really enjoyed it. And later comes my favorite part – pie :)

  92. Blue Anne*

    It’s nearly 11 PM here in Scotland.

    Today I hosted my mom, my husband, my husband’s aunt, my husband’s two best friends (a lesbian couple), my husband’s girlfriend, and my boyfriend.

    It went swimmingly. We had plenty of food, my battle plan was perfectly executed, everything came out of the oven right on time. I have tons of leftovers. It was a very educated table: a senior professor, a master’s student, three almost-done-PhDs. We listened to Alice’s Restaurant and watched the Shibboleth episode of The West Wing, everyone debated social theory and told family stories, and it was great.

    Most of them were all meeting each other for the first time and everyone liked everyone else. Eight is the perfect number for buffer if things get awkward with one or two people but there wasn’t any need. The whole thing was perfect. At the end of the night my mom made me sit down, boyfriend got me a slice of pie and husband got me a whisky.

    Today, I am thankful for my tribe.

  93. Stephanie*

    Update: Dinner was…edible. My grandmother didn’t really season beyond salt and pepper. My garlicky Brussels sprouts were the most popular thing, surprisingly enough.

    1. Audiophile*

      Your dinner sounds a bit like my dinner. Sister did all the cooking, so almost everything was solid. Except my favorite, the mac and cheese. :(

  94. Elizabeth West*

    House is clean and I put some decorations out. A Christmas-y throw over my tub chair, some red candles and a green cloth on the kitchen table (gah, I need to polish those candlesticks tomorrow), some fairy lights (I am going to call them that from now on :)) over the doorway to the kitchen, some gold pine cones in a basket, and a wreath on the front door. No tree, because I won’t be here at Christmas–I’m going to my mum’s. Oh yes, and a candle is burning so the house smells like a pine tree. I also put some fairy lights up in my bedroom, sort of draped across the corner and over one curtain pole. I like them so much I think I may leave them after the holiday.

    Cornbread is in the oven and soon I will heat up my beans. Mmmmm. Cat is fed. The rain hasn’t gotten here yet, but I’m seriously doubting we’ll get as much as predicted. Maybe that will come with what’s headed our way from Oklahoma. I have not gotten out of my PJs today either. :) I may write some later.

    I talked to my mum and my dad today (yesterday was Dad’s birthday). My sister texted me, too. The spot next to me is still very empty, but I’m trying not to think about it.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Your dad and my daughter have the same birthday. We had a quiet family celebration, and my daughter had just one friend over. I still can’t tell if they are in a relationship or not. On one hand, they say on the loveseat together and kind of draped their arms or legs casually over each other; on the other hand, my daughter says they are just friends and that is all. They were each other’s prom date last year, though, and the way they acted and looked at each other made me think . . . ‘Hmm, maybe.’

      It finally started raining here in NW Arkansas last night, and now we’re under a flash flood advisory as the rain continues.

      I hope you enjoyed your day :-)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Thanks! I did, mostly. It was nice to get the cleaning out of the way so I can do whatever I like the rest of the weekend.
        I hope you don’t float away. It’s already flooding here.

  95. StillHealing*

    It hasn’t bothered me to be home alone today. It’s just another day. I don’t feel sad or miss my soon to be ex-husband, at all. He did send an awkward email wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving. He acknowledged “the last year being a mess”. But he stopped short of taking any responsibility or apologizing. I haven’t replied because I’d just send something angry back to him. I know he’s very unhappy and stressed living on the snowy cold east coast. But it’s all on him. He chose to respond when the old girlfriend tracked him down a year ago. He chose to have the affair. He chose to stop paying all of his bills the day he started the affair. He chose to quit his high paying job for a job that pays less than half the wages. (and no benefits but health insurance) The employer has no perks and “doesn’t treat employees very well”. He has multiple collections agencies trying to track him down for all his unpaid bills. He hates cold, snow, not having television or cable. He doesn’t not like animals in the house and apparently his affair partner has several.

    Maybe it’s finally starting to sink in that he had it pretty darn good here? He’s burned a lot of bridges here so moving back here now wouldn’t be a wise decision either.

    Heading to the coast with my son tomorrow. Going to a Friendgiving celebration at a friend’s beach home. Looking forward to it.

    1. Dan*

      Well, your stbx had one thing right – last year was a mess – a mess of his own creation. I stopped responding to my ex the day we did the property transfer. There’s just no reason to keep engaging. They f it up, they don’t deserve a second chance.

      1. StillHealing*

        I hope once the divorce is final, I never need to contact him for any reason again. I will certainly ignore attempts at contact. Looks forward to starting a new year with him truly out of my life.

        1. ginger ale for all*

          Jmo, you will probably have to deal with him from time to time because of your son. However, I think in this case, living well will truly be the best revenge. Cheers to living outrageously well.

          1. fposte*

            Just a mention here of Our Family Wizard, which is an online communications tool geared to divorced parents needing to co-parent. It’s a way to keep all the communications in one place, keep hostile exes off your phone and email, and keep a documentation trail if there are issues of reliability or phraseology. Some courts are even suggesting it to parents.

    2. Clever Name*

      Your ex certainly blew up his own life. It sounds like he’s realizing that he made a mistake, but it also sounds like moving on is the better option for you. I remember first reading your question when he got back in touch with his ex, and lots of people were like, “I wouldn’t worry”. Well you were right all along. You know your life. Hang in there. I’m sure things will turn out for the best.

  96. MeUnplugged*

    Happy Thanksgiving one and all! Alison, thank you so much for this site. I am a Constant Reader and would be late without it!

    And thank you commenters! Your insights are also so helpful! This is a great online community!

    Hope you are all having a great day!

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