Thanksgiving free-for-all – November 23, 2017

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers. (In the spirit of the holiday, this one is no work and no school. If you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

{ 513 comments… read them below }

  1. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

    I broke my vow of never traveling on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It took us nearly 12 hours to make a trip that should be 8 hours max. There were tears, especially when my family kept calling to find out what we wanted for dinner but couldn’t tell us what was on the restaurant’s menu, and when I said I was in a traffic jam and couldn’t talk, they got pissy. Also, my still-recovering knee took a beating.

    This will be an interesting day.

    1. NaoNao*

      Thus it begins. Heh.
      My BF’s brother is here and said yes to me but no to my BF privately, after the fact, to the plan of going to a friend’s house (he’s terribly shy), throwing our plans into a tizzy—we didn’t buy any ingredients for a meal, and have very little food in the house since we use Hello Fresh. I told my BF to ask his bro ahead of time so I could tell my friend yes or no but my BF felt (for some reason?) it would be better to spring it on him.
      Then my BF asked me “how mad would I be” if he and his bro just went ski-ing today and skipping the meal altogether. UM, nuclear? Since I have no food in the house and no plan B?
      So they’re ski-ing about an hour away and coming back for the meal.

      1. Specialk9*

        That’s actually a pretty serious lack of united front (with the fun bonus expectation that you’ll Magic Fairy fix his independent overrule of your team decision).

        The individual tiffs are no big thing – just this trip, my partner and I had 3 tiffs – but you have to be able to talk through them, figure out lessons learned and new relationship rules (eg ‘before major trips we need a checklist and both need to inspect clothes before they go in the bags’), hug it out, and most of all you need to be a team. Family of origin can’t trump ‘Team Y’All’ or you will have big life long problems in that area.

        Obviously you know how much of that goes on already that you didn’t mention, but if communication and team decision-making isn’t happening, take a good hard long look at BF and your future together. Sometimes we want a relationship to work and we ignore the fatal cracks… And sometimes we’re just complaining about something that is fundamentally sound but annoying at the moment. Just keep an eye on that if it’s a trend.

      2. Coywolf*

        Am I missing something? What’s stopping you from going to dinner with your friends because they decided to go off skiing?

        1. NaoNao*

          I did forget to include that part. I spent the last couple years going as a “single wheel” to various Friendsgivings, and I really was looking forward to having my BF with me. I also don’t drive and would have to use Lyft to get to a location that’s super far away.
          S0 nothing is stopping me but I don’t want to do that.

  2. Violet Fox*

    Can I just say how much I love the picture of the cats in the cartoon turkeys, because that very much made me smile today.

    1. This Daydreamer*

      And now one of my turkeys has decided it’s time to suck on my earlobe and knead my neck. This makes it slightly awkward to do anything on my tablet.

  3. Erin*

    I just want to wish everyone a happy and safe thanksgiving! Also thanks for all of the advice. It got me out of a retail management position for a failing company that made me miserable and where I was being taken advantage of as an employee. Now I have a non management position where I average $5 more an hour and I have less than half he stress, and they were even able to give me the same two days off a week and they are back to back. which is something I begged for at my old job and was told it was impossible. I enjoy all of my coworkers and I’m even better at it than I was at my old job. Honestly I would have taken the job for even the same amount of money. Even my Gramps notices that I’m happier.

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      I worked retail for 10 years – this is awesome news! The back-to-back days off is life-changing! Congratulations!

    2. Specialk9*

      I’m so proud of you for doing the work to learn, and leaving the familiar for something new. That takes courage. I’m glad you’re on a better path.

  4. Fake old Converse shoes*

    I passed yesterday exam and I passed the entire course! Crush had to take the exam as well, and when I was given the news he tried to hug me, but I eluded so he only squeezed my arm. Now I’m waiting the results of the Tuesday one.

      1. Specialk9*

        Wait, so you have a crush on them but discouraged them with body language? Or they have a crush on you and you’re not interested so you discouraged them?

        1. Fake old Converse shoes*

          Crush is in a relationship so stable that he and his SO started living together. So, despite how much I’d love to be with him, it’s a huge no no.

          1. Anon anon anon*

            I’ve grown to enjoy Off Limits crushes. Because nothing will happen, you get to enjoy the fantasy and the warm feelings without all the complicated stuff.

  5. esra*

    Happy late Thanksgiving, Americans! I hope you enjoy… green beans and… marshmallows on things?

    I don’t actually know much about American Thanksgiving.

      1. Amber Rose*

        My sister in law made this a couple years ago, I couldn’t believe how good it was. It’s almost a crime.

      2. Artemesia*

        And if that isn’t your jam, try honey and lime juice in mashed yams with a strip of creme fraiche or sour cream on top when you serve it — also very yummy.

        1. DDJ*

          I really like this idea. A lot. I always find the marshmallows WAY too sweet, but a little bit of extra sweetness with some tang? Right up my alley. I’m not American but still, a good recipe is a good recipe.

      3. Specialk9*

        Someone on Twitter made the point that Americans don’t cook, to the point that stores make pre-made peanut butter & jelly sandwiches… But once a year we have to cook a ludicrously large bird – basically a dinosaur – and all the trimmings. Yeah, sounds about right.

        Our meal this year, for 12 people, leaning healthier than the traditional meal:
        *Appetizer: crackers and marinated cheese (uh, not healthy, but delicious!!)
        *Herb rubbed turkey with shiitake mushroom gravy and cornbread stuffing
        *Mashed potatoes (traditional)
        *Whipped potatoes & cauliflower (lighter option)
        *Roasted root veggies, yams & broccoli
        *Spinach salad w goat cheese
        *Pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and apple pie (vanilla ice cream and brandy hard sauce optional)

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

          Er, what? We don’t cook? That is a claim that needs to be backed up. Also, where can you buy a ready-made PBJ? I’ve never seen such a thing!

          1. Red Reader*

            While I agree with the first half of your commentary — next time you’re in the freezer section of your grocery store, look for “Uncrustables,” which are not only pre-made PBJ, but they already have the crusts cut off. (They’re also pretty gross. :P )

        2. Connie-Lynne*

          That sounds exactly like the traditional meal, where’s the part where it leans healthier? The cauliflower potato option?

      1. Artemesia*

        I hate the green bean casserole with the heat of a thousand suns but my daughter is bringing it this year since everyone else on earth loves it. Win win — I don’t have to make it and everyone else gets to eat it– between the fruit salad and yams I don’t need it anyway.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

          I used to be lukewarm on the green bean casserole but Mom always made it the post-war, wow, we can buy all kinds of things in cans! way. Canned green beans, canned condensed soup, canned fried onions, etc. Since I’m now in the UK and many of those things aren’t readily available (particularly the condensed soup) I’ve started making it from scratch when I do decide to do it. Starting with fresh green beans and mushrooms and using proper cream and butter for the sauce makes it much better, if a million times less healthy!

    1. Rebecca*

      Staples of our Thanksgiving meals here in central PA: turkey, filling, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with marshmallow :), green been casserole (green beans, cream of mushroom soup and French’s fried onions), cole slaw, raw veggie tray, deviled eggs, pickled eggs and red beets, cranberry sauce, baked corn, perhaps ham, and pies, like pumpkin, apple, and cherry with ice cream. Basically, a food coma waiting to happen!

      1. esra*

        So marshmallows on potatoes and green bean casserole are totally not things here at all. I basically learned about them from American Thanksgiving specials on tv.

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          At Christmas we have Danish sweet potatoes.

          No, not sweet potatoes.

          Ordinary potatoes (small baby new potatoes). Boil in skins and then carefully remove skins.

          Put butter/marge & sugar in pan and melt together until caramelises. Then add potatoes.

          1. neverjaunty*

            As soon as you said “Danish”, I knew that enormous quantities of butter and sugar were involved. ;)

        2. NJ Anon*

          I personally don’t like marshmellows on sweet potatoes. We do butter, molasses and/or brown sugar. But normally, we eat them with nothing! I thing they are delicious without anything added.

        3. Connie-Lynne*

          I was wondering the other day where green bean casserole came from. I have never been served it at thanksgiving or Christmas, but people talk about it like it’s common.

        1. Rebecca*

          We always called it filling in my family! I make it with bread cubes or torn up sort of stale bread, celery, onions, celery seed, poultry seasoning, parsley, and melted butter. Real butter, not margarine. Bake part of it in the oven to get it crispy on top, and part goes in the bird…yum!!

          1. Artemesia*

            My husband does southern corn bread stuffing; I’d prefer the bread and sage version but it is his thing and he has brought our kids up to love it. He makes one batch with smoked oysters and one with sausage. We bought a smoked turkey this year since we have no outdoor space to smoke one and are trying to figure out how to heat it up properly. The internet is not of one mind on this.

      2. Melpo*

        I am a devoted follower of the philosophy of Rayanne’s mom on My So Calles Life– all the best food is appetizers and desserts. So I skip all of the turkey and trimmings and make a huge spread of appetizers and every family and friend brings a dessert or drink. And I don’t have to figure out where to keep a turkey while it thaws!

    2. MsChanandlerBong*

      No marshmallow here! I’m doing chicken dipped in melted butter and coated in a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Ritz cracker crumbs (we’re really sophisticated around these parts, as you can tell!); mashed potatoes with chopped scallions, sweet potato casserole with a brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecan topping; green bean casserole (with cream of celery soup subbed for the cream of mushroom); stuffing made with cornbread, sausage, celery, and onions; and cheesecake with an Oreo crumb crust. I have to work from 7 to 3:30, so I did a lot of the prep yesterday (cheesecake is done, cornbread is done, sweet potato casserole has been mixed up and put in a baking dish so it can be put right in the oven, all the onions and celery have been chopped up for the stuffing, etc.). I can’t wait!

      1. esra*

        That chicken sounds really good, like… classy shake’n’bake?? Does it end up like fried chicken (which I am also enamoured with but haven’t tried making), or more like chicken fingers/bites?

        Is it necessary to use cream of etc soup for the green bean casserole? I feel like it if I made it I’d want to use some bechamel in there.

        1. kittymommy*

          I’v only made green bean casserole a few times, it was never a tradition in my house, so I would *think* bechamel might work. The only thing I’d worry about is that it may not add enough saltiness to the casserole. Green bean casserole always seems to need a certain level of salt to it.

          IMO, thanksgiving food in the states can vary wildly. Pretty much the staples have numerous variations to them: sweet potato casserole can be mashed with brown sugar, spices, marshmallows, and/or nuts all the way to large chunks of the vegetable dabbed lightly with butter with a sprinly of sugar and/or nuts. Stuffing/dressing can be sausage, oyster, cornbread, regular bread or some sort of meat stock based. And then there’s the idea that not everyone has the tradition of turkey. Thanksgiving food can be crazy! (And glorious!!)

          I myself will be going out to dinner at a local italian restaurant tonight. I’ll probably make a much smaller version of thanksgiving for myself over the weekend. Best thing is the leftovers!

        2. CAA*

          I am taking green bean casserole to dinner today. I do it from scratch, but the sauce is more like a thick cream of mushroom soup than a pure milk-based bechamel. Mushrooms chopped and browned in butter with garlic and onion, then stir in seasonings and flour to make a roux and add chicken broth and cream. Stir in the fresh green beans that have been blanched, then bake until the beans are cooked through. Top with fried onions for crunch. For me, the key is to not have too much sauce. This dish should be about the beans, not the soup. Sometimes the canned kind can be too saucy.

        3. MsChanandlerBong*

          It’s closer to fried chicken than chicken fingers, except it’s baked so it’s a lot healthier (minus the calories in the butter, but you really don’t get that much on each piece once the excess drips off). I made up the recipe based on a recipe I found online for Ritz chicken. Almost every reviewer complained that the chicken was mushy and bland (you’re supposed to use Ritz crumbs and sour cream), so I omitted the sour cream and decided to use garlic powder, salt, and pepper. The first time we had it, it was good, but it needed more flavor, so I upped the amount of garlic powder I use and now it’s just right for our tastes. The key to getting it crispy instead of soggy is to dry the chicken with a paper towel before coating it, and to bake at 425 F.

          I don’t see why you couldn’t sub a sauce for the cream soup, but I don’t know much about sauces.

        4. Mallory Janis Ian*

          That chicken sounds really good, like… classy shake’n’bake??

          We call that recipe “*Ritzy* Chicken” around here. :-)

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        We’re having turkey (if it ever thaws), stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean bacon bundles*, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes and onions (no marshmallows), rolls, and pumpkin cream pie.

        *wrap 8 – 10 whole canned green beans in 1/2 slice of bacon, securing with a toothpick. Place bundles in a large baking dish. Melt 1 stick of butter and mix in 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Pour the sauce over the green bean bacon bundles and marinate overnight. Then bake at 375 until the bacon is crisp and done. I started at 30 minutes, but I added five minutes two or three times because I didn’t want chewy bacon.

    3. Fortitude Jones*

      Yeah, my family has never done anything with green beans or marshmallows at Thanksgiving. And this year, my mom has decided to do something slightly different by making smoked bacon encrusted spicy barbecue ribs instead of a turkey and ham like she usually does, grilled cabbage, and baked macaroni and cheese (and a gluten free one for me). The last two aren’t really different sides from what I grew up on, but I am having various glazed gluten free donuts for dessert this time instead of a gluten free pumpkin or sweet potato pie. Oh, and plenty of mojitos throughout the day.

    4. Merci Dee*

      This year, we’re having chicken with cornbread dressing (bits of chicken mixed in the dressing, as well as on the side, because we dislike turkey and never serve it), green bean bundles (10 – 12 uncut green beans bundled together and wrapped with half a slice of bacon, then a bottle of French or Catalina dressing poured over before baking long enough to crisp the bacon), honey-and-orange glazed carrots, lime party salad (a congealed jello mold), cranberry sauce, crescent rolls, and pumpkin pie. Can’t wait!

      Question of the day … am I totally weird with this? I love to mix my cranberry sauce into my cornbread dressing (on my plate, obviously, not cooked into it), because of the sweet/savory thing. Am I the only person who does this? I don’t see how I could be.

        1. Merci Dee*

          You know What? I was slightly off with the dressing – not French dressing, but Russian. Kind of hard to find the smaller bottles of Russian, so I stick with the Catalina instead.

    5. Audiophile*

      The staples in my family are: turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes (which almost no one eats,) macaroni and cheese, and always a veggie. For dessert, we’d have chocolate pudding pie, and a turkey shaped cake from the grocery store.

      Happy Thanksgiving!

      1. periwinkle*

        Hurray, someone else who does chocolate pudding pie for Thanksgiving!

        Just two of us so it’s a turkey breast (sous vide using the Serious Eats recipe, with the skin roasted separately and served as shattering shards of poultry goodness), mashed potatoes for him, stuffing muffins for me, garlicky broccoli, and the chocolate pudding pie. My husband loves pumpkin pie but I hate it, and I’m doing the cooking! (no worries, he really likes the pumpkin pie from a local supermarket so he just buys those for himself)

        My mother never did the sweet potato/marshmallow casserole thing, so the first time I ever tasted it was when we had Thanksgiving dinner with my brother’s in-laws. Never did either again…

          1. periwinkle*

            This was another trick learned from Serious Eats:

            1. Make some sort of bread stuffing.
            2. Preheat the oven to 400F
            3. Butter or oil a muffin tin, fill each cup with a nice big lump o’ stuffing
            4. Bake for 35-45 minutes, depending on stuffing density and desired crunch

            Leftover stuffing muffins freeze nicely. I let them thaw naturally and then crisp them in an air fryer because crunch is essential (otherwise a microwave works fine, wrap in a slightly damp paper towel and microwave for a few minutes).

        1. neverjaunty*

          I never did the sweet potato/marshmallow casserole thing either, thank goodness. But Mr. Jaunty had sweet potatoes with brown sugar growing up, so I gave in this year and am making some for him.

        2. Audiophile*

          Oh I forgot the stuffing! Making the stuffing is a family affair, ripping apart the stale bread. I never ate the stuffing until a few years ago, but it was fun to make it when I was younger.

          We’re eating late this year, so I’m getting laundry done in the mean time.

    6. Tau*

      I thought I knew stuff about Thanksgiving, but I didn’t realise it involved marshmallows… and I also didn’t realise it was today instead of next week. (I have it in my head as “the Thursday before the first Advent”, which is apparently not true.) So I guess I don’t know much about Thanksgiving after all!

      1. Liane*

        It is the fourth Thursday in November — but don’t feel bad. I a American and think of it that way. Me at choir practice last week : “Saturday the 25th is when we decorate church?”
        Pastor: “No, it’s Dec. 2. We have an extra week before Advent this year.”

      1. Gaia*

        That is almost exactly how I explained it to my coworkers when they asked what we eat: turkey, pumpkin pie, carbs. Lots and lots of carbs.

    7. Liane*

      We decided on a very atypical plan and menu this year, partly because Son is working today (he volunteered, for the extra pay) and partly because I find the holiday difficult, since my dad passed away at Thanksgiving.
      So we ordered a lamb meal from a Mediterranean restaurant we love, and we will go see Thor Ragnarok today or tomorrow.

    8. another Liz*

      This year its smoked turkey, mashed potatoes, Company Potatoes ( shredded potatoes with cream cheese, cheddar and sour cream), green bean casserole, Reese’s peanut butter cup pie, crescent rolls, cheese and crackers, fresh veggie tray, and pumpkin pie for a family of 5. And my personal favorite, Cranberry jelly in the shape of a can!

      Ps: I won’t have to cook again until Monday ;)

    9. Ann Furthermore*

      I was informed by my husband about 10 years ago that sweet potatoes with marshmallows were a requirement for it to really be Thanksgiving.

      In addition to that, I make salsa and cheese-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon and rolled in brown sugar for appetizers. I brined the turkeys on Tuesday and they are in the smoker. I made stuffing this morning first thing…just the Pepperidge Farms stuff from the grocery store, but I add sausage to it too. My mom brings scalloped corn and a cream cheese/jello salad that have both been Thanksgiving staples since I was a kid. Some friends are bringing the green beans this year. And for dessert I make a salted caramel apple crisp an pumpkin pie truffles. And for the first time this year I’m trying my hand at making rolls. I’ve always wanted to try making some sort of bread, but we are normally a low carb house, as my husband is diabetic. Today seemed like a good opportunity. It may be remembered as the year of hockey puck rolls!

