{ 675 comments… read them below }

  1. Kacihall*

    Wish me luck! I had to work OT on Monday and couldn’t get to the kitchen last night. So tonight when I get home I have two cakes, a dessert, and two big batches of rolls to bake!

      1. PollyQ*

        I was in line at the grocery store this morning, and the guy in front of me made a mad dash to go grab some of the “good” rolls, i.e., King’s Hawaiian, so of course I thought of the cheap-ass rolls and smiled.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Someone grabbed the last pack of King’s Hawaiian rolls while I was deciding and then offered them to me when they changed their mind. It was very sweet and also made me think of AAM

        2. Comment Period Has Closed*

          Last year, someone brought Kings Hawaiian rolls to Thanksgiving dinner and my three year old became obsessed with them. I kept giggling about it.

        3. Artemesia*

          I was at the deli and noticed that there were about six kinds of the odious overly sweet Hawaiian roles. Didn’t seem any rush to snap them up LOL. We aren’t having rolls at all.

      1. Kacihall*

        So the cakes were requested specifically by our moms. And I know full well that other people that will be there don’t like banana cake or carrot cake. So I’m making something I can split up and bring to both dinners. Haven’t actually decided what yet. (And the clock is ticking!)

  2. HannahS*

    Outdoorsy parents/caregivers, talk to me about how you do outdoor recreation with your kids (of all ages.)

    I’m an unathletic indoorsy person in a cold climate (Canada.) This is my first winter with a toddler. She’s only 14 months old, so not really able to get much out of a playground yet. What can I do with her outside? I’m not worried about the cold; I know how to dress for it, but just am unsure of what to actually do, other than toddle around.

    1. avocadolime*

      “Explore” an area (college campus, downtown, a park). If it has things to climb on (rocks, bike racks, benches, etc.) all the better.
      My kids loved to swing at that age, though winter gear makes getting them in and out of the baby swings a huge pain.
      “Paint” snow with different colored water in squirt bottles.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        This is a great idea — when I was a toddler, my dad used to take me to the local college campus and let me wander around, climb on stuff, interact with passing students and tourists, etc. It was a safe enough environment that he could let me explore while watching me from a distance, and I think that helped me on my journey to being the independent person I am today. Thanks, Dad!

    2. WellRed*

      Stick her in a stroller and hit the pavement. Checkout out the weather, the trees, leaves, birds etc.

      1. I need coffee to make coffee*

        We had plastic sled with a long rope we pulled the kids around in. Also, snow angels are fun.

    3. LittleBabyDamien*

      Go for walks and follow her lead. Chat about the things/people you see! If it is dusk/dark and there are Christmas lights, bonus! Get to know the dog walkers in your neighbourhood.
      Go places with lots of birds hanging out. Take some birdseed (better for birds than bread) if the birds aren’t too aggressive. Avoid feeding sea gulls. Don’t even consider Canada geese.
      Watch dogs at a dog park. Watch teens at a skate park. Watch teams at playing fields.
      Find a parent’s group that meets up, perhaps one with older siblings to toddlers?
      Check your rec centre for any programs that involve toddlers and outdoors.
      Some events that young ones in my family have enjoyed have included things like the Christmas train, Christmas parades and other holiday themed events that include lots of lights. Things without crowds and flexible start and end times are easier for toddlers.

      1. Lizzo*

        A note about dogs: if your kiddo is interested in interacting with them, please teach her to ask before approaching the dog, and also to ask about how best to interact with the dog (e.g. where is a good place to pet the dog). Even if she’s too young to ask these questions, model that process for her so that it’s normal when she gets older. This is in the best interests for her safety and also for positive interactions for everyone. :-)

        1. Lenora Rose*

          This is good advice, and just what I did with my kiddo (The one who isn’t scared of dogs. I tried with her, too, but her inclination to hide/back away works even better for most situations, tbh.) Ask if you can approach, if you can pet, if you can throw the ball… and take no as an answer with a gracious “thank you anyhow!”. We’ve had fabulous times with someone else’s dog in a park… and also had nice polite exchanges with no touching or approach.

        2. BubbleTea*

          My toddler (not yet actually toddling but he probably will be soon) adores dogs, and I’ve taught him to wave hello. He does know that you can touch dogs because we have one, but he appears not to realise that you can theoretically touch ALL dogs, which is probably a good thing.

        3. Gnome*

          Yes! Took my toddler and puppy to the tot lot and some kid about age six starts trying to feed my dog rocks! We had to leave. If my dog has been older, it w

            1. Gnome*

              Commenting on my phone apparently has drawbacks. Yes, the rest was supposed to be, “…ouldn’t have ended well.”