    10. SpiderLadyCEO*

      I had thanksgiving alone this year, for the first time (moved far away, couldn’t go home) and I am so proud – I made a whole roast chicken stuffed with lemons and oranges, mashed potatoes, green beans and a loaf of bread….definitely no marshmallows! I am not about that, it’s…too sweet. I am not a fan of sweet potatoes, as in any potato, sweet or white, with any sugar at all.

  6. Loopy*

    Happy Thanksgiving! I’m trying not to get too frustrated at my abysmal cooking skills ( who manages to mess up mashed potatoes?? Me. I do).

    So, in light of my Thanksgiving struggles, would it be bad form to move on to a Christmas question? I’m already looking for a stand that isn’t 100 dollars that will keep the tree from crashing into the wall. As I browsed, I wondered what other tips people had for reducing Christmas tree hassle when using real trees. I *need* a tree and sometimes it can cause no small amount of mess and stress. Tips? Tricks? :)

    1. nep*

      I would mess up mashed potatoes. That’s why I don’t attempt it. Good on ya for taking the plunge and cooking.

          1. JD*

            Oh I don’t even use milk. My mashed are so loved gravy is not even used. I find the key, besides A LOT of butter is to cut them into smaller cubes than most would when boiling, to avoid chunks. Butter, salt, pepper, mix, done. I tasted my batch I made last night for today and they are ridiculously good.

            1. Big City Woman*

              I’ve always preferred my mashed potatoes a little lumpy. I hate when they’re very smooth.

        1. Specialk9*

          Condensed milk has tons of sugar in it. Do you mean evaporated milk? It’s very thick but not sweetened.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

            Mine were looking kind of dry yesterday so I put some cream cheese in them. Very successful!

      1. Loopy*

        My issue was not cooking the potatoes enough initially so… yeah I didn’t even get to the milk stage before screwing up, haha!

        Also, I’m only splitting the cooking so we’ll have half sad messed up dishes and half perfect dishes! (guess which half mine is???)

        1. Aeon*

          When your potatoes are cooking (check after 20 minutes or so) put a fork in a potato and if it slips off really easy, they are ready. Then proceed witht he rest of the mash-making ;-)

        2. Merci Dee*

          I always make my mashed potatoes using a bag if Ore Ida Steam n’ Mash potatoes from the freezer section. Steam those bad boys for 10 minutes in the microwave, dump into a bowl and mash the heck out of them, then add in any flavor enhancers you like.

          Try a batch with 8 ounces of sour cream, 8 ounces of onion and chive cream cheese, and a bit if salt and pepper. Put the potatoes in an oven safe dish, then sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes. For the last 2 minutes of cook time, sprinkle bacon bits on top. You just want the bits to warm, not to burn.

          Easy-peasy loaded mashed potatoes, but they taste like you took hours. Also easy to double or triple the recipe for crowds – one bag potatoes, one small sour cream and cream cheese for each batch.

          1. FiveWheels*

            I would be so upset if I was offered mashed potatoes and it included anything other than potatoes, butter, milk and seasoning… But here in Ireland we consider potatoes perfect as is :-D

            1. SpiderLadyCEO*

              Seconded! If they are very fancy, they may have cheese baked on top and garlic, but all they need is butter, and milk.
              And I mash them with the skins on because I am very lazy.

            2. Anion*


              I once had Thanksgiving at a friend’s house, and they served mashed potatoes with sour cream and onions mixed in. Sour cream and onions!! I was horrified–especially since I’d taken a decent-sized helping (potatoes in any form being my favorite food) so I had to choke it ALL down to avoid being rude.

              They all loved them, and it was their normal thing, I guess, but…bleh.

        3. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Ever since I got a rice cooker, I’ve been cooking my mashed potatoes in there. I peel and cut 8 – 10 medium potatoes and add water up to the line for two scoops of rice. It cooks the potatoes to just the right doneness and holds them warm until I’m ready to mash them.

    2. MommaCat*

      Use a smaller tree up on a table! It’s easier to handle, all in all. And my sympathies with the cooking issues; mashed potatoes are one of the few things I can cook, so I feel you.

        1. nep*

          What kind of stand do you use?
          We had a stand that was pretty solid, still we used to put a small nail in the wall on two sides and tie some twine around it and the tree. (Of course, you’d have to be OK with tiny nails in the wall. This was before we redid the living room and I doubt we’d do it now.)

        2. WellRed*

          That usually means it wasn’t in stand straight so it will eventually start to lean. Also, really check tree trunk for straight ness when you buy.

    3. Bagpuss*

      real tree – have a old sheet, or plastic under the tree so fewer needles get onto/into your carpet – if you can have a sheet that’s large enough to wrap the tree in, when you take it down, that’s even better – they shed was more when you take them out! Also , listen to and follow any advice you are given about tree-care when you buy it.
      Don’t go fo rthe cheapest stand (unless you are having a tiny tree) – you want something failry heavy duty and, if you are having a cut live tree, get one that holds water as well.

      1. Alice*

        And keep the water filled up – in my stand, the reservoir is a sort of cone shape, so the weight of the extra water helps keep the stand secure.

      2. Aealias*

        I like a stand that fits over an ice-cream bucket. Put the stand over the bucket, the tree in the stand, half-fill the bucket with sand and top with water. The wet sand helps keep the base of the tree from moving around, and an ice cream bucket holds a lot of water to keep the tree fresh longer and need topping up slightly less often.

    4. WG*

      My first attempt at Thanksgiving dinner resulted in mashed potatoes the consistency of wallpaper paste, and the rest of the meal wasn’t anything to write home about. And then there was the year I forgot to remove the giblets packet from the turkey. And the year I bought a frozen turkey but not far enough ahead to fully thaw it and had to scramble to get it thawed in time to cook. Over the years I’ve figured out how to improve most of the dishes to be at least moderately edible. I know I have a dish right when I get a specific complement on that dish.

      But at least there’s always good conversation and catching up with people I don’t see often throughout the year.

    5. Elle*

      Google ‘metal Christmas tree stand’ it should show you a cylinder with 3 or 4 curly legs – have you tried one of those? We’ve always used them, and I’ve never had a tree fall over! They generally need two people – one to position the tree and tighten the screws, one to stand there and make unhelpful comments about the straightened of the tree. It can be done alone, but you’ll end up looking like you’ve crawled through a hedge.

    6. DanaScully*

      I was so thrilled to see a tip for mashed potatoes earlier this year. Use an electric whisk to beat them! I’m not sure if this is common knowledge around the world, but here in the UK we have plastic potato mashers and we do it by hand. The electric whisk is foolproof and produces deliciously smooth mash.

      1. Anion*

        (Asda is WalMart, if any Americans are wondering re the link. If Asda has it, odds are WalMart does as well.)

    7. NJ Anon*

      Check Walmart or home depot for tree stands. They make ones now where you plop the try in and can move it around and lock into place. Saved my marriage, lol.

    8. Evie K*

      Tree stand = Krinnner. It’s heavy to help prevent tipping and closes by ratcheting with cable ties from a lever you operate with your foot so one person can handle it.

      We have multiple pets so we also put the tree in a corner to make it less of a climbing treat for the cats and harder for the dog to get in behind & tip over.

      I have a friend in a many cat house that put an eye bolt into the ceiling & uses wire to attach the top of the tree to the bolt. That seems like too much work for me.

    9. Middle School Teacher*

      I consider myself a very good cook but mashed potatoes are my Achilles heel. They’re not my usual potato (I prefer roasted or boiled and pan-fried) but once in a while I crave mashed. Usually I invite myself to my parents’ for dinner when the craving hits; my mom’s are awesome.

    10. SpiderLadyCEO*

      The one we have used is similar to this one, and we’ve never had a problem. The base is wide and heavy, and the screws screw into the tree so it’s secure. It’s easy to set up, and once the tree is up we have never had it fall over.
      (We have knocked it over setting it up, but I am pretty sure that year was down to two teenagers being idiots.)

      I think ours was around $25 but this one is $10 at target.

    11. HappySnoopy*

      I got a stand from the tree farm that had a peg in middle of the metal stand. It is surrounded by a basin so you can water it. They drill a hole in the bottom of the tree every year. And I just plunk it on that peg when I get home. No screws, tilting, nails and string on wall. Just tree and stand. I tried to find a picture. The closest to mine is called a pin tree stand per google.

    12. Liz2*

      My main trick is to run cold water over the potatoes before you mash- clears out tons of the starch which makes it gluey. Then just a few pats of butter, a splash of milk, salt and pepper. Squish a few times to cut out major chunks and you’re done!

  7. I am still Furious!!*

    I have to say I was wondering what Thanksgiving and the holiday season in general would be like for me this year. Last week, my friend (who I’m staying with while my divorce moves glacially forward) asked me what I had planned for Thanksgiving Day. I said, I guess I’ll go for a hike if the weather isn’t horrible, and maybe watch some football, but I don’t have plans past that. I thought she was going to ask me to watch her dog while she traveled to her daughter’s house, but no – she invited me to her family’s Thanksgiving dinner instead! And I’m going! Yesterday I received another invite for a meal last evening. Went to that one too, and tomorrow is yet another invite, this time with my daughter and her husband’s parents.

    I am really grateful for the things I have. I have a job, a roof over my head, food to eat, can pay the bills (for now, anyway), and my health, other than of course I caught a cold so it’s Sudafed to the rescue…and most of all, friends and family who care for me.

    Things are looking up!

    1. Red Reader*

      I feel like if I was close enough to someone to let them stay with me (at all, let alone in your particular situation), I’d be close enough to invite them to Thanksgiving dinner. (And really, I’d feel a right git not doing so!)

      That said, I also deliberately do my big feast on Saturday so all my friends might be able to come even if they have family stuff on the day. I’m usually a big curmudgeon, but given a chance to feed people, I’m in. :)

      1. NJ Anon*

        We do 2 Thanksgivings! One today at my moms and one Saturday at home. Can’t wait! Made cranberry jam this morning, hubby is doing string bean casserole.

        1. I get that*

          We had 3 thanksgiving once. My family on Thursday, In-laws on Friday and I cooked on Sunday after we came home because my kids insisted on having my stuffing. Only worked because the families lived in the same areas and they had the Monday off after Thanksgiving.

      2. I am still Furious!!*

        Thanksgiving with my friend’s siblings, nieces and nephews and extended family is a pleasant surprise, as she often goes out of state to visit her son and his family on holidays. It’s so nice to be included!

    2. Loopy*

      I’ve been following your story and haven’t commented yet but I just had to jump in today to let you know how happy this makes me!!! I’m thrilled so many people reached out to you and that you’re surrounded by loved ones!

      1. I am still Furious!!*

        Me too. I will never be able to repay her kindness. I hope one day I can help someone else in a similar situation.

    3. Specialk9*

      Furious!! – glad you have good friends around during a tough time. My divorce was painful… But so necessary, and life is so much better now. Be encouraged, things get better!

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I had Friendsgiving last Saturday with my Doctor Who group–we ate and played Cards Against Humanity and laughed like crazy. It was great. I’m glad I got to do something since I knew I wasn’t going to drive over to Mum’s today. They’re all at my brother’s in-laws.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Your friend is worth her weight in gold. What a dear person.
      I am so glad that you have solid, caring people in your life.

  8. Red Reader*

    My big do is Saturday, so today is mostly low-key prep for that. My baking list for today includes another pumpkin pie, another key lime pie, two pecan pies, an apple cider cheesecake, the When Cherry Met Sally chocolate cake from yesterday’s thread (I couldn’t resist), and finishing up the spice cake I made for my mom as a thank-you. (She’s selling my housemate her car dirt-cheap instead of having used it as a trade-in, because housemate’s car is held together by chicken wire, chewing gum and hope.)

    Then I’ll make spaghetti and meatballs and salad and garlic bread for dinner tonight. :)

    1. Red Reader*

      I will note- we’re having somewhere between 18 and 22 people, and I am notorious for overdoing it on the pie and then sending half and whole pies home with my guests. Strangely, nobody objects. :) I think the end dessert total will be 9 pies, a cake, brownies, and possibly cookies if I get around to them.

    2. nep*

      When Cherry Met Sally — did you come up with that name for THE cake? (Or did it come up in the thread yesterday and I missed it?) In any case, verrry clever. Enjoy. A little.

      1. Red Reader*

        I won’t say nobody came up with it yesterday too because I didn’t look at the thread after about noon, but I came up with it last night when I was describing the cake and its associated story to my husband :) I did get the idea from other people’s referencing the iconic movie scene though, so I can only really take partial credit at most.

      1. Red Reader*

        Two softened bricks of cream cheese, a can of sweetened condensed milk, four packets of “Alpine spiced cider drink mix,” a tsp of cinnamon and a splash of vanilla, beat together til smooth and spread in a graham cracker crust. I meant to get a single serving box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch to crush and sprinkle on the top, but I forgot :)

        1. Red Reader*

          oh yeah – this probably goes without saying, but then fridge it overnight (or at least for a couple hours) to set.

      2. Librarygal30*

        I have a stack of napkins. Or, is this a bucket situation?

        Recipe for apple cider cheesecake would be most appreciated!

  9. nep*

    Does anyone follow the This Girl Can UK campaign? I was browsing its Instagram the other day. It’s got some great images and lines (‘Take me as I am or watch me as I go’), as well as people responding to questions about getting fit, motivation, and the like. Their main website’s got some nice stories too.

  10. Candygrammar*

    This Happy Thanksgiving message is brought to you by Zoloft, and a reminder to take care of your mental health. My family is not terrible by any means, but I was recently officially diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. being around them really triggers my anxiety. Just thirty-some years of low level disagreements and personality clashes really adds up.

    After much consideration I made the decision to go on meds after therapy alone wasn’t enough to cut my intrusive thoughts and keep me from constantly being a tense, irritable ball of nerves. So I’m medicated and I feel FANTASTIC. This is the first time in years I’ve been able to sit at a table with my parents and have a conversation and enjoy their company without being on edge and super defensive the whole time. I wasn’t buying into meds before this but holy hell, is it making a positive difference in how I relate to the people I’m closest to.

    1. MommyMD*

      If you had diabetes you would not hesitate to be treated for it. You are normalizing your brain chemicals that regulate mood. I’m so happy it’s working for you.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Exactly this. That you need medication for brain function isn’t any different than needing it for stomach or pancreas problems. Congrats!

    2. Matilda Jefferies*

      Same! I recently decided to pursue a formal diagnosis (and meds) for ADHD. And they have made a huge difference in my life. Hello executive function, focus, and long-term planning skills – I’ve missed you!

      Cheers to everyone who is struggling with mental health at this time of year. Take care of yourselves, however you need to do it.

    3. Red*

      Same lol, this Reasonably-Functional Thanksgiving Guest is brought to you by Lamictal, Remeron, and Xanax. Talk to your doctor today! (Obligatory decade-long list of side effects begins now)

      Seriously though, talking to your doctor about your mental health makes all the difference in the world.

    4. Junior Dev*

      I’m on antidepressants too, but this is reminding me I should probably take an Ativan before my family’s event. Although I don’t know if there will be alcohol (the person hosting doesn’t drink).

    5. Visit Minutia Mission*

      Thanks for sharing. That’s great! Yep, families and their drama can be so stress inducing can’t they?

    6. Ruffingit*

      Zoloft is like manna from heaven for anxiety. Been on it for close to 11 years now (though had a year or so off at one point due to health insurance issues). It has made the biggest difference in my life and I’m glad it’s doing the same for you!

  11. Broadcastlady*

    My best friend and her husband are in for the holidays, and she and I shared two bottles of wine last night. I had to be at work at 5 a.m. (Radio, I’m the only one here). I’m ready to go home and eat some turkey.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  12. Ramona Flowers*

    I just want to thank the community here for being awesome. You’ve helped me through a hard few weeks and you all rock.

    But nobody rocks as much as those cats. Oh yes.

  13. Loopy*

    I’m not sure if anyone watches the Macy’s Day Parade but CBS news is running a fascinating story on the costs behind that parade if anyone is interested. It costs a minimum of 510,000 dollars to fill a single balloon!

    I’d provide the link but this would get put in moderation, correct?

    1. Amber Rose*

      If you reply with the link it’ll go to moderation but Alison will probably free it up pretty quickly.
      Alternatively, you can put links in the website part of the comment form and your name will link to whatever without going to moderation.

  14. MsChanandlerBong*

    Tomorrow at around 12:30, my husband and I are taking off for a trip to a resort that’s about three hours from our house. I have been working non-stop for the past month or so, so I am badly in need of this trip. I can’t wait…three laptop-free days soaking in the hot tub, lounging around in front of a fireplace, and sitting outside on our private patio. We’re also going to be extra frivolous and eat dinner at the same (expensive) place two nights in a row. We budgeted money to spend on Black Friday, but we really didn’t see much that piqued our interest (except BOGO free cat treats at PetSmart!), so now we have extra money in case we want to buy something at one of the shops or art galleries in town. I am STOKED and can’t wait for tomorrow afternoon.

  15. Namast'ay in Bed*

    Does anyone have any advice for helping a partner who finds the holiday season to be stressful/unpleasant? I love the holidays, for me they mean joy and happiness and a special time of year when the world gets a little bit nicer. For my partner the holidays mean stress and unhappy memories. I’ve always tried to be aware and supportive of this, and he’s always been good about supporting me and participating in the things he knows are important and meaningful to me. We talk about the holidays each year and have an open and ongoing conversation about how we can support one another.

    I want to know if there’s anyway to make the holidays more enjoyable for him, or help him associate them less with stress and bad old memories? He used to enjoy Christmas when he was little, just family drama/trauma that started when he was in middle school has soured things since then. Is it possible to help him make good memories and associations moving forward?

    Let me add that I’m not trying to “fix” him or make him change his behavior – he is absolutely wonderful and does even enjoy certain Christmas activities – honestly I’m not even sure if anyone would know he dislikes the holiday season, he’s such a good-natured guy. I understand that everyone has different feelings about the holidays, it just makes me sad to know he’s suffering two months out of the year.

    1. CoffeeLover*

      I’m going to give a response that may be totally offbase since I don’t know you (or him) but here it goes.

      How are you celebrating the holidays now? You mention other people in your post, so I’m guessing at some point you’re doing holiday stuff with others that could mean a family dinner and/or holiday parties. I think a lot of stress around holidays comes from the perceived obligations around it. You HAVE TO get presents, have dinner with the in-laws, go to your friends Xmas party, go to the work party, etc. If this is what you’re doing now (nothing wrong with that – as a fellow holiday lover I’m into it), then I would suggest having one year where you do low-key, low-stress, low-obligation holidays. Skip as much stress inducing stuff as possible (like family dinner and presents) and instead spend the season enjoying each others company and doing a few holiday-themed activities together. If you don’t want to miss family dinner, go alone and say he’s not feeling well. As for the two of you, stay in and have cocoa by the fire, walk around the town to check out Xmas decorations, make gingerbread houses together. Start to build good memories with him in an environment where he can relax. The following year build on your progress by introducing some “more stressful” activities like family dinner.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I find the holidays hard. What struck me in your post was where you talked about wanting to make them enjoyable for him and help him associate them less with stress. Those are big asks, and are not really goals that anyone can make for someone else. It has taken me a lot of work in therapy just to be able to cope with the holidays. I want to enjoy them but that needs to come from me.

      I know you said you aren’t trying to fix him. I really hear that. But the questions you’re asking belong to the future, not the present. For now, just try to support him where he’s at. It may be that the holidays are a time he just has to get through, or that he needs some therapy. But I would strongly advise you try to set more realistic hopes and expectations, not least so you aren’t disappointed.

      Also, ask him what he wants.

    3. Overeducated*

      I don’t know if he is culturally or spiritually Christian, so this suggestion may not be a good fit, but the two churches I’ve been part of over the last few years have each had “Blue Christmas” services in early to mod-December for people grieving losses or processing trauma around the holidays. I think they are good for just being part of a group with shared sadness and acknowledging those feelings are valid and especially tough this time of year. They do not tend to have an optimistic, “Jesus will make it all better!” tone, more of a quiet contemplative one. If that is something you think might have meaning for him, maybe you could go to one together, or tell him about one if he’d rather go alone.

      Otherwise, I think making new traditions with you that are totally different from his upbringing (and maybe not explicitly Christmassy so they can be a “break”) could create some little lights in a dark time. I’m sorry to hear it’s tough and i think that by just accepting who he is and not trying to change his feelings, you are doing the right thing.

      1. Specialk9*

        Oh that sounds wonderful. I find the ‘our deity fixes sadness so you shouldn’t sad’ thing to be toxic, so it’s great that your church just let’s hurting people hurt, and supports them where they are. What a great thing.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Seconding this idea about blue Christmas service for grieving people. The one I go to here is very low key, soft gentle songs, and a gentle words. The best part is that everyone in attendance is there seeking the same low key atmosphere, so people greet each other quietly and warmly. The service does not get a ton of people, so you can chose where you want to sit even if you don’t get there early.

    4. Nic*

      I’m not a big fan of the holidays. I grew up in a town that was saturated in Christmas the entire month, and then have had several unpleasant events associated with them since becoming an adult.

      My biggest joy on holidays is to snuggle into my bed and forget that the holiday is anything other than a day off…or better yet go to work! They usually feed us, and there is a lot to keep my mind from going down dark holes. He may be in the same place right now. If he is, the last thing I want during those times is people who are overly excited for the holiday trying to force me to enjoy it. I appreciate offers! But after a “nah, I’m good” I begin to resent further prodding.

      I like the suggestions people have made about starting your own traditions. Find a holiday that is more tolerable (mine is Halloween) and start there, maybe? Decorating with a light touch in something that isn’t too loud about being holiday themed (evergreens vs Santas) might be a way to ease in, if he enjoys anything like that.

      I hope you two can find a place that is comfortable for both of you! Enjoy the holidays!

      1. NorCalPM*

        I’m all for “decorating with a light touch.” I put some fairy lights on my big ficus tree. Looks lovely, and it’s easy to put them up and take them down. I also buy a pine wreath to lay on the coffee table because they smell so good. That’s about it.

        It’s OK to make your own rules around the holidays. For example, I don’t like turkey and prefer lasagne, enchiladas or sushi. Don’t like football, would rather play a board or card game with friends. Etc.

        As far as invitations to holiday events I don’t want to take part in, I tell the truth: I’m spending the day with the ones I love. That “ones I love” category may change from year to year. But it’s always true. It’s a response I recommend. Vague but truthful. That excuse could also cover spending the holiday on your own.

        That usually gets the inviter to lay off, but it’s done in a gracious way. I do not want to tell many of these inviters the truth: I’d rather have a poke in the eye with a sharp stick than spend the day with you and your family/friends, stuffing myself on bland, tasteless food, drinking too much, and watching the NFL on TV. And that’s if I’m lucky, and nobody goes off on a political rant or makes obnoxious, sexist or homophobic comments.

        Last time I checked, nobody gave you or me a vote on “holiday rules.” So we’re not bound by them. I’m in my 60’s and finally figured that out a few years ago. It’s been an immense relief.

        My goals are simplicity, little or no stress, and pleasure. What are yours?

    5. nep*

      I don’t ‘do’ holidays and the best loved ones can do for me is let me do my thing, and don’t insist on placing me in situations I don’t want to be in. (They know me by now — they don’t do that, for the most part.)
      How does he want to spend the holidays? What does he say?
      Good for you for wanting to help ease his pain. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to erase it.

    6. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

      I think I’m in the same boat as your husband – except I no longer spend the holidays with anyone other than my parents (I’m single, so that’s an option). I think it would be really nice if we could start a new tradition – just something to sort of “replace” the “bad memories/feelings” so to speak. Maybe adding something low-key into the holiday rotation? Ice skating, movie marathons, volunteering with a charity, just something casual.

    7. Friday*

      Drop all family obligations, especially with his family since they’re probably stress-buckets. Build your own traditions and only see people that you both have a relaxing time with. Also be cognizant of travel time – my family is very low-stress for us but they live 2.5 hrs away, which turns into ~4hrs on holidays. So, not worth the trip.

      Husband’s family is loads of stress so we opt 100% out. We see both his and my fam, usually in smaller chunks, around the holidays but not on the actual thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Encourage him to come up with his own ideas of what he would like the two of you to do. You can say this as,”Let’s build happy new memories for you.” Then encourage him that maybe not for this year but as the years go along, start thinking about what would actually appeal to him.

      Holidays are a mixed bag for me and have been for a while. I liked knowing when it would end. This meant we would go to someone’s house and know what time we were leaving BEFORE we walked in. I totally enjoyed quiet at home time. And various little things appealed to me different years. One year we made a cake together. Another year I pulled out some old family movies. It was pretty random.

    9. Singin’ the anonymous Thanksgiving blues*

      Years ago I had a boyfriend who wasn’t keen on the holidays, but he was really keen on craft beers. So I made him a beer advent calendar with a different single bottle of seasonal brew in each pocket, along with a mushy handwritten note. He began every day by pulling out the beer, reading and commenting on the label and the note, and then putting the bottle in the fridge to chill for after work. It gave him a little something to look forward to and be happy about each day. Is there something your guy loves that would lend itself to a similar idea?

    10. Temperance*

      I’m in your partner’s situation. What worked – for me – was to create new traditions with Booth, rather than just go along with his family’s stuff. It was like a double whammy of a.) having a shit family and bad memories and b.) being expected to just enjoy another family’s celebration. We still do family shit, of course, but we’ve gone out of our way to have our own stuff.

  16. Karma*

    I wish we had Thanksgiving in Australia! It sounds like so much fun, like early Christmas. Mind you, if we did have it we’d probably put an Aussie spin on it and the food would definitely be different. Cooking a full roast turkey and hot dishes for sides during summer here is only for people who enjoy torture.

    1. kittymommy*

      It’s fun. I’m in Central FL so we don’t exactly have the weather you see in holiday movies here, but it’s not summer weather by any means. The past few years it’s been in the 80’s so lots of outdoor stuff to keeps kids busy, deep fried turkey (done outdoors for safety reasons) and air conditioning. Today it’s non-stop rain and I have to imagin quite a few plans have changed for some of my friends.

    2. CAA*

      Hah, in my part of the states we’re expecting temps of 88 F / 31 C today! We’re going to friends but they’ll be BBQ’ing the turkey, and everyone is assigned a side dish to bring so I don’t think it’ll be too hot in the kitchen. We’ll probably eat outdoors anyway.

      1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

        Yeah, it’s a record breaking 94 F in Los Angeles today. Today we’re grilling some steaks, but we’ve had tamales and tacos some years.

    3. Uncivil Engineer*

      It’s warm enough for shorts and sandals where I live and we still do all the hot dishes. We open all the windows to let the heat out. Then we eat outside. It works for us.

      1. I heart Paul Buchman*

        If you tried that in outback Australua where I am you would be over run by flies in about two minutes! It is not an option here to cook meat with the windows open unless you eat under a mozzie net (one of many reasons we cook outdoors for Christmas) after dusk however roast away.

        1. Pommette!*

          I’m in Canada. From May to September, it’s impossible to open windows without being overrun by mosquitoes. Every house has window screens to avoid that issue (people either leave the screens up permanently or install them in the spring/take them down for the winter). They work really well for letting the breeze in while keeping the insects out.

          So now I am intrigued: are window screens not a thing in Australia?

    4. Felicia*

      We have Thanksgiving in Canada (in October) but from what I can tell it’s not nearly as much of a big “thing” as it is in the US.

      US Thanksgiving sounds like too much work to me, but I’ve also never celebrated Christmas (and don’t want to).

      1. Sylvan*

        US Thanksgiving is usually kind of a potluck affair, but God help you if you’re the only cook in the family.

      2. DDJ*

        I always find Thanksgiving (also in Canada) to be sort of “Christmas lite.” People still get together and it can be a pretty big thing, but it’s just the meal. I actually really enjoy Thanksgiving because Christmas always seems more stressful (so many more expectations). We also tend to do Saturday/Sunday dinners and then everyone has the Monday off, which does make a difference. I don’t know many people who actually celebrate Thanksgiving on the Monday!

      3. Lissa*

        Yeah, in Canada I think it varies from “a fairly big deal” to in my social group – “half of us forget about it until right before”

    5. Sylvan*

      A Thanksgiving cookout would be awesome. Grilled turkey, grilled corn or veggies, a cold potato dish, salad with dried cranberries and toasted pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin or pecan ice cream?

    6. DDJ*

      I was in Australia for Christmas once and as a Canadian, it was a very weird experience! Barbeque and daiquiris on a patio…it was strange not to have a white Christmas and a turkey, but it was a lot of fun.

    7. WillyNilly*

      You are certainly welcome to celebrate Thanksgiving! One of the very best things about it is its so inclusive. Its non-religious, non-gift giving, and its about celebrating with those around you. And while there are some common foods, there’s no rules on food other than there be food; really the point is to share your bounty and your culture and your favorites with those around you.
      All you need for Thanksgiving is a thankful heart and some food to share. Everyone should get in on it!

    8. Aussie academic*

      Fellow Aussie here and I’d also love a celebration where we are thankful for all the great things in our lives. Where I am (Brisbane), we’ve had a fairly mild spring and it looks like summer is going to be the same, mostly sitting in the mid 30s (Celsius – I think around 95 F). Which is a relief from the 40+ days! However, we still do the full cooked Christmas dinner, and it’s hideous with the oven going full blast. No air conditioner in the world can manage the heat from both inside and out! So maybe it’s just as well that we don’t have thanksgiving too!?

    9. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

      I saw a recipe for pumpkin pie ice cream in my search for recipes. That seems like a good fit. ;-)

  17. Fake old Converse shoes*

    The people in the office are blasting party music, singing and the women improvised a fashion competition, catwalk included. I swear there is no alcohol in sight.

      1. Fake old Converse shoes*

        It would be… if we would all invited. I’m supposed to do actual work while the rest party hard.

        1. Nic*

          My condolences!

          I supervise 1/4 of a team that provides 24/7/365 support for computer systems, and that leaves us out of not only holidays, but fitness classes, workshops, and other activities that people in different departments have the opportunity to enjoy. It’s no fun to be one of the only ones working while everyone else has a blast (or a day off!)

  18. Amber Rose*

    We had Thanksgiving last month, but happy holiday to all the lovely Americans on AAM today. :)

    I’m already looking around for a turkey for Christmas, since they can sit in the freezer however long but if you wait too long, you get the poor quality leftover ones. As I was looking them over, it occurred to me I’ve come a long way since the first time I cooked a turkey. Back then it sounded easy: defrost, put in pan, throw in oven ~4 hours.

    What I wasn’t counting on was how gross a giant, raw turkey is. I got the plastic bag off, and the bloody ice water went whooshing out of it, and the skin was kind of purply and squishy and then, then I realized, I had to reach INSIDE to get the neck and giblets out. I called my mom in a panic, because I knew how to cook more or less, but what was I supposed to do if I couldn’t handle how gross it was?

    She never answered, she was too busy laughing at me.

    So I hung up on her and went and got a giant pair of like, rubber dish gloves so I wouldn’t have to touch anything. Also I used tongs. I stuffed it poorly with a spoon. And then I left the rest to my husband so I could go lie down. He was ALSO laughing at me. Dinner turned out OK despite it all.

    It’s been around 6 years since then, and I’ve cooked a bunch of turkies. Now it’s husband who runs from the room while I laugh, since I tend to shove my hand under the skin to put little pats of butter on the meat. Helps keep it moist, but he says watching my hand under the turkey skin reminds him of like, Alien. :D

    1. Weekday Warrior*

      We had no idea how long it would take to defrost a turkey. We have photos of that sucker in the weak Ontario December sunlight on Xmas morning before we smartened up and put it back in the fridge to defrost. We ate it Boxing Day and now we just bake a rolled turkey breast. No more fights with a whole bird!

      1. Amber Rose*

        It takes about a week in the fridge, and I’ve definitely had to chip blocks of ice out of a couple I didn’t take out soon enough.

      2. esra*

        Ugh rolled turkey breast is so much easier. Occasionally I’ll do the full turkey, but most of the time I’m like, we are 2-5 people gathering. We cannot eat 15lbs of turkey.

      3. periwinkle*

        Cold-water defrosting, it’s a wonderful thing. Still takes hours with a whole frozen turkey and you’ll need to keep changing the water out to keep it safe, but nevertheless, it works.

        But yeah, just dealing with parts is easier than that whole monstrous bird looming over everything else in the fridge.

    2. Overeducated*

      Good for you. I have still never made a turkey, and I cook mostly vegetarian so prepping chicken for roasting even grosses me out a tiny bit. When you have to chop apart limbs raw, even worse! I always volunteer to cook sides and/or desserts for the big holiday meals, and the one time I hosted guests I made brisket.

    3. DDJ*

      The day I learned you can cook a turkey from frozen was a great day. I’ve done it several times now and it always turns out well. The instructions I use are for a 12-13lb turkey, so it won’t necessarily work if you’re feeding 20 people. But it’s really awesome not to deal with a thawed turkey! It’s just a much cleaner process.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I had a similar ordeal when I first cooked a fish fillet. It freaked me out that the skin was on it. I only eat meats/fish because my health requires it. I have tried going without and that does not work. So it did not take too much to set me on edge.
      Time has been kind. I learned my dog would eat the skin parts for me. Win-win, we were both happy with that.

  19. Giving thanks for winter veggies*

    I recently tried roasted parsnips for the first time (they’re not common where I used to live) and I may be addicted. I’ve never really roasted vegetables before and I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot of potential deliciousness!

    1. kittymommy*

      I had roasted parsnips for the first time last year at a friend’s house. I ate all on my plate, went back for seconds and when those were gone, seriously contemplated going around to other plates and eating the one’s they left.

      Yeah, they were alright… ;)

    2. Overeducated*

      Roasting opened up whole new categories I thought I hated in my early 20s – broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, really all the cruciferous ones. Delicious!

      1. DDJ*

        Roasted broccoli and cauliflower with: olive oil, butter, garlic, and a sprinkle of Parmesan right at the end.

        Or a whole roasted head with mayo and garlic and Parmesan. So ridiculously good.

        And for Brussels sprouts, we were tasked a few years ago with making basically a single serving to bring to either Thanksgiving or Christmas, because there was one relative who really liked them, but no one else ever ate them.

        Well, now we bring roasted Brussels sprouts to EVERY big family holiday because everyone eats them!

    3. Midwest Red Sox Fan*

      Roasted cauliflower is amazing. If you’ve never had it prepared that way, it’s like a whole new vegetable! The cauliflower takes on a nutty flavor. Delicious.

    4. nep*

      Oh man — just had some last night. I’ve been making roasted parsnips for a few months now. So good. (Roasting vegetables is really amazing.)

    5. oranges & lemons*

      I recommend Jamie Oliver’s recipe for roast carrots, parsnips and potatoes. I always make roast potatoes, as I like them a lot better than mashed.

    6. Middle School Teacher*

      Roasted is the only way I’ll eat beets. Golden beets are incredible after about 30-40 minutes in the oven.

    7. NeverNicky*

      Roast parsnips (and carrots) with a drizzle of honey … yum!

      When I was growing up, we didn’t have parsnips because my mum (the reluctant cook, who wouldn’t let us cook either) didn’t like them. I can’t believe she deprived us for so long! When we have roast dinners at her’s now, due to demand she will cook them but they are frozen pre-prepared ones – but still heaps better than no parsnips!

    8. AcademiaNut*

      I’m a big roasted vegetable fan. Cauliflower with lemon, anchovy paste, parmesan, garlic and breadcrumbs and beets and carrots with cumin are two of my favourites.

      One tip – if you want roasted vegetables and have limited time (like on a weeknight), cut the vegetables into bite-sized cubes, microwave them for about two minutes, toss with oil, spread on a pan and roast. The microwaving jumpstarts the cooking process and the oven finishes it.

      Diced roasted vegetables are also really good in grain based salads dishes – as a salad, or served warm. Buckwheat/soba with roasted beets, onions and carrots, some fresh herbs, and a bit of lemon juice and olive oil, for example, is delicious.

    9. DanaScully*

      Try roasting them with a drizzle of honey if you haven’t already. It caramelises and is oh so delicious!

  20. CoffeeLover*

    So I semi-recently moved to one of the nordic countries…. and it has been really hard to get to know people. I’m 8 months in and still don’t have a single person I would call my friend. I’ve heard from several expats that this is really common here and it has taken them years to make friends.

    I’ve been struggling with this for a while, but now I’ve gotten to the point where I’m kind of embracing the solitude. I’m part of a couple of meetups including a bookclub, so I get a little bit of social interaction that way. Plus my husband’s friends (he’s a local) hang out with us from time to time. This basically translates to about 2 social outings a month… a far cry from my pervious life, but it’s okay. I don’t have deep conversation with people, but I have a pretty good time in the company of other adults.

    Overall though, I’m trying to change my perspective and I think I’m succeeding. This lack of social-time gives me a lot of time to do all those things I’ve been meaning to do. To read, to learn how to a make websites, to craft. It’s given me time for some serious introspection. It fuelled me to find a job (no small feat in a new country). I’m almost starting to think it’s a good thing. That maybe I “wasted” too much time doing social things before. I guess I’m finally seeing the downside of being a social butterfly.

    I would love to hear what you think about this. Have you ever been in a situation like this before? Or have you been in the opposite – where you think you spent too much time socializing? Is there such a thing as too much socializing?

    1. Overeducated*

      The one year I completed NaNoWriMo was the year I was living alone in another country – and that was Turkey, where people are pretty friendly! I have heard the Nordic countries are harder to break into socially as well. I think it’s awesome that you are enjoying solitude and hobbies. I guess there is never enough time to do all the things we want in life.

    2. Annie Mouse*

      I’m kinda a bit different, maybe the opposite. I’ve never been a hugely social type of person, I have a few really good friends and plenty of people I am friends with but don’t really socialise with.
      The last few months, I’ve had a bit of a change at work, decided to give a local ‘solo’ night at an activity, made some friends and am finding myself with something social to do at least once a week! I’m really liking it, having a small group of friends that make me feel like I belong and behave like adults. Still love my alone time but enjoying the change.

      I don’t think you ‘wasted’ time socialising in the past, because presumably you enjoyed it at the time, you’re just after different things now. If that makes sense!

    3. NorCalPM*

      Yes, I’ve been in a situation like yours. When I first moved to the SF Bay Area about 30 years ago it was shortly before the holidays. I didn’t want to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with people I barely knew, so I spent Thanksgiving Day hiking the 9.5-mile perimeter around Lake Chabot. It was sublime. I still think of it sometimes, because it was a magical experience. It touched me deeply.

      Too much or too little socializing is relative to your needs – ALL your needs. If your socializing is keeping your from getting other things done that you need/want to get done, I guess that’s too much. Only you can say.

      Sounds like you’re getting something useful out of this experience and exploring your needs differently. As you make real friends, in time, you’ll probably see things differently. Just do what feels right for you, and you’ll be doing it right…for right now. Things change. Go with it.

    4. Specialk9*

      I lived in Switzerland, and because they are a majority transient foreign worker country (some mind blowing amount like 70% or more of the country is transient – 3 years tops), they just have NO interest in wasting time on foreigners who will be gone soon anyway.

      I’ve never been so lonely. (And I’ve lived in other countries plenty, so it wasn’t the usual cycle of living abroad.)

      Switzerland is the most beautiful country imaginable, in which to be enveloped in utter bleak depression.

      I tried everything. Eventually my main hobbies were running, reading, learning the local language, and going to sleep at 6 pm. What I learned too late was that the trick was to join a paid hobby club, for hiking or sports. I just didn’t know.

      I’d suggest asking, outright, to locals you know. “I don’t have local friends and I’m feeling lonely. What would be a good way to meet people here?” It’s startling how many people are utterly incapable of imagining how outsiders feel, but sometimes presenting the problem can help them know to reach out more. They may also know the intel. “Well you should come to the salmon salting night at the church” (or whatever local thing that you could never guess).

      Also, you might hint to your husband that without friends you’re not going to want to stay. (Because you’re already in “hey this isn’t really *that* bad, not having friends means I can catch up on CSI, I’m just going to bootstrap myself into not being unhappy by force of will! See I’m smiling!” mode, and it’s not even winter, dark cold nordic winter.) Because he likely wants to live there – make it clear it’s not a you problem, it’s a him problem too. He is the one with local connections and knowledge.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        Ya I’ve also lived in other countries and never had this problem. I’ve talked to others here and it sounds like I’m not alone in my struggles. Expats tend to only stay for a few years and locals take years to get to know (to break through that acquaintance stage and get to the friendship bit).

        I’ve talked to my husband about it. He knows and he tries, but he’s also a local and has the same kind of local tendencies. He barely meets up with his friends and even though I’ve met a few of them several times, it’s still like we just met. It’s a different way of socializing. As for staying here long term, it’s not going to happen and my husband is okay with that. I basically have to power through a few years and I think I can do it with a mentality switch. If I had to stay long term, I would be pretty depressed about it.

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Nordics are very tricky for socialisation, which is why I refuse to move to partner’s home country of Sweden. I dont need a lot of social interaction but I need some, and while we have a large friend group, we also don’t have kids which limits everything even more.

      Actually it sounds like you’ve got a pretty good “social life” for a Nordic resident (aren’t you in Sweden actually?) – thats about the level I would expect most Swedes to manage. Its hard to go out to restaurants and bars like you would in the US because everything is so expensive (and pretty mediocre), but having people over all the time gets to be a pain too. Swedes don’t tend to be spontaneous people either! Its ironic considering how much Ikea advertising loves to show people getting together for a dinner or something :) But its just a different approach to life where Family really comes first and foremost, and time moves slower than in the US, and pleasures are a bit more “simple”. Doesn’t make it right or wrong, just different.

      Ive noticed as Ive gotten older that regardless of where we are living, I just don’t go out as much now as maybe I used to in my late 20s early 30s. People have their family life or other activities, and it can be hard to form new friendships when people work late too. I did go through a period two years ago when I was going out three or four times a week here in London due to work stuff and a more active sports club, but that got exhausting for me and I never felt like i had any downtime. Now I go out a few times a month (theatre, dinner, drinks, etc) and it feels more manageable, AND gives me time to do my own thing. Other Half goes to lots of gigs on his own and sometimes out with workmates and that seems to be enough for him. Both of us are introverted and like the quiet, but I imagine for an extrovert it would be more challenging to make the adjustment, especially if you have essentially moved to the Land of the Introverts.

      I would suggest,however, looking into joining a club or something with a weekly planned schedule for the winter because cabin fever is real and that darkness will get to you.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        Yep it’s sweden. People are definitely more introverted and prefer to spend time at home and doing hobbies. I never thought of myself as an extrovert until coming here. I realized I crave more social interaction than I expected. I’m also someone that’s very open and tends to make friends quickly so this longer process has been hard to accept.

        I’m starting a new job this winter which I’m hoping will get rid of some of the winter cabin fever blues. Other than that, at least I’m saving moving only going out twice a month!

    6. Not That Jane*

      I’ve been in a similar situation… when I moved to a new city for a job in 2009, and my boyfriend (who stayed behind) broke up with me a month later. I was 27, so several years out of college, and I knew almost no one in my new area.

      I have to say, it took a good 4 or 5 years in my new city before I felt like I had a community of people to socialize with on more than a superficial level. That could be tough sometimes… but I also had some false starts at friendships that I really wanted to become close, but which didn’t really gel. I’m actually glad I didn’t put a ton of pressure on myself to make those connections solidify into friendships – it left room for real friendships to happen later.

      And yeah, to your other question, I definitely socialized too much in college, and it kind of got in the way of studying or finding my own passions sometimes. I think it’s good to find a personal balance.

  21. anon24*

    My cat was sick this past weekend. Throwing up all over the place. Sunday he stopped eating. Monday he was so lethargic he would cry when he was touched but couldn’t resist. I was so worried about him because he’s my little buddy and takes care of me when my mental health starts to deteriorate. I took him to the vet first thing Monday after he threw up 3 times in 20 minutes and they gave him an anti-nausea shot. But Tuesday he still wasn’t eating so I called the vet and was able to go up Tuesday afternoon and get an appetite stimulant. He started eating late Tuesday night and yesterday morning was demolishing any food I gave him. This morning he woke me up at 6am begging for his breakfast. I’m so beyond thankful that he’s back to being himself. He’s being somewhat ornery and every time he does something mischievous I keep picking him up and hugging him and telling him how glad I am that he’s better. I canceled all my commitments so I could stay with him all day Monday and Tuesday to make sure he was ok. He’s my first cat and neither him or my other cat has ever been really sick so I felt like an overprotective momma but I couldn’t stop worrying. So so thankful today for his health!

    1. Windchime*

      I’m so happy that he is feeling better! You were smart to take him to the vet right away; cats can’t last very long without food and it can be tough to break that cycle of sickness. It sounds like you are a very conscientious pet owner and I bet he is thankful for you, too!

    2. tigerStripes*

      I’m glad he’s OK. I’ve heard that 100% pumpkin can be good for kitty stomachs, but you might want to check with your vet first.

  22. Courtney*

    This is part rant and part needing advice.

    My in laws, particularly my mother in law, have always favored their daughter over my husband. This bleeds over into how they treat the grandchildren as well. We rotate years for who we spend Thanksgiving with. It’s their turn. Except this year, for the first time ever, sister in law will be going to her in-laws for Thanksgiving. So my husband’s parents are going out of town. It may be petty, but I’m super annoyed. On years we can’t come to Thanksgiving, they always still celebrate with sister in law. But the year we can come and she can’t? Yeah, they’re leaving town.

    This on its own wouldn’t bug me, but ugh. It’s the fact that her and my mother in law see each other every day, and mother in law babysits her kids multiple times a week, comes to all of their special events at school, etc. Meanwhile, they haven’t seen our kids in literally months, and on the rare occasion we ask them to babysit, half of the time we get some lame excuse. And we don’t live further away than sister in law. They even take expensive trips together, paid for by my mother in law of course. For Christmas, my mother in law wants to make present buying easy on herself with matching gifts, so my kids are getting X TV show toys because that’s what sister in law’s kids wanted – even though one of my kids has no interest in that show. My kid’s cousins treat them like shit (tell them they hate them, to go away, etc), and no one does anything about it.

    I want to say screw it and not go there on holidays anymore, even their super sacred family Christmas Eve party. We’re treated like second class citizens in our own family – why should I expose my kids to her shit so that she can take some pictures of them to gush and make herself look good on Facebook? My husband doesn’t care – says he’s used to the whole favored child thing, and he doesn’t mind if we don’t see them.

    The whole thing is basically about control for my mother in law. She initially was close to me (seems to be a girl preference thing), but she pulled away hard when husband and I wouldn’t go along with what she wanted on everything from raising our kids to our house decor. I’ve seriously had to have conversations with her about why my baby can’t have an ice cream float, or why it’s not okay for her to go peek in the windows of houses we’re considering buying (what else was she supposed to do, we wouldn’t bring her with us to the showings and let her pick our house!) When it became clear I wasn’t going to let her run my life, she pulled way back. It’s so petty and I want to be done with it.

    The weird thing is she’s practically a clone of my own grandma, my dad’s mom. So I know the pain of being the less favored grandkids and hearing grandma talk shit about your mom. And now I need to protect my own kids from it…and I don’t know how. My feelings are extra complicated because one of my dad’s relatives abused me as a child/teen, and when it came out, my grandma and the rest of the family (minus my dad) cut me off. So mother in law reminding me of my grandma has some pretty awful raw feelings linked to it for me.

    Blah. I just don’t know what to do about them I’m the future. If I try to be closer, let them go, some middle ground (probably the right answer but also a frustrating one.) I don’t know.

    1. anon24*

      It sounds like this whole situation is just not good for your kids. I think it would be the right thing to stop taking them to see her or their cousins if they don’t want to go. It’s ok to let go. My dad’s family always treated my mom and my siblings poorly, and I hated having to spend holidays with them because it always involved sitting on a couch with everyone pointedly ignoring us the entire time. It was so stressful. My moms side of the family never liked me (I was an odd child) and I still remember the hurt and loneliness of being the only kid left out of the fun. Because of this, I am a person who doesn’t really believe in family. If you are bad for me and make me feel so much less than you, why should I hang out with you? Because we share some DNA? Nope, I’ll spend my time with people who don’t drag me down. I cut off contact with most of them when I was a teenager and I’ve been so much happier since.

      1. anon24*

        After rereading your comment a third time, I feel like I totally missed the point I was trying to make in my comment. In short, if she’s trying to control you, is disrespecting you and your family, and treating your kids poorly, don’t feel guilty about cutting off contact. I would consider allowing your children the ability to choose whether they want to spend time with her and respecting their choice. Good for you for not allowing her to control and manipulate you!

      2. neverjaunty*

        Agree. It’s great for your husband that he’s made peace with it, but it’s not fair for him to assume that his kids are A-OK with their grandparents being jerks. I vote for you going with your instincts and skipping the next round with these bozos.

        1. Anon anon anon*

          Have you talked to the kids about it? Both of my parents had strained relationships with their parents. We would visit them a lot, but there was also a lot of grumbling and extreme pressure to “be on your best behavior!”, ie, “Grandma is evil. We don’t like her. But be really nice to her! Just don’t get close to her or start to like her!” It sent a really confusing message. I would have appreciated a more honest conversation along the lines of, “Grandma is admirable in these ways, but she also has these issues. What do you think? Have you noticed the same things? What do you think is the right thing to do?” Because it’s a big Life Question – how do you handle family members who treat you badly? Spend time with them anyway or distance yourself? If the kids are old enough, could you have that kind of conversation?

          I don’t have kids. I know it’s more complicated than it seems from a non-parent perspective. But those are my thoughts.

    2. T3k*

      It’s ok to cut people out of your life if they’re toxic. Just because they’re family doesn’t give them the right to treat you like crap. Think of it another way: if this was a friend you were talking about, you’d probably drop them as a friend after they treated you repeatedly like this, so why not family that treats you the same way?

    3. Somnambulist*

      Don’t go over there anymore. Start your own tradition. This year I have opted out of all family holiday get togethers to avoid toxicity.I will actually enjoy the holidays for once.

    4. NorCalPM*

      I see nothing good in what you’re describing. Why put up with it? You say your husband would be OK with not seeing these people, so you have no push-back there if you decide not to go.

      Forget the “rules” about family and the holidays. Give yourself permission to actually enjoy the holidays! And that probably means not spending them with these toxic jerks. Believe me, you won’t be the only one to wake up, smell the burnt coffee, and decide you’d rather have tea or hot buttered rum. Many people decide not to spend the holidays with family. It’s a thing. You’re not alone. Not by a long shot.

    5. Claire from London*

      That sounds like a really fraught situation, particularly the fact that she is bringing up very strong feelings for you relating to some horrible stuff in your past. I don’t really have advice, just a few questions that might help you clarify your thoughts. 1. What does your husband feel about this favoritism and how does he want to react? 2. How do your children feel about it? Do they ignore their cousins’ behaviour, do they roll their eyes or are they hurt? 3. How would you like to spend christmas and other celebrations? (Not necessarily whether with his family or not, more what would you like to do as a family, games, food, movies, going out? All of the above, none of the above?)
      You might also find some therapy sessions (even short) to talk out your feelings about your mother-in-law and the fact that she is so powerfully reminding you of being abused and betrayed helpful. Feelings like that can clarify our judgement, but they can also muddy it and I’d guest from what you’ve written that this is causing you to distrust those feelings. So – in short – some time with somebody to unpack what is going on for you may really help you to work out what you want (in a positive way), rather than just reacting to her. Good luck and I’m sorry you are going through this.

      1. Courtney*

        You pretty much hit the nail on the head with how my history is affecting this – it is making me distrust my own judgement, because it’s hard to tell when it’s really about her and when I’m extropolating my past experiences onto this one. I think you’re right about needing to talk to a professional about it.

    6. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

      Like you and your children, I was the less favored grandchild. (At a dinner celebrating one of my achievements she told me my parents never wanted me and I was a mistake…I was 12). I don’t have children myself, but I think as far as making sure this doesn’t mess your children up emotionally (as it did me, a bit), just communicate with them – let them know that they can choose to not have her in their life at any time. It was the most freeing moment for me (granted, I waited until I was 18 because I didn’t have that kind of support). Yes, it will probably be hard for your husband to hear if he hasn’t realized it. My dad cried when I told him I wanted nothing to do with her. It’s a horrible situation, and I’m so sorry.

    7. Book Lover*

      Do you have your husband’s support? It sounds really poisonous for your kids to be exposed to that favoritism and I’d avoid her at special occasions if you could do it as a united front. It doesn’t mean complete cut off, but your holidays should be pleasant for you and the kids. Fortunately she has made the decision for you for today.

    8. Newbie*

      My mom was in a similar position as your husband. She spent decades (over 30 years) trying to be part of the family circle that mattered, but in the end she had to accept that the love she felt for them as family wasn’t returned. While what they did wasn’t fair, it was better to stop trying and move on. It made me sad to watch my mom essentially beg for scraps from her own family. I wish she had stopped much sooner.

      You don’t owe your in-laws anything. It’s more than okay to put your kids, your husband and yourself ahead of their desire to look good on Facebook.

      I say make your own plans and memories. You never know what kids will remember. One of my favorite holiday memories is making funny face pancakes with my mom & dad and my stomach aching from so much laughter. The relatives that treated my mom like an outsider? I don’t know what they did that Christmas morning, and I don’t care.

      Good luck.

    9. copy run start*

      I would let them go, honestly. It doesn’t sound like your husband has any driving desire to be close with them or try and fix things, your mother-in-law is very disrespectful of your family’s desires and choices, and your children’s cousins treat them awfully. I think it would be better to protect your kids from this toxic family dynamic. In my experience, the cousins won’t get any better if that’s how the adults treat you and your husband now. It will become the norm going forward.

      My parents are the family outcasts and the attitude of the adults definitely bled into how the rest of the family treated me. I was accused of bullying the “golden child” cousin, constantly told I was a liar when said cousin picked on me and routinely ridiculed by the other cousins for everything under the sun. And their attitudes haven’t changed with age — the last time I went home they either completely ignored me or dumped all the babysitting and clean up tasks on me. I resent my father for forcing us to go to every family gathering*. Attending other people’s holiday gatherings just reminds me of how horrible my experiences were and the loving family that I missed out on.

      *If I go home, he still forces us to go even though I’m an adult, so now I just don’t go home for the holidays.

    10. Me2*

      Please head over to reddit’s subreddit JustNoMIL. You’ll find tons of advice and some laughs along the way. I’ve learned so much from that site. I’d add to the comments above, especially if your spouse is supportive, just don’t go. Family can be what you make, not just biology, and kids always know when another kid is being treated better. You don’t want your kids to think they’re second class, which it sounds like the cousins are treating them as. Good luck!

    11. LCL*

      Look at it this way. Evil MIL has given you the only gift she is capable of giving for Thanksgiving-her absence. And your husband is OK with not seeing them, this is huge. Have an extra cocktail with your loving family.

      After this holiday, decide how close you want to be to her. Sounds like the price of closeness is letting her run your life. Decide accordingly. Do you really want to see MIL as much as SIL does?

      1. Courtney*

        This is a great point – I don’t want to be as close to her as SIL is! I don’t want her running, or even trying to run, my life! My mother and I have a very close, but healthy relationship – we see each other every couple of weeks, she dotes on the grandkids and has an overnight with them every month or so, and we talk quite a bit. But we have boundaries, she very rarely gives me unsolicited advice, and we can agree to disagree on things.

        Obviously I will never have that kind of relationship with MIL, and neither will my kids or husband, because she isn’t capable of that – she refuses to be. While I know that, I guess I just feel badly for my husband and kids. Need to let it go.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Don’t feel badly for your kids! They’re learning early about boundaries and the ability to say no, I won’t allow you to treat me this way. That’s actually a gift of sorts to them since it takes a lot of people a lifetime to learn about boundaries and their importance. Also, they have a fabulous grandparent in your mom – let your children have the peace that comes with being around someone who wants them and loves them. Let yourself and your husband have that peace too!

    12. Don't Blame Me*

      Don’t go. It’s not worth it. Your husband doesn’t care and it will be better for your kids not to be subjected to that. That said, though, your MIL will probably freak out the first time you tell her you’re not coming. Prepare yourself for it, do what you can to ignore it, and stay strong. If you can, have your husband be the one to tell them you’ve made other plans and won’t be attending.

      This sounds similar to my in-laws. My husband is the un-favorite. This year the in-laws said they weren’t doing Thanksgiving because she didn’t feel well enough to cook. She wanted to go to a restaurant instead (but the favorites said no.) Last night my husband tells me that that favorites have apparently demanded that MIL cook, so now they are having Thanksgiving but we’re not there because I bought/planned for our own Thanksgiving at our house because they said they weren’t doing it. (eye-roll)

    13. Not So NewReader*

      Here’s a story of a family I know of, I can’t name the relationship here.
      Three kids, girl, boy and boy.
      The youngest son pretty much ignored the overbearing parents. The girl and the older boy, tried to be good children to their parents. Guess who the parents chased after? Yep, the rebellious younger son. The two (adult) children who tried to do what they were “supposed” to do for their parents got the griping and the complaints and got yelled at. The parents mostly talked about the Golden Son who basically ignored them. This left the Dutiful Ones saying, “BUT I am here! What am I chopped liver?”

      When we have to beg for love, what ever crumbs we get are NOT LOVE. It some torqued out, distorted, dysfunctional idea of what love should be. It’s not love, this means there is no satisfy ending. And it can mean that one gains a jaded view of life, believing that life is just too harsh and not seeing the love and kindness that IS out there.
      See, when we chew up our time chasing after someone to get them to love us, we give up/sacrifice time that could have been spent with loving/kindly people. This is a variation on the concept of staying in a toxic workplace too long, we get the wrong idea of how workplaces should be. In life, we get the wrong idea of how people treat each other.

      My story does not end well. Older son died young. In his final months he was amazed to find out how many caring people their are in this world. He said, “My parents had a weird worldview that simply is not true.”
      Indeed, his parents were the very people they themselves feared meeting. It’s odd how that works.

    14. Specialk9*

      That’s not even remotely petty. That’s very serious on its own, but especially with the overall pattern. My in-laws did something similar once, and my hubby said something and they’ve been careful since. That’s how people with good intentions act.

      My sister was just talking about this tonight, how her husband was the tarnished-brass child neglected for the golden child (also due to a controlling mother), and how it rolled into how grandkids were treated. Apparently the 4 year old thought her grandmother had died because that was when the golden child had kids. My sister’s kids were dropped like soiled underpants in favor of the good kids, and it’s been that way ever since. Kids realize these things and it *hurts* them.

      Cutting off those who reliably mistreat you and your kids is good parenting. Don’t let anyone pressure you differently. (There are people who believe in coercive forgiveness, usually in response to their own lives – people who didn’t have the good mental health to set boundaries against controllers, or people who routinely trample boundaries.)

    15. Not That Jane*

      You also might want to check out Reddit’s Raised By Narcissists community. Not diagnosing your MIL, but the family dynamics of one favored child and one scapegoat are discussed in depth over there, and you might find some practical advice.

  23. T3k*

    I realized I haven’t said thanks to this blog and community yet. It took me over a year to find employment again, but thanks to this blog I not only landed a job in my dream industry but also pays so much better than my last jobs that I can finally afford to move out of my parents’ house since graduating 4 years ago.

  24. Overeducated*

    I adore this cat picture. It made me laugh out loud when I loaded the page.

    My Thanksgiving plans involve spending 4 nights and 3 days at my parents’ (they live a fair distance so we traveled into the night last night). They are great cooks and thoughtful hosts and I get credit just for schlepping the only grandkid across four states.

    But, and there is always a but, it is only 10:30 am and said grandkid has already played with all the toys, run around outside, and we have given in to early TV. How are we going to keep him entertained for 3 days?!

    1. Book Lover*

      Relax, enjoy quiet time while TV is a distraction, then try music and dancing, maybe go fish or dominoes if old enough. Repeat outside and run round in circles as needed. My opinion, if everyone survives just about intact it doesn’t matter if there is too much screen time. :)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I was an only myself. I did need the adults to take some interest in me here and there, but basically it was up to me to entertain myself. I think Gkid will be okay factoring in the change in environment, that always helped me. New things to look at, different people to talk to = it really doesn’t take much.

  25. RebeccaNoraBunch*

    It’s my birthday! I am now (or will be, at 10:54 tonight) halfway to 40. I cannot believe it. I do not feel this age.

    I live several states away from my family so they are on their way south to take me to dinner for our Thanksgiving and will spend the weekend here til Saturday. I hope it will be a nice, relaxing time.

    This year brought a lot of things: I fell in love and thought I was going to spend forever with a young man (finally!), he absolutely shattered my heart when he broke up with me, and I ended up channeling the resulting energy/devastation into doing something I’ve wanted to do for 15 years: standup comedy. Now I’m booked in my first official show in December, I’m in therapy to get over my lifelong insecurity to try to heal from past relational trauma (including and mostly from my father) and my 9 year old dog, the real love of my life, is healthy and curled up in my lap. I went to the gym this morning, am about to eat my favorite food for lunch, and then will do some writing and get ready to greet my family.

    I miss my ex and I hope that he comes back into my life – as he said he might. We didn’t break up because there was anything wrong with us; it was all about timing in his life. I am grateful that I met him and I hope he is having a peaceful, reflective Thanksgiving with his family a few states away.

    We shall see what next year holds.

    1. New Bee*

      Happy birthday!

      Did you mean to write halfway to 40?” If so, what an amazing story from a 20-year-old! ;-)

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      The stand up sounds awesome, Good luck I hope it goes well for you and you enjoy it, please come back and let us know how it went.

      1. Melody Pond*

        Seconded! I love that show, and I love your handle, RNB.

        Also, seconding the birthday wishes and well wishes for your show. :)

  26. Anon for this*

    No question just need to air this somewhere. Trying to leave an SO when you’re in a different location than 1/2 your possessions, which are in yet a different location from most of your friends and family and you have pets and literally have zero dollars is incredibly frustrating and seemingly impossible. So, I continue to plan and wait.

    1. nep*

      This sounds so tough. Sorry you’re having to face this. One day (sometimes half-day) at a time, right? Sounds like you’re doing just as you should and can right now.
      Wishing you the best. Keep us posted if you’re so inclined.

  27. Bibliovore*

    Happy holiday to those who are coming together. My family of origin did not “do” holidays. I am hosting my husband’s family, a total of 14. Turkey is in the oven. Mashed potatoes will be made in the InstantPot. Dressing is in the oven. Cranberry sauce is cooling on the porch. Guests are bringing drinks, salad, and apple crisp. And because I am not Martha Stewart nor a martyr, the pumpkin pie and cheesecake and nibbles came from COSTCO. Family will start arriving at around 11:00 for the “game” Keeping it simple. Thank you all for being part of the AAM community.

    1. Uncivil Engineer*

      Costco is the best for pies! I make great pumpkin and apple pies from scratch and yet I have a Costco apple pie sitting on my counter waiting for dessert time.

  28. The Other Dawn*

    Anyone who has had a massage: any tips for me?

    I’m going for tomorrow. I decided to try it since I still have the base of the neck/left shoulder blade pain, although it’s now just an annoyance rather than pain. It started on Halloween, a week after I started physical therapy. I told the therapists and the showed me how to do my exercises better so I don’t tense up. It helped a little. I don’t feel like it’s something i need to go to the doctor for; it doesn’t feel like my spine, it feels like a muscle.

    Anyway, I’ve specified I want a deep tissue massage, upper back/neck/shoulders only. I booked 30 minutes since I’ve never had one before. Do I need to wear special clothing? Do I change when I get there? Do I tip?

    Thanks! And Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Amber Rose*

      You’ll be asked to strip to your underwear and lay under a blanket, so no special clothing needed. You’ll be left alone while you do this, of course. They can massage over your clothes if they have to but it’s not terribly effective. If you have allergies like I do, ask to see the ingredients of the massage oil.

      I don’t know tipping rules in your area, but I never have since it’s considered a medical service and covered by my insurance.

      There’s not really much else to it. Mine always dims the lights and plays music so I can relax. The more you relax, the better it works.

      1. Grace Carrow*

        They may ask you to take your bra off or they may undo the bra while you are lying down and slide the straps away from the area they are working on. That can get oil on the straps and can impede some of the strokes they use on your rotator cuff muscles. But the therapist will tell you what they want you to take off. And the important thing is that you are comfortable in the clothes you leave on, so you can relax.

        In the USA I’ve always tipped, and more than once when they print off the bill there was a handy calculation of what the tip would be for 10%, 15%, 20% and 25%. I think tipping depends on who is doing it: if it’s a medical venue then no, but if it is at a spa then yes I would tip. My American friend said 20% was appropriate (at a day spa in California).

        One other tip: it can be quite painful sometimes, but that just means there are a lot of tangled muscle fibres that need sorting out. If you match your breathing to the rhythm of the massage, breathing out on the deep strokes and breathing in on the light strokes it really helps to keep you from tensing up with the discomfort (pain) of some of the deeper strokes.

        Your therapist will ask you what pressure you want and then should check with you that what they are doing is working for you. Don’t be embarrassed to ask them to change to a lighter or stronger pressure. It’s absolutely part of the routine.

        One final tip, wear clothes that can stand getting a bit oily and that are easily washed. I used to get a massage straight after work, and my dry clean only suits started to smell like I worked in a chip shop.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          The first time I had a massage, I told the massage therapist and she explained the process to me. I got the impression it was quite normal for her to do that.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      If this is your first time, I would recommend going for firm pressure, not deep tissue. Last time I had a deep tissue, I ended up in more pain immediately afterwards.

      Drink a lot of water before and after.

    3. Colette*

      A deep tissue massage will hurt, but you can (and should) speak up if you want more or less pressure. That’s a normal thing to have to specify.

      You will probably be sore to the touch afterwards (so leaning back on a chair may be a little sensitive, but you should be fine otherwise).

      They should ask what you’re there for, and tell you what to remove and what position they want you in. But if they don’t, you can ask – this is also normal.

    4. Accidental Analyst*

      I used to get regular deep tissue massages. They can hurt (when focusing on knots). If it’s too much tell your therapist and they’ll ease back. I always felt sorer for a day or two but it never bothered me because it was a reminder that the muscles actually felt looser. The best one I ever had was when they managed to release a knot in my neck – got a little high from the endorphin hit.

      Drink plenty of water afterwards (can help to avoid headaches).

      Also does the place offer other complementary services like steam or sauna? If so use them before and after the massage.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      If you don’t, you can get a headache.

      Just wear something comfy. They let you change and give you a sheet or robe when you get there. You can leave underpants on or not. I do tip when I go to the spa, though I doubt I would if it were a physical therapist doing it, like through a hospital.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I am not a big fan of sledge hammering something when a little rubbing might work. Deep tissue is tough.
      Here’s the thing: Muscles tighten up locking in our emotions. It’s to be expected that you might end up crying, in part because deep tissue hurts but also because an emotion has been pushed to the surface.

      In my mind this is similar to “I have a cavity. So I will ask the dentist to pull the tooth. No, I don’t need any Novacaine.”

      Just my opinion, but I think wading in is a stronger approach. Find out about massage therapy and how your body does with it. Usually the MT knows just how to handle that misbehaving muscle. A tight muscle could be a muscle spasm, which some times can be released by tapping the muscle. Yeah, just tapping it causes it to release. The trick is to know where to tap and how long.

      Not to scare you but I have had some deep tissue stuff done and I felt like a walking bruise for over a week. Part of the problem was I failed to drink enough water. Massage therapy can be wonderful, but if your first appointment is too much and you are not happy then you might be less inclined to go again.

      Two other considerations:
      The MT herself. You want to make sure that you and the MT are a good fit. Can you talk with her and does she seem to understand?
      Rest. After your massage allow time to go home and just rest. Your muscles will let go of tension and knots, etc, probably you will find that your bowels work better. Your body needs time to sort all this out.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks, all! I’ll be sure to post on Saturday with an update. I booked deep tissue, because I knew I didn’t want an all-over massage, and a few of the others on their website didn’t seem to be the right thing. But when I booked the appointment I made sure to mention what I was looking for in terms of what should be targeted.

      Should be a fun day: I’m going back to my personal trainer in the morning after six weeks (he was on medical leave) and then have the massage later in the day. Last time I saw my trainer I was recently diagnosed with the bulging discs and annular tear, so I was very limited in my workouts. Then I started with the neck pain so didn’t even bother working out for about a week because between the neck and back, I was a mess! Then I had to make a trip out of state to get a bunch of stuff from my dad’s house. Then last weekend we had to go out of state again to pack up my sister, move her and do the real estate closings. And this week I’ve been really sore from all the packing, lifting, etc. So, yeah, I’m gonna be really sore this weekend!!

  29. Mallory Janis Ian*

    Ack! My turkey is still partially frozen on the inside, even though it has been thawing in the fridge since Monday. The Kitchn blog says I can just start roasting it and add 25% more cooking time, but I need to get that giblet packet out of the cavity, so I’m giving it a cold-water bath just until the giblet packet is removable. Then I’ll proceed as usual but cook an hour or so longer, as recommended.

      1. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

        I was told last night at about 8:07pm that I was in charge of desserts for today’s lunch… Thankfully the Walmart “Neighborhood Market” was fairly calm. Took out my days frustrations on a mean sopapilla cheesecake, cherry pie & no-bake cookies. Hope the turkey is delicious!

      2. Tmarie*

        I turned the oven off when I turned off a stove burner. So yeah, a bit of a mishap.

        BUT, the really terrible mishap was when I cooked my summer turkey in August. I had thrown out my back, between taking the turkey out of the freezer to thaw, and cooking it. The pain made everything just “off”. On the morning of off-season turkey day, I had my son get the turkey out of the refrigerator. While I was stuffing it, I turned the oven on to preheat. I just flipped the oven on to 525. Stuffed the bird, and threw it in the oven, well, had my son put it in the oven, thinking I had preheated the oven to 325. 90 minutes later my turkey was a beautiful golden brown, it was so bad! So very very bad, ended up with a very very dry overcooked turkey. But the stuffing was delicious.

    1. HurricaneLys*

      I have accidentally ended up with a frozen turkey before! We got it done in the same amount of time by stuffing the turkey with long metal utensils (so some of the metal handle was sticking out). This conducted the heat inward and helped it cook from the inside and outside…but it did look awful until it was done and we removed the utensils!

    2. I get that*

      Washington Post had an article about cooking a frozen turkey. Apparently it’s just as good. While I’ve cooked different meats from frozen they were always much smaller.

  30. AnonAndOn*

    I didn’t spend last Thanksgiving with my family but today I am. I gave up meat over a year ago and my family loves their meat. I let the relative who’s hosting today know. I told my family that they didn’t have to completely overhaul the menu to cater to me. I’m sure I’ll be able to find something to eat.

    I’m bringing a dessert and games. My family can be emotionally taxing at times, so the games will help to deflect some of that.

    1. c*

      Navigating Thanksgiving without meat can be hard. I’ve been a vegetarian for more than half my life, and even though my family (on both sides) has been really accommodating, group events are always tough. I mean, there are only so many “rabbit food” jokes you can fake-laugh at. Games are a great idea.
      I always bring a salad or something I can have as a main course in case there’s chicken broth in everything else. Dessert is extra credit.
      Kudos to you. No matter what your diet, family time can be stressful. Hope you had a happy holiday.

      1. AnonAndOn*

        Thanksgiving was fine (except for them bringing up something I did or said when I was very young for no apparent reason and had a laugh at my expense…awkward). There was plenty for me to eat that was vegetarian and no one made comments about my choice to stop eating meat.

        We ended up not playing the games because most of my family passed out after the meal!

  31. Anonymous Educator*

    So Coco yesterday. Despite being grossed out by John Lasseter having anything to do with it, I still thought it was an excellent movie… quite possibly Pixar’s best. I’m glad they’re returning to making internal conflict the heart of the story.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I saw the trailer when I went to see Thor. I thought it looked cute, but I can wait to watch it on streaming or Redbox it. Saving my pennies for The Last Jedi!


  32. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

    Finding it really hard to be extra thankful today. (Typically I try to realize how fortunate I am daily, instead of one day a year as T-Day suggests & some do, although I know not all)

    My “best” friend is in town for the holiday, and we planned to catch up. I didn’t really feel like meeting up because it was fairly obvious she was just checking me off the list of people she wanted to see, and wasn’t truly interested in meeting up. We finally found a time that worked (it would be about a 30 minute window – not really worth it in my opinion). Planned to meet at 8:15pm, and at 8:07 she told me she was running late – 8:10 and she’s still posting pictures with her ex-boyfriend & his family (though she talks a lot of smack about these people when she isn’t in town)… I waited until 8:30 and then I just left and told her we could meet up another time. I’m not insinuating that she should’ve blocked off the hour before so she could get there on time, but showing up so late while hanging out with people you claim to dislike just seems like you don’t truly want to catch up. I feel like maybe I’m overreacting, but I do hold this friend to a higher standard – she is one of my closest friends, knows more info than I share with most, and in general claims she’s always there for me (and she knows I’ve been having a rough few months – which was maybe the insult to the non-life threatning injury of being late).

    Also have car, roommate, financial & family drama that sucks most of the life out of me.

    But, I have my dogs, am moderately well, my parents are fantastic, and Goodwill is having a killer Black Friday sale tomorrow at 7am.

    1. Book Person*

      I don’t think that’s overreacting, for what it’s worth. (Also for whatever it’s worth: it’s awesome that you left at 8:30 instead of letting her string you along any further. That’s something I’ve been learning to do for myself, and I know how hard it can be!). I’m sorry that it’s been a tough day for being thankful; I hope your dogs give you lots of cuddles today, and that you score some excellent finds tomorrow at the sale!

    2. Pommette!*

      I don’t think that you’re overreacting (hats off to you for actually leaving!).

      Having been the flaky friend visiting her home town, I have a few insights to offer into your friend’s behaviour. Trying to meet your obligations to many different people means having to make more visits than you can reasonably hope to pack into a short trip home. It’s stressful and hard, and leaves you feeling as if you are failing everyone at the same time. It’s easy to start seeing people (even people that you love and want to see) like duties that you need to cross off of your to-do list.

      Last year, I realized that I was spending more time, and more “prime” time, with the people with whom I have awkward or difficult relationships than with the people I love most. I had fallen into this way of doing things without having made a conscious choice to do so, and for all kinds of (bad) reasons: I felt guilty about prioritizing the “fun” visits over the necessary ones; I knew that my good friends would be more willing to work around my difficult schedule; I felt that a missed visit wouldn’t imperil my good friendships but might ruin the more difficult relationships… All bad reasons once you take the time to think them through, but all reasons that felt compelling at the time. I have apologized and am working to reform my ways.

      I’m not saying this to excuse the way your friend is treating you. It’s not okay. But it might not reflect a lack of affection or of respect for you. Especially in a situation like the one you describe: maybe she spent more time with her ex’s family because she understood this as a final “goodbye” visit, and less with you because she feels as if this visit is only one of many more to come. (A very different situation, albeit one in which her behaviour is still not justified). Is this something that you would want to address with her directly, by telling her how her behaviour made you feel?

      I hope that the next few months are kinder to you than the last few months have been, and that your relationship with your friend evolves in a way that makes you feel loved and respected.

  33. NaoNao*

    Since so many of us love to read and recommend books, I was thinking about an AAM Goodreads group!
    Anyone in?

    1. nep*

      I would be.
      I’m about to give Middlemarch a look. One of the best parts of a day truly OFF for me — some big chunks of reading time.

      1. nep*

        About 20 pages in and very much liking it so far. Family members making all kinds of noise downstairs kind of spoiling my quiet reading day…hope they won’t be hanging around for long. Glad I’m finally delving into this book, though.

        1. nep*

          (Not to be negative — I know everyone’s just having a good time and spending the holiday they way they want to. It’s all good.)

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve got the new Joe Hill book, Strange Weather, and the first book in Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger action series, but I’m not allowed to read them until I’m at least halfway through Book 2 of my own trilogy.

  34. nep*

    Stories of meeting AAMers in real life?
    (I still think we should have t-shirts. Wouldn’t be a blast to run into someone with an AAMer shirt on?!)

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I moved to a new department at the university where I work and found a fellow AAM reader! I was so excited to meet one in the “wild”. We talked about AAM stuff for a few weeks, and we recently exchanged user names. So now it’s cool to see someone’s comments on here and know that I know them IRL.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      There are a few commenters here that I “met” on a previous forum (that has since gone away), and now communicate regularly on social media, but I’ve only met a few of them in person. From that group, I’ve met Vintage Lydia IRL, had Skype chats with Liz West, and lots of online exchanges with Rebecca and AggrAV8ed Tech, and one or two more who haven’t commented in a long time, whose commenting names I forget. Outside of that group, I’ve also gotten to know the gold digger, although online only. I would love to meet more of them, or other commenters, though!

    3. Red*

      I would so love to meet up with some of you guys lol. I’m thinking teapot pins, or something along that lines.

      Though, what if someone I already knew started wearing one? I get real personal here because of the anonymity…

    4. Mimmy*

      I’ve been dying to meet fellow AAMers! I’ve emailed one a couple of times because she is sort of in my field (I forget her screen name–she works in a library).

      I like the idea of teapot pins!

  35. Artemesia*

    My grandchild and I made the pies yesterday and had a major crust fail; we were trying a new buttery recipe and it failed on us — but she just took the dough and made cookies and cinnamon rolls and they were wonderful. I ran across the street to the mini-mart and got frozen crusts and we finished the pies.

    My mother’s first Thanksgiving as a wife was in a new housing development in Seattle just after the start of WWII and my just awful grandfather was a guest. It was a new development and everyone was baking a turkey and it blew the transformer and so there was no power; my mother had a half cooked turkey and my grandfather fussing and directing and being his usual awful self. My mother told me father between clenched teeth ‘GET HIM OUT OF HERE’ and Dad took Grandpa on a ride while my mother made a reflector oven in the fireplace and finished cooking the turkey. My Dad was the rocket scientist but it was my mother who had the engineering imagination for household challenges.

  36. Broked*

    I enjoy the holidays but this year hurts. My ex and I split 6 months ago and we still live together with our kids. It does not get any easier. All of my family are 6 hours away and his lives here. Every holiday we spent with his and last night he informed me he didn’t want me around for the holiday, but he wants to take the kids. (I don’t keep them from him or his family but he balks if I ask him to hold our baby. So I know he will take them for appearances and have someone else take care of them.)

    His mother is very well aware of our relationship and surprisingly continues as if this is normal. She called this morning letting me know which days we were doing at certain houses. I didn’t even know how to respond and say I’m not invited.

    This whole situation continues to break my heart.

    1. Singin’ the anonymous Thanksgiving blues*

      This sounds really hard. I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’m in a not dissimilar spot, and if someone were to play the “what are YOU thankful for this year?” game with me, my 100% non-snarky response would be “my therapist.” If you haven’t got one, it might be something to consider. It’s hard to go through this stuff alone, and it’s equally hard to seek and receive meaningful support from family members who are also at least somewhat impacted and involved.

      Hugs to you.

  37. Brooke*

    I’m the worst at small talk. I hate it so much. People ask what I did over the weekend and I wanna be like, I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING LEAVE ME ALONE.

    But it’s the worst for holidays because people ask me what did you do? Why didn’t you go see your family? Do they not do Thanksgiving?

    And I want to be like, bitch my family is full of abusive creeps and after escaping moving to a new city and changing my phone number, you think I’m going to show up for Thanksgiving?

    But instead I usually just try to avoid answering by changing the subject or saying I’m too busy to talk.

    Does anyone else have a way to shut this kind of thing down without being so awkward so that people stop harping on it?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I get annoyed with this, too.

      Usually if there’s some kind of break, I try to phrase my questions in a way that gives people an out: “I hope you’re doing something fun and/or relaxing or whatever you need?” Because sometimes what you need isn’t necessarily fun or exciting or even relaxing. If I end it with a question mark, it gives the person the ability to say “Thanks” without divulging any plans or acknowledging things have to be fun or exciting, but it also opens up a space for people who do want to share plans to share their plans.

      My usual answer, if I don’t want to share or if I legit have nothing planned (or planned stuff that isn’t what they expect or want to hear), is “Nothing much” or “Nothing special.” That tends to work for me, but your mileage may vary.

      1. Artemesia*

        It is small talk; no one is prying. Just have some bland ‘oh really pigged out, I don’t think I need to eat again till Christms. How was your holiday?’ is sufficient.

    2. AnonAndOn*

      If people ask how was your Thanksgiving, you can say a generic “fine.” If they asked what you did and what you ate, you could say, “I had a nice meal, thank you.” Most people stop pushing when answers are vague like that. Also, asking them what they did takes the onus off of you and puts it on them to talk about their holiday plans. Chatty people usually love to talk about themselves.

      I too hate this type of small talk and questioning. For most people it’s friendly conversation, but for many it can be triggering.

    3. Red*

      I answer honestly. “My family was abusive and I hope I never see them again, but I had a great Thanksgiving with my husband and cats”. They’re the ones that made it awkward, return that shit to sender lol. You shouldn’t feel awkward because they ask questions they shouldn’t, they should.

      1. Brooke*

        Thanks. I could try that… but I also don’t really like talking about it to everyone.

        Yeah, to the other comments too — I don’t know why people keep prying if it really is small talk. It’s like, I’m not giving you anything to go on, why are you asking me more follow up questions? Sometimes it’s not even office people, but like friends of friends or whatever, so it’s like less formal of a setting anyway.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          They could be at a loss for anything else to say and not even realize they are pushing a boundary.

          I don’t do anything big for the holidays. I am finding that people are pretty satisfied with the answer, “Good. And how was yours?” I give myself extra points for remembering to say, “Did you do anything fun or different?” They don’t even realize that I have not fully answered them.

          This takes some practice to get used to it. And, yeah, it feels like a lie at first. But maybe you can frame it to yourself, “My home has heat, my car is working and the dog is well [insert your own things here]. So that makes it a good holiday.”

        2. Ann O.*

          If you didn’t redirect onto what they did, they’re asking follow-up questions to try and keep from awkward silence. If you did redirect, they may just be rude busybodies.

      2. Specialk9*

        Innocent small talk that happens to hit your invisible hot buttons is NOT what Capt Awkward is talking about when she says return awkward to sender. Being the aggressive meanie when people are just trying to connect is not a smart way to get through life, or build your career. It’s a wildly unkind approach, and will only hurt you in the end, in a karmic way.

    4. HannahS*

      In response to “what did you do on the weekend/holiday?”
      “Oh, I just took it easy, caught up on some housework. You?”
      “Had a quiet weekend watching TV. You?”
      “I celebrated with some pie and a Harry Potter marathon. What about you?”

      In response do “BUT WHY NO FAMILY WERE YOU ALONE”
      “I decided that a quiet Thanksgiving would be just the thing. What did you do?”
      “My family doesn’t live close by, and anyway I don’t have a big attachment to the holidays. Did you have a big crowd for Thanksgiving?”

      Common thread in small talk: if you want to change the subject, ask them a question. If they’re normal, polite people, they’ll answer the question and you can steer the convo away from yourself. Make appropriate comments like, “That sounds nice” “Mm, that sounds delicious” “Your uncle said what? Unbelievable!”

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Also remember that if we live long enough, we all will do holidays alone. Some of us just get there faster than others of us, that is all.

          I can offer you this, find a place to volunteer on holidays. It will give you something to talk about and it will put you next to caring people.

          1. Brooke*

            ok ok. i love the holidays. i love spending time alone. i go for walks or go biking or write music. the issue isnt that im sad or lonely. its that people keep pushing me for answers. but yeah if people are being rude theyre being rude

    5. neverjaunty*

      Mostly people are just being polite and expecting “oh, not a lot, you?” so they can say something similar.

      But a surefire way to deal with this stuff is to deflect and ask about them. “Eh, just the usual. How about you, did you end up staying home or going to visit folks?” and letting them talk.

    6. Singin’ the anonymous Thanksgiving blues*

      I like to reply, “The same thing I do every weekend: I took over the world.” And then w wind up talking about Pinky and the Brain instead of making small talk about the weekend.

    7. Tris Prior*

      I usually just say “It was nice and small, immediate family only.” No one needs to know that by “immediate family” I am referring to Boyfriend and the cat.

    8. nep*

      I always cut this conversation short — the inevitable ‘did you have a good holiday?’ ‘what did you do…?’
      I generally just say — ‘Yes, I enjoyed the extra time’ and change the subject straightaway.

      1. Specialk9*

        You’re not helping your career, fyi, by being so curt and standoffish. The trick to deflecting so you don’t have to share personal details is to share a couple non personal interests – favorite sports team, love of animal rescues, interest in baking or home brew or heck anything. Then talk cheerfully about those, and then ask about their stuff. That’s enough to meet the social niceties and avoid getting a rep as the antisocial one.

        1. nep*

          I don’t think so. I’m quite polite and cheery (quite happy that I did have and enjoy some down time, and I’m sure it shows). And when I say ‘I change the subject’ — generally I turn the question back and let the person go on about what they did, which most people are more than happy to do.

    9. Stellaaaaa*

      Just say, “My family lives far away and my job is stressful so I just like to take this time for myself. I made myself a really nice pie and I visited some friends that I don’t get to see very often.” I’ve noticed that people are becoming more aware of things like “friendsgiving.” People don’t usually push when you say something like, “I see my family when it’s convenient for us. It’s hard for me to travel when it’s only four days off of work.”

    10. Specialk9*

      Most people are just trying to connect with you – assume social awkwardness and relying too hard on conversational conventions for most. There are also, more rarely, busybodies who want to know. Most people don’t want you to blight the conversation with intimate personal trauma (that’s for close friends and lovers), they just want to connect for a moment and move on. So you need to learn the art of having a glib mini-story ready, told in a positive tone. Didn’t do Thanksgiving but stayed home? Tell a story about how you cooked X and it was a big success/failure, or had a good meal and caught up on the new season of X, have you seen that show, oh it’s great, it’s about…

  38. Fertility Poster*

    I want to thank the community. I posted two weekends ago about struggling to get pregnant after 10 months of trying and asked for tips for getting pregnant. Some posters suggested I go to a fertility doc. I’ve done so and they are running tests- the doctor said it is good I came when I did, since my medical history means I will have significant trouble with pregnancy if we wait much longer. I’m only 31, but he thinks I have PCOS, even though I don’t have the classic symptoms(I was a on a BC that would have blocked symptoms for many years for others reasons). The best news is my husband’s insurance will cover 90% of all treatments, making this very affordable. I’m so glad that folks suggested going! I’ll keep everyone updated. I am very thankful for insurance and for folks not just saying “you’re young, it will work eventually.” .

  39. I'm A Little TeaPot*

    Hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving, whatever that looks like for you. Right now, I’m lounging on the couch, with my parents around. Will start the turkey in about an hour. My neighbor has been invited and will be coming over later too.

    Even better, the cats haven’t thrown up!

  40. Artemesia*

    We have been watching the Great British Bake Off show and so has my granddaughter. When our pie crust was melting and clearly not going to work, I said, ‘well I guess I am not a star baker.’ She said ‘Oh I think you are because the really good bakers are always feeling like they aren’t any good but then they come through and do great stuff.’ She is 7. This is the kid who when my visually impaired husband was having trouble reading to her, brought him the magnifying glass and said ‘you have to read ‘Through the Looking Glass’ through the looking glass. And when told to quit stalling and get to bed, put her arms out like an airplane, stopped and crashed to the floor. Being a grandmother is the most fun ever.

    1. AnonAndOn*

      She seems like a very sweet girl!

      I love The Great British Bake Off (it’s called The Great British Baking Show in the States because of Pillsbury trademark issues). It’s the nicest and friendliest competition and the treats they make look delicious. I had the same thoughts about my baking for the holidays – I’ll never be a “Star Baker” but my dishes look decent and are edible!

      1. Artemesia*

        Yeah we are watching it here — got the name wrong. Just started watching, so first Netflix season (think it is the 4th British season) Love how gentle and nice everyone is. And also love the relative lack of commercial hype. There are no prizes, except the joy of winning. and it is fun to watch. And getting some ideas to things to try. I made yorkshire puddings for my husband’s birthday dinner — first time. I usually make really great pumpkin pies so even with the bought crust I have hopes for that one; the lemon meringue is quite tart so fingers crossed on that one. I have been cooking with the granddaughter since she was 2.5 and now she is actually a big help — did all the lemon juicing, cleaned the silver, made the cookies out of the failed pie dough, piped the meringue on the lemon pie.

  41. Birdbrain*

    Happy Thanksgiving, Americans!

    My festive suggestion: search “West Wing Butterball hotline” on YouTube. President Bartlet geeks out over turkey preparation methods. You’re welcome. :)

    1. caledonia*

      The West Wing! Also good for a laugh is the CJ choosing the turkeys one (or same epi?)

      And then listen to the West Wing Weekly podcast.

    2. Tris Prior*

      Mandatory watching in our household!

      Also the Thanksgiving episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (Pangs) and the “burn it all down” scene from Addams Family Values.

      1. nep*

        Just looked that up — indeed they did get it wrong. Why wouldn’t they use a correct zip code? Weird.

  42. Free Meerkats*

    I usually do the turkey at 475 for 20 minutes, then drop to 250 until 160 in the breast. I just discovered my new oven only goes down to 300. Since I cook by temperature, it won’t be a problem, just needed to pay attention to timing the sides.

    And I’m so old, I remember when the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade broadcast actually showed a parade.

  43. Turkey-free*

    I am having Thanksgiving alone, and it is FANTASTIC. I’ve had a lovely hike outside, and will have an experimental recipe for dinner. All my neighbors with barky dogs have gone away and it is so peaceful and I love it.

  44. Anomonon*

    I am having Thanksgiving alone, and it is FANTASTIC. I’ve had a lovely hike outside, and will have an experimental recipe for dinner. All my neighbors with barky dogs have gone away and it is so peaceful and I love it.

    1. AnonAndOn*

      Sounds lovely, Anomonon! I love Thanksgivings alone. I’m going to see family this year because an elderly relative I haven’t seen in years will be there, but I prefer to treat holidays like any other day.

      A former friend judged me when I said I liked spending holidays alone. Said it was “sad” and other things. It’s one of the reasons why I no longer consider her a friend. All she did was judge me and criticize me because my interests were different than hers.

      1. Singin’ the anonymous Thanksgiving blues*

        It’s always weird to me how invested some people seem to feel in other people’s life choices and preferences, and why if they must judge they can’t, I dunno, do it SILENTLY. I also love solo and/or low-key holidays, and I’ve taken to not talking much about it because it seems like people jump right to, “Poor you, all alone! Come to my big, boozy get-together with a bunch of people you’ve never met who probably aren’t your types!”

        Enjoy your holiday. It sounds perfect.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      BEST THANKSGIVING OF MY LIFE I desperately needed a mental health break, and flew out to the west coast with my younger child (who could readily miss school) and we spent Thanksgiving on a hike, then having regular food at a local restaurant. I would do it every year if I could.

  45. Talia*

    I’m attending a Friendsgiving! Which resulted in baking of pie late last night, complete with cat who wanted to “help” by poking his nose into my Earth Balance. (He wasn’t allowed to actually make contact with any ingredients, but he sure tried.) I was going to make *two* pies, to ensure having enough, but my partner didn’t get enough pecans when he went to the store. Oh, well; I’ve brought home whole untouched pie from larger Thanksgiving gatherings than this when I’ve made two, so I suppose it wasn’t strictly necessary, and I’ve now got a pie crust in the fridge I can use to whip something up tomorrow. Also, I spilled the rum while I was making it, so there’s now significantly more alcohol in the pie than originally intended. This should be interesting…

    My partner is right now downstairs checking on his cranberry sauce, as we noticed there was no cranberry sauce on the potluck list. I am hoping this turns out like last time that happened, when *everybody* noticed it and brought their own special take on cranberry sauce.

  46. Singin’ the anonymous Thanksgiving blues*

    I’m a semi-regular here, but going incognito for this.

    I’m having a bit of a rough day/week/month/year/life at the moment.

    I’ve been separated from my husband since June, the culmination of a lot of family drama and plain old bad luck. We rarely talk; he emailed me the other day to let me know he has hired a lawyer and I should expect paperwork soon. I’m the one who left and he tried to get me to change my mind, so in many ways it’s a relief to have the end in sight. Still, it’s bittersweet.

    I had a regularly scheduled mammogram last week and the results are irregular and they asked me to come in Tuesday for a repeat mammogram and an ultrasound and possibly a biopsy. Other people in my family have had cancer, so I know how the medical machine kicks into action when there’s a problem. I’m scared of what I’m going to find out, and dreading having to possibly share still more bad news with my family and my soon-to-be ex. The rational side of me knows there’s a perfectly decent chance it will turn out to be nothing, but people very close to me have had things like this turn out to definitely be something, so I have come by a certain amount of paranoia honestly.

    I’ve recently left a really wonderful workplace where I wasn’t paid much and the benefits sucked, but I loved my colleagues and enjoyed every minute of the work. I’m now at a place where I earn more money and have better benefits, but it feels like just a job with perfectly pleasant people I could take or leave. With so much going on, I miss my old crew terribly.

    And finally, I am moving. My place is small, my new place is smaller, I haven’t got much stuff, and I’m about 3/4 done, but it’s just a drag and I wish I had everything in one place and could relax and enjoy the day off, instead of spending it packing and schlepping stuff across town.

    Thanksgiving pity party for one woman and her cat. Extra gravy, please.

    1. LCL*

      Sounds like you are coping well, all things considered. I will have a cocktail for you and hope the medical news is good.

    2. Matilda Jefferies*

      It sucks when Life happens all at once, doesn’t it. I hope you can find some time soon to sit down and relax with your cat and a warm/cool beverage of choice.

    3. @Myrin and @SpiderLadyCEO - Book Lover -*

      I hope the news is good on the mammogram. And maybe the job and people will grow on you. Snuggle the cat for me – I miss mine.

    4. anon attorney*

      So much change at once, and now the mammogram throwing that uncertainty into the mix. I hope that your repeat mammo is clear. There’s no getting around the scanxiety until you know what you are dealing with so I hope they can give you some kind of answer on Tuesday. Hang on in there. Anonymous internet stranger hugs x

    5. Not So NewReader*

      So much upheaval all at once. I hope you can build yourself a support group, even if it is just a couple people.
      May your load be lightened in some way VERY soon.

    6. Grace Carrow*

      I am so sorry about your situation. What I can tell you is that breast cancer is very survivable. But it is very scary while you are waiting for the results. The biopsy hurts much less than you would think. My hospital has stopped giving local anaesthetic because that injection hurts more than the actual biopsy.

      If you like o think ahead about worst case scenarios then I would be happy to give you more details of what treatment is like. But I’m now 5 years post treatment, my surgeon did such a good job that I’m comfortable sitting naked in a sauna or using a communal changing room, because no one notices the very discreet scar.

      TL.DR: most women survive breast cancer, 85% for the type I had. The treatment can be challenging but it is doable. Surgery techniques are very good these days. And that’s your worst case scenario.

      Hoping like hell that your results are negative and big internet hugs from a long time lurker on this site.

      1. Singin’ the anonymous Thanksgiving blues*

        Thanks so much for this thoughtful response. I am really glad you’re doing well, and appreciate you de-lurking to say as much.

        If you’re comfortable saying more about your diagnosis and treatment, I would be interested in hearing your story. If not, that’s okay, too. My sibling is a cancer survivor and they sometimes express weariness at reciting the same story to everyone who asks.

        1. Grace Carrow*

          I really appreciate your thoughtfulness, but I’m happy to expand on my comment above. I think I may have turned into one of those annoying women trying to get other women to be breast aware, so that they get advice if anything changes.

          I woke up one Saturday morning and found a lump about an inch diameter and I would swear it wasn’t there the day before. I’m in the UK so I called my GP and they gave me an emergency same day appointment. I was referred to a one-stop clinic at my local hospital. The doctor was sure it was a cyst, but the ultrasound showed it was a solid mass, so they did a biopsy and told me to come back in a week. At the second appointment I saw the Macmillan nurse go into his room so I knew then that it was cancer.
          Within a week I had had appointments with the surgeon and the oncology department. They advised me to have chemo before the surgery because triple negative breast cancer metastasises really fast so they wanted to zap anything growing in the rest of my body. The extra benefit of that was that the lump shrunk dramatically: 27mm down to 4mm, so I ended up with a much better cosmetic result.

          I went in for day case surgery where they injected blue and radioactive dye into my breast, waited for it to drain into my lymph nodes. While I was under anaesthetic they used the radioactivity to tell them where to cut and then cut out the nodes that had turned blue. It took about 2 years for the blue staining on my breast to disappear. Thankfully there was no evidence of cancer in the nodes. It’s left me with very slight fluid retention in my arm, but dry skin brushing using lymphatic drainage techniques keep it under control. I have a 2 inch scar in my armpit which is not pretty because of what happened next.

          Then I started chemo and I agreed to be in a clinical trial of a new drug Avastin. Being in a trial meant that I got more attention because of the extra consultations that the trial demanded. I also got access to the best anti nausea medication which is only available through the NHS for severe cases because of its cost. I would really recommend to anyone to get on a trial if you can. Generally, the size of the lump after chemo was a good predictor of survival. My drug was very good at shrinking the lump, but there was no correlation between lump size and 2 year survival. The shrinkage did give a better cosmetic result though in my case.

          Chemo was brutal. I had 6 sessions, 4weeks apart. Chemo 1 knocked out all my white blood cells , my temperature spiked and I ended up in a hospital ward on intravenous antibiotics. My half healed armpit scar broke open and oozed stuff that did not smell good. So it has healed into an ugly scar. After that I was given an injection of blood cell booster a couple of days after each chemo. For the first one I went to the hospital but that took half a day so I took the preloaded spring based syringe home and injected myself for the remaining cycles. And being in the trial meant that it was easy to get that drug: I’m not sure if I would have got it automatically for every cycle otherwise.
          Chemo 2 gave me 4 bad days in the 4 week cycle; chemo 6 gave me maybe 2good days in the following 4 weeks. Despite being given the wonder drug for nausea control I puked for England. I also got uncontrollable diarrhoea from chemo 4 onwards, so I had to wear adult diapers at night during peak puke season. Despite all that, I actually put on weight (like every other woman I met having treatment)I think it was a combination of very little exercise and craving bland sweet white food. I ate a lot of rice pudding, mashed potatoes and vanilla ice cream.
          My nails fell out, all my hair (body and head) fell out. I remember one bath where I lay back and put my head under water and about half of my head hair just floated away into the bath water. I cut the remaining strands very short and used eyebrow pencil to colour the gaps. About a week later I borrowed my dad’s electric shaver and got rid of the rest. I was given a free wig which I wore when I was dealing with friends and family, but most of the time I wore knitted hats or a scarf. Side note: some of the ways I tied my scarf led to strangers making islamophobic insults. That was fun.

          The veins in my hand started to fail by chemo 3 so I was given a portocath. It’s a device planted under the skin that is connected into a big vein. It has a self sealing silicone top, so the intravenous needle just gets inserted into the portocath though the skin. Again ‘thank you drug trial’ because it came out of their budget.

          Then I had daycare surgery with just a lumpectomy and the scar is placed on the line of the colour change between nipple and skin. It’s barely visible. I dropped a cup size so I was given a silicone shell to put on the underside of my breast inside my bra. I only wear it when I’m putting my cleavage on show, and it makes me symmetrical, but I’m comfortable with the size difference wearing ordinary bras.

          Then I had 4 weeks of radiotherapy on every weekday. I ignored their advice on lotions and used E45 cream instead. My skin remained largely intact. I did get a yeast infection over all my chest, which took about 6 months to resolve.

          Then my portacath was removed, under sedation, and the scar got infected and healed to look like I’d had a cigarette stopped out on the skin 3 times. I was referred for scar revision at London’s flagship hospital which involved 3 sessions with a counsellor to make sure my expectations were realistic, and then treatment under local anaesthetic to revise the scar. I can look at it now. So my top tip is that if you are getting a portacath on the left side of your body, do not let them put it on your chest; insist that they put it on your side. I have been left with an almost perfect looking cancer breast and a casually mutilated healthy breast. (Yep, still angry, despite the mandatory counselling.)

          It took about 2 years to get any feeling in the nipple, and about 4 years before it started getting perky in the right circumstances.

          All the while I was under treatment I had a dedicated Macmillan nurse who I could call or meet. It was her job to be my guide and advocate throughout treatment. The women I met who were being treated privately did not have anything like that. I really believe I got better treatment in the NHS than they did.

          One thing I noticed is that organisations really like to give you things. You are advised to throw out all your cosmetics because you have lowered resistance to bacteria. But there is an organisation called ‘look good, feel better’ that runs sessions where you get a goody bag of full size products of make up and cleanser and perfume, and a tutorial on how to draw fake eyebrows , and use the concealer, green colour corrector to improve your chemo blotchy complexion. They were really good brands and worth about £300 in total. The bottle of perfume in my pack retails at about £120, it’s Prada and smells divine.

          One thing I realised is that there are competent and incompetent surgeons, but they all have their preferred techniques for reconstruction after a mastectomy. They can use implants, or tissue taken from your back or your lower abdomen. Anything that uses a part of your body will affect movement in that area. So it’s important to research all the current methods and to remember that if a surgeon recommends a particular technique that might be the one that they are best at, rather than it being the best one for you.

          I was both lucky and unlucky. My tumour was ‘triple negative’ which has the worst survival rate and there is no wonder drug like tamoxifen or herceptin, however any recurrence usually happens within 2 years, and if you make it to 5 years then you can assume it will never come back. May 2018 is my 5 year point.

          At around the 3 year mark my breast looked like a classic case of inflammatory breast cancer, so I got a fast track referral to the one stop breast clinic again. It turned out to be late stage side effects of the radiotherapy.

          I have a mammogram every year, and an oncology clinic annually, where they give me an examination, checking my breasts, my neck and abdomen for any lumps. Ask me if I feel well. Last year I mentioned that my shoulder blade was sore but I was pretty sure that it was a strained muscle from swimming, so they sent me for a scan, and I was right. It’s very easy to get into a frightened mindset where any change triggers a worry that the cancer will come back. I’ve got pretty good at staying rational.

          Wow, this is longer than I thought it would be, but it has been interesting to revisit those years. I hope that you never have to go through anything like this, but I really want you to know that it’s possible to get though it, and over it, and past it.

        2. Grace Carrow*

          I’ve written you a long response but it is awaiting moderation, probably because it has some anatomical words in it. Given that it’s a holiday in USA it might take a while to post. I just wanted to let you know I wasn’t ignoring you.

          1. C Average*

            Wow, what a journey you’ve been on. I am so glad you made it. I’ll definitely be thinking of you when May 2018 rolls around in a few months. It’ll surely feel good to pass that milestone.

            Thank you so much for the detailed and informative response.

            1. C Average*

              Haha, I just outed myself. Oh, well.

              Anyone who has followed my saga over the last few years is surely wondering, “How much drama can one human being experience?” Dear readers, I wonder that as well. I’d really love to experience boredom and monotony for a while, just for the novelty of it.

  47. Mimmy*

    Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow AAM readers! I am in Boston with my family. They are frantically getting tonight’s dinner together now as I type! It is organized chaos :)

  48. tigerStripes*

    Ahh Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner looming ahead. I don’t like meat, I don’t like green beans or that thing with marshmallows on top. I can manage eating mashed potatoes and do love the bread rolls. I’m trying to think of something I can bring to these kinds of meals that I’ll actually eat. Any suggestions?


    1. PugLife*

      MY LIFE.

      Growing up all I ate was plain bread rolls and unseasoned mashed potatoes and unseasoned green beans. The fam didn’t want me to be a vegetarian but I couldn’t really stomach eating meat. It was bad. (And one of the reasons I’m not a Thanksgiving person as an adult)

      I LOVE chestnuts and only recently realized that they can be used in other ways than just eaten plain! I’m planning to try out one of these chestnut pie recipes:

      Mushroom/Chestnut/Thyme Pithivier:
      Mushroom/Chestnut/Ale Pie:
      Maple/Parsnip/Chestnut Wellington:

      The pithivier and the Wellington, especially, would make good sort of centerpiece dishes to bring. (And you could probably make a big version of the mushroom/chestnut/ale pie for sharing)

      Probably any sort of savory pie would be a good choice. Hand pies or samosas too!

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

        I once had a random can of chestnut puree that I didn’t know what to do with, so I made a banana bread recipe only subbed the chestnut for the banana. It was great.

    2. Amber Rose*

      Salad of some kind? Pasta salad would be fairly filling. Or some roasted veggies. My SIL makes a giant thing of boiled carrots with butter, basil and I think a little brown sugar.

    3. Bluebell*

      Lots and lots of roasted veggies! I used to do a southwestern roasted squash and tomatoes with cornmeal dumplings that even carnivores appreciated.

    4. Anono-me*

      Wild rice. You can get canned wild rice that you just open,heat, and eat or you can go with a complicated from scratch recipe, or anything in between.

    5. Stellaaaaa*

      I’m a meat lover but I’m not a big fan of turkey. I’ve gotten really into butternut squash soup or pumpkin soup if you can find it. I buy it in the organic section at the store and then add seasonings. Salt, pepper, and a little bit of cinnamon. I also like to add bacon to it. It doesn’t strike anyone as overly weird when I dig into soup as my main Thanksgiving course.

      Or just get a bunch of apple cider donuts.

    6. Anonymouse for this*

      Do you like brussel sprouts? I oven roast them with paprika, honey, pecans, pearl onions, garlic cloves. A nice change from the boiled to infinity grey sludgey version I grew up with!

      Or any mix of roast veggies such as carrots, parsnips, onions, sweet potatoes.

  49. Chylleh*

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone from a newbie-ish poster!

    I just had the pleasure of watching my indoor cat interact with an outdoor stray who just started hanging around my complex. We’re on the bottom floor, with a patio the occasional stray cat seems to like as it’s quiet and secluded. My torbie is very territorial and will charge the sliding glass door at any curious cat who comes up to the door. She doesn’t snarl, scream, or bite at least and stops short of hurting herself.

    The other cats, who just seem curious about her, are usually baffled or startled and leave sheepishly. Not the new stray today, a Maine Coon who Did Not Give a Flea about my cat charging the glass (safely) over and over.

    The Maine Coon watched her for a bit with curiosity, then decided to take a nap in the sun against the sliding glass door. Eventually my cat stopped pouncing and swatting and just stared at him. Then, she sort of sighed and lay down against the glass next to him enjoying the sun shining through.

    If you can’t beat them, join them?

    1. acmx*

      Maybe your cat was just trying to play with t he cats before? Not a cat owner.

      Glad she joined the visitor in a nap in the sun :)

  50. PugLife*

    This is my first Thanksgiving with no plans – none – and I’m pretty chill with it.

    Thanksgiving was never a good holiday for me growing up, and I’ve never quite managed to end up with a satisfying Friendsgiving.

    I finally feel free :)

  51. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    Happy Thanksgiving, Americans! It’s just a regular old Friday here in New Zealand, but I’m knocking off at 2:30 to have a pedicure and then a girls’ night in with my BFF because hubby is away. So I feel a little bit celebratory!

  52. Falling Diphthong*

    We have passed some sort of threshold where, if you ask the person at the rental car counter if they have any cars, they will say no. (This was after discovering that our reservation with Hertz was at a location in a far outlying suburb that closed in 20 minutes, not the airport.) But if you step to the side, pull out your phone, and go online, you can rent a car at Hertz, at the airport location in which you are standing, and they will give you a reservation. And then the people at the counter will process it, no problem, even though 10 minutes ago they told you there were no cars to be had. (I think they had seen so many people that they didn’t register we were the exact same people as 10 minutes ago?)

    I used to figure the human interfaces would know about some corners the computers didn’t, but it seems that is no longer so.

    1. nep*

      So many things remind me of a Seinfeld scene.
      Jerry to agent: ‘That’s really the most important part of the reservation — the holding.’

    2. copy run start*

      No, the humans are pretty hopeless. I had brought a PO to a different agency a couple months ago and the woman behind the counter was BAFFLED. I know lots of government agencies use procurement cards these days, but when you don’t have one in your name… It turned into a huge mess. Even though they confirmed over the phone that they accepted them. I really wanted to ask her if she had a manual that she could check… but I resisted.

      It seemed like it was more of a sales job based on all the upsells I got (rent the more expensive car! buy all our insurance or you’ll be bankrupt! buy our tank of gas! buy satellite radio!) than anything else.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        My favorite detail was the background for the remote staff, who are all in front of a green screen displaying a winding mountain road somewhere in the west. It looks like they have all parked their rolling chairs in a line right in the middle of a road, and this interaction will continue until a semi barrels through.

  53. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Well, I have my knee elevated, my doggy is snoring away on his great-grandparents’ chair, and there is a Boulevardier in my hand. Not too shabby.

  54. Gina Linetti*

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    I landed another part time gig as an office manager for a local church. Only 15 hours a week, but I’m grateful to have it. Still looking for something full time.

    1. nep*

      Oh hey that is great. Happy for you. Terrific to have that part-time gig while you’re looking. All the best.

  55. @Myrin and @SpiderLadyCEO - Book Lover -*

    @Myrin and @SpiderLadyCEO – thanks for the prompt to go back to AO3. I remembered how much I like time travel and regular fix it fix and did a search for those tags and sorted by bookmarks. Politics has been stressing me out and obsessively reading fanfic has been much healthier for me than obsessively cycling between slate, vox, etc.
    Currently reading a cheerful monster of a story called Harry Potter and the Problem of Potions. Read a few Star Wars and Lord of the Rings ones, also, though not my favorite fandoms.

    1. SpiderLadyCEO*

      I’m so happy that worked out for you! Fic is definitely my comfort in this cold dark world, and I’m glad it’s bringing you some as well. Here’s to you finding something really juicy in one of your fandoms!

    2. Maya Elena*

      You might like the Daria fandom, or what’s left of it (it’s an MTV show that ended around 2000).
      Try “outpost daria” and “paperapusher message board”.
      Also go watch the show first :p.

      I personally prefer old funny fics to current angst-ridden ones, but that is just me.

  56. Elizabeth West*

    Happy Thanksgiving!!!

    I had yummy shrimp with spaghetti and roasted some of the cut-up veggies I still had and it was delicious. Didn’t want to drive three hours just to sit around. It’s nice out, so I went for my walk earlier. I have a hair appointment tomorrow and there will be pampering. \0/ I can’t really afford it, but I need to keep my hair looking good since I’m job-hunting (don’t want an inch of grey roots hanging out).

    I sold my oak dining table and got what I wanted for it. That helped me get my utility account out of arrears–whew. I hope it stays warm-ish until I find a job. It’s expensive to heat this cruddy old house and I don’t have any alternative.

    NaNoWriMo is not going well–I got sick a couple of weeks ago and lost four days, and now I have to backtrack and do some world-building. FINE WHATEVS. Oh well, it got me going on this thing and that’s what I wanted. I may write a little bit tonight or I may just watch a movie and stalk one of my crushes online, LOL. (I’ve got four going right now–two are real and two are literary–it’s emotionally exhausting.) It sucks but I guess my heart just cannot be idle. It’s like the heart in the Awkward Yeti comics. :)×1024.jpg

    1. Effie, who is worth it*

      Happy Thanksgiving!

      I don’t have anything especially uplifting or witty to say (I’m not a wordsmith the way you are!). I guess I just hope that you know that you are loved and valuable and you’re going to make it. All my best!

  57. Aphrodite*

    I’m having Thanksgiving alone too and I am content with it. Unfortunately, it is 81 degrees (90 yesterday!) in southern coastal California and last week when I knew this, I decided to switch gears. I had fractured my wrist in a bad fall little more than a week before Thanksgiving so between that and the horrible warm temps I decided to go both easy and colder. My menu is: shrimp cocktail, my mosaic (green) salad, a new stuffed lobster halves frozen dish from Trader Joe’s (and it looks fantastic), steamed artichoke, and the pumpkin ice cream, also from TJ’s, that tastes just like pumpkin pie.

    Dinner will be in just over two hours. Yum! Then I will enjoy an evening of Hannah and Her Sisters, a wonderful T-Day movie.

  58. Ruth602*

    I signed up at work to buy a holiday gift for a needy child and my letter is from a 9 year old boy. He likes math and coding and has asked for a coding gift. I’m only allowed to spend $40 and I don’t want to buy anything that requires a computer or iPad in case he does not have that. Any and all suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you!!!

    1. Colette*

      Not quite coding, but Snap Circuits is fun, and the junior edition may fit your budget. It lets kids build circuits based on plans (e.g. doorbell, fan).

      Alternatively, logic-based games would be good, but I have no specific suggestions.

    2. Singin’ the anonymous Thanksgiving blues*

      If you live in a major metro area, look up local science museums and see if they have any math or coding-related events or exhibits for which you could buy him tickets. Also, take a look in their gift shop: there might be some good stuff there.

      Also, maybe a subscription to Popular Science or something similar? I used to have a science-obsessed stepdaughter, and her grandparents bought her a subscription. Her favorite day of the month was the day it arrived in the mail, and she read every single issue cover to cover.

    3. Book Lover*

      Code monkey island is a board game that teaches coding. Pretty much anything else I can think of is more expensive or requires a computer. I thought of snap circuits also, but it sounds like he specifically wanted a coding tool.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

        You’d need a monitor and power supply etc though. If they don’t already have those items then it will be sort of useless.

  59. Wrench Turner*

    The best part about Thanksgiving, besides 4 days in a row without the work alarm clock, is the turkey on sale stupid cheap the next day. I’m going to get one to spatchcock and grill/smoke. Meanwhile I broke the single solitary bolt holding down a switch on the motorcycle, which means either I can spend $20 to tap out a new bolt hole – or $150 and several hours for a new front brake master cylinder assembly. Fortunately, the bike still rides (mostly) safely, so it’s Black Friday shopping to find some tools and parts I need.

    Still debating getting a DSLR to expand my art capabilities. I’m a decent photographer of things in the wild but it will also let me get print-quality images of my larger paintings.

  60. Natalie*

    I am having a super quiet thanksgiving – husband had (scheduled) back surgery on Tuesday so he is still in the hospital. I had lunch with one segment of my family earlier today, but right now I’m watching football and making watermelon rind pickles before I head off to watch more football with husband at the hospital. Never made or had them before but I grew a bunch of watermelons this year and that’s apparently how you preserve them!

    The unexpected downside is that the heat exchanger in our furnace cracked and it got red-tagged. So my house hovers between 53 and 56 degrees right now. This was… not in the plan.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Oh no!
      Can you get a couple of those oil-filled electric radiators to help until you can get it fixed? I have them because my house only has a floor furnace and there is no heat in the bedrooms (which are small). I like them because there are no open heating elements and they don’t make any noise.

      1. Natalie*

        We have one, but it doesn’t help terrible much – our house is small but it’s open floorplan so you can’t shut the doors and just heat the living room or whatever. It was sunny today so I opened all of the curtains and we got 4 degrees by solar gain alone.

    2. fposte*

      Oh, I remembered that surgery was a possibility for him but I didn’t realize it had gone ahead. Hope it went well and he’s recovering swiftly.

  61. anon attorney*

    So I don’t live in the USA and don’t do Thanksgiving but I hope all who have been/are doing it are enjoying it.

    I have been doing a lot of therapy this past year after a life-changing event and I feel like lately I’m really getting into the hard stuff, which is … hard. Today I am trying to shake off the parental conditioning that says I must be Doing Something Useful all the time. I live alone and I am not in work this week so it Does Not Matter if I stay in my PJs all day, watch 43 Grey’s Anatomy episodes back to back, don’t do my dishes for three days and am marinating a quiet obsession with the placement of each individual sequin on Strictly (that’s the UK version of Dancing with the Stars, I believe). Nobody, except you folks, even needs to know.

    Next life lesson: tell the person I have feelings about that I have feelings. Maybe leave that for another year though.

    1. Singin’ the anonymous Thanksgiving blues*

      Re: Doing Something Useful.

      I have a theory about human motivation. I came up with this theory while with my ex, who is a super-duper overachiever.

      I think people are motivated by either productivity or sloth.

      If you were to give my ex and me identical to-do lists, we’d do about an equally good job and we’d take about the same amount of time to finish.

      And then he’d say, “I did all the stuff! What do you want me to do next?” Whereas I’d say, “I did all the stuff and now I get to goof off!”

      I think it’s useful to know which type you are and choose your motivations accordingly and not apologize for it.

  62. Meredith*

    I used to dance every day in high school, around 20 hours a week (4-5 hours a day). I’d really really love to dance that much again, or at least 2 classes everyday.

    What I’m wondering is, how do people afford it? I live in NYC. And I know there are some people who take multiple classes everyday at Broadway Dance Center, and I wonder how. 2 classes a day at $20 each is around $1000 a month.

    Is there something I’m missing? Any advice?

    1. Ann O.*

      Some people have high salary dayjobs so $1000/month is in their hobby budget. Some may be doing a work/class exchange (I teach at a studio and part of my compensation is free classes). Some may be using ClassPass or an equivalent.

      Good luck!

    2. Effie, who is worth it*

      Hi, I used to live in NYC and am a dance teacher. What kind of classes are you looking for?

      1. Meredith*

        Well I really like the classes at BDC. I really just want to take as many styles as possible again. I’ve tried some random places on classpass, but the ones I’ve found haven’t been great (so far). I guess it’s just a money issue. You have to already be good and have a career path to qualify for scholarship.

        1. Effie, who is worth it*

          Oh okay, I see! That’s tricky then. They don’t offer a work study position at all, do they? I suppose you could try asking if there’s anything you could barter for classes? Peridance near Union Square once offered me an unpaid part-time website translation position in return for unlimited dance classes, which I turned down (time/need money constraints and all). Sorry I can’t be more helpful!

          Have you though about Meetup or Vimbly? They often have low-cost or free classes for first-timers. It’s a good way to try out a class/location/style (although since you have ClassPass I guess this is kind of moot).

    3. TL -*

      I don’t know about NYC but a lot of studios in places I’ve been offered unlimited monthly class passes – you could combine 2 of those and have some variety for – oh, $200-250/month in some places? Maybe more in NYC area. I’ve also done volunteering for classes, as suggested.

      If you like partner dancing/ballroom dancing, you can also go out and dance for a few nights a week for an even greater combination without adding on to the budget.

  63. QualityControlFreak*

    This was our first Thanksgiving without spouse/dad. We had my family over, 10 people. We made it through. Of course my daughter was eyeing the mountain of dishes in something akin to despair, but that can be a job for tomorrow. And nobody will have to cook for several days.

      1. QualityControlFreak*

        That means a lot to me, NSNR. You are unfailingly kind and empathetic here, and you’ve shared enough of your life that I think you understand better than most where I’m at right now. I hope you had a very happy Thanksgiving.

  64. Sparkly Librarian*

    I dyed all my hair purple, and I love it. People at work commented favorably, too, and I was looking forward to surprising my family when I visited for Thanksgiving. But no one here likes it. So they’re “not saying anything at all” and it’s really obvious. No, actually, my dad asked if I was wearing a fright wig. Ugh. It’s not the first time I’ve dyed my hair; I just haven’t had the money to get it done professionally in a long time (got a deal in exchange for portfolio pictures for an apprentice).

    I’m so glad I’m an adult with healthy boundaries and am happy enough with myself that I can love my hair and don’t need their approval.

    1. anon24*

      Purple hair is awesome! I had mine purple once, before it was cool. I loved it and I loved how differently people treated me. Fascinating social experiment.

    2. Rogue*

      I have purple hair too! Go us! I gave up caring if my family likes my hair or not. My mom will never like it, no matter what I do to it. So, as long as you like it, that’s what matters!

    3. fposte*

      Oh, I bet it looks gorgeous. I’ve lost track of time–will see see it on Jeopardy or has that already happened? (And did you ever espalier apples, btw? I was looking at an old post the other day where you and I were talking about that.)

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Oh, I had some purple streaks when Jeopardy! was taped, but I don’t know how much they showed on camera. That’ll air the week before Christmas for most audiences. I understand that regular programming sometimes get bumped for special events, so it’s not guaranteed everywhere.

        I… planted apple trees. In a row. Other than tying them to a starter trellis, I haven’t done much about the espalier form. One of the five bore fruit this summer, surprisingly, but they’re all young trees that can still be shaped. I should get on that!

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          That was you, with the purple hair? I thought it looked so cool on tv! (And you were great!)

  65. Meredith*

    People who make enough money to be able to support themselves and also have hobbies… what’s it like? Do you just get excited when you find stuff you want to do and then immediately make plans? For people who didn’t always have it, was it what you expected?

    1. SpiderLadyCEO*

      A lot of my plans/hobbies are free, so there’s that…but for me, if I don’t have something to do, somewhere to go I go a bit crazy. When I was unemployed last year and living on savings, I tried to find something to do every day. As for like, events and things, if it’s not something hard to get tickets for that I desperately want to do, I just write down the event in my planner, and when it gets closer to the date I decide if I can afford to go/still want to.

      (Free hobbies are hiking/walking local trails, playing Pokemon Go, biking, my library’s bookclub. Now that I live in the north, I plan on buying ice skates so after the cost of the skates, apparently that will be free, too!)

    2. Specialk9*

      I get excited about lots of things, but don’t follow through with many because my imagination doesn’t necessarily pan out. So my rule is I have to ‘earn’ good hobby equipment. I’ll take a class first, then if still interested, I’ll get an el-cheapo version or look for used on eBay or Craigslist. Eventually I’ll transition to reasonable stuff if I stick with it for a year or two.

  66. This Daydreamer*

    My back aches and my head hurts and I’m freezing cold and beyond exhausted after spending twelve hours at The Place that Must Not Be Named. It’s the first time I’ve ever been scheduled for it.

    It feels great.

    For the past decade, Thanksgiving has been the anniversary of the day after my sister suddenly died and I’ve had to make excuses to not go to Dad’s house for several hours, being around people I’ve never been comfortable around and missing her so damn much. Yeah, I’m crying now, because it still hurts, but I got twelve hours of overtime doing a good thing and I think she would be proud.

    And, for the first time, Dad is proud of me. He has no idea how I can do what I do.

    And I am thankful. And crying. Partly because I only got about four hours of sleep last night.

  67. Fishing Rick*

    Hello everyone, I posted here a few weeks ago in a daze of pain and hospital induced sadness about my open gallbladder removal. Just wanted to say thanks to everyone in this lovely community for the kind words as I am home and much more on the mend. I hope everyone who celebrates it, had a lovely holiday. This was my family’s first Thanksgiving on the other side of the country and I think it turned out well.

  68. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

    I just had steaks-giving at a restaurant with a friend. She ate the turkey special and I…did not (mostly I dislike all the texture and flavor of the “mushy” side dishes). And it was delicious…an excellent start to both our birthday weekend, where there will be much tiara wearing for no good reason other than we claim “birthday”. Case in point…we are going to a snow crab festival Saturday. With tiaras! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

  69. nacho*

    I’m working overtime during Thanksgiving this year, which is going to get me a gigantic paycheck I can spend on Black Friday.

    Yay capitalism!

  70. Fish Microwaver*

    Happy Thanksgiving Peeps.
    Alison, it’s late November. Shouldn’t you have your hat and scarf on? :)

  71. BlackFury7622*

    Sorry this is going to be long. This has absolutely nothing to do with work, but I need some help. I think Im doing ok but I still feel weird.
    My husband left me for my best friend. It was very tough and dramatic between the adults, but we kept it to a minimum because my son liked her. I got what I wanted as far as custody goes in the divorce, I just didnt want to cut him off from his father, so as difficult as it was I got my son and we are toughing it out over a year later.

    A little background on me, I have this ruthlessly practical side that I got from my mother that can sometimes make me seem cold. It comes out in tough and bad situations, so I long ago stopped apologising for it.

    So ex-husband’s new girlfriend (my ex-best friend) calls. Her mom is in the hospital. There has been some difficulty, a decision has to be made. She is arguing with her sisters, but she has power of attorney. She is aware that I have had to make that decision before and wants my advice.


    1. Em*

      Um, wow. I’d be polite and just say that’s a very personal decision and you don’t feel comfortable giving in depth advice. Aka, I’m being polite, but go away, we’re not friends like that anymore.

      1. C Average*

        This. You’re under no moral, philosophical, or other obligation to offer her any kind of support. Presumably she has other friendships; if not, she can seek out a therapist or social worker. You’re not Obi-Wan and you’re not her only hope and you don’t have to help her just because she’s asked.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Compliment: This is a measure of how really great you’re doing at appearing totally pulled together and mature. Like, if someone was going through a divorce and hubby was taking up with her best friend, people would tell her to try and radiate this kind of “I am pulled together, pleased with my new life, and do not spend any time stewing in self-pity about the past.” They would point to you as the model of how to carry this off, because it is far more effective than the best wit-of-the-staircase rejoinder you could think up.

      That said, you can be a model of cool and still maintain boundaries. A blunt “You had an affair with my husband; I don’t feel I can give you best-friend advice on how to deal with emotionally taxing situations” is allowed. Rising to the occasion means staying civil when it’s tough, not being a doormat to other people’s steam-rollers.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Redirect her back to her siblings. “Sorry, I can’t help because each family comes to their own conclusion how to handle things. I can’t interfere with what your sibs are telling you.”

      Keep it short. If she pushes, just say, “Nope, sorry. That is a decision that the immediate family makes.”

      Some people will just take and take and take. Draw your lines and stick to those boundaries.

      Am very sorry about the total shake up in your life but I really admire how you are handling it.

  72. Workaholic*

    Thanksgiving was interesting. I’ve spent my life grateful about my wonderful family. But this year – my aunt and uncle mostly talked about politics and religion. I stayed silent as long as i could but finally snapped when an inflection in the voice reminded me of the “I’m right and everyone else is going to hell” viewpoint. Quiet, soft spoken, laid back me – jumped right in the middle of it all. I asked my mom today if she’d been upset by my outburst. Turns out she agrees with me – at least “don’t presume to tell me what i should or should not believe” and “the two things you NEVER. Talk about at holiday gatherings: politics and religion. You can discuss those topics the rest of the year one-on-one”

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