              The kid basically ran up to the dog and started trying to shove rocks in is mouth. Being a puppy, the dog was befuddled and just sort of walked away. I then went between them (toting a baby in a baby-Bjorn and a toddler by the hand) and said, something like, “No. Don’t try to feed him rocks. Please leave him alone.” The kid then started THROWING rocks… so we just left. Toddler was NOT happy.

    4. Picklehead*

      – Toddling around is great!
      – Walk on & crunch frozen / fallen leaves
      – Short hikes in the woods
      – Tasting snow
      – Snow angels/other non-religious term of your choice
      – Kicking a big ball around
      – Picking up sticks and making patterns in the snow / dirt
      – Hot/warm chocolate in a thermos (special outdoor treat)
      – Falling down in the snow a lot

      At that age, just getting out and moving around is a blast!

    5. Dry Erase Aficionado*

      I hear you! My preferred outdoor activity is having a drink on a patio, so a small child who needed outside time and large muscle movement in cold weather was a challenge.

      when he was that age we went to parks for swings and slides, and walks around the neighborhood. He also liked being pulled in circles in the backyard in his sled. He loved climbing mountains of snow (mostly the piles next to sidewalks and driveways), and making snow angels.

    6. 40 Years In the Hole*

      Does your city do holiday/festival lights – either in a core area or specifically set up somewhere you can walk/pull a sled through? Outdoor skating where you could put her in a little sleigh while you walk/push her along? Winter festivals with lights, ice sculptures, treats, music, hot chocolate? Local library or museum with seasonal, kid-centric offerings? Visit a Xmas tree farm, or farm animal rescue/refuge to feed/interact with critters. Small toboggan hill. Late winter/early spring for sugaring off (maple syrup and pancakes!).
      Maybe she won’t be that invested in much, time-wise; at that age I’m guessing she’s mostly along for the ride. But it’s something to do together and gets you “oot’n aboot” (yes, I am a winter-loving Canuck). Have fun!

    7. Critical Rolls*

      If you have gardens in your area open to the public, they can be fun and interesting even in the winter. We have an annual pass to our local botanical garden and they do wonderful seasonal displays all year, and have walking trails and a great variety of evergreen and deciduous plants.

    8. KatEnigma*

      Does it have to be strictly outdoors vs “active”

      We were an hour south of Winnipeg when our son was that age. We DID take him to playgrounds- mostly indoor ones because there is no “knowing how to dress” for -40F to -60F. He liked the slide and there are usually little kid things and of course just watching other kids. We also enrolled him in a toddler tumbling class (with a parent until he was 3) and a toddler music program.

      1. Rara Avis*

        Ah yes … “Pump-a-dump” (pump It Up — inflatables) and the indoor wading pool at the local YMCA were winter favorites for my little one.

        1. KatEnigma*

          Oh right- our local gym has a toddler splash area inside and that pool was kept toasty! Then at when he was 3/4 we upgraded to the local hotel’s small indoor water park. They do stellar business from the locals in Jan-March. Because even the native North Dakotans don’t go out in those temperatures.

    9. Samwise*

      My baby is now 6 feet tall…

      But the main thing is not to worry about structuring time.

      Go at your child’s speed. If she wants to spend 15 minutes looking at something, that’s what you do.

      Play “I spy with my little eye…” — a simple version for her level.

      Scuff thru leaves

      Stomp in the snow

      Draw on the sidewalk with big chalk, if she has the dexterity for it.

      Gather up pebbles or leaves or sticks or pine cones. Put them in lines or in piles.

      Sing songs. Make up a walking song with her name in it (NAME is going for a walk today! Hurray hurray a walk today! etc)

      Man, I miss my little dude! I mean, he’s an excellent young man, I love spending time with him, but he’s not little any more, those toddler days were sweet… Hmm, something in my eye…clears throat…

      1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        Aw, I bet the fact that your little dude is now an excellent young man is due very much to your kind, caring parenting, as shown by your advice here.

        I remember reading that when people are older, what they appreciate most about their childhood is not how many fancy things they had or fancy classes they went to or fancy vacations they went on, but just having people who treated them kindly. I’m sure your former little dude appreciates what a great childhood you gave him!

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      Toddling around looking for good sticks is endlessly fascinating to toddlers.

      I had to make a strict rule that if they found any great rocks, they had to be the ones to carry them. Even if they thought Daddy would really, really like this rock.

      1. Elle R.*

        Toddling is very fun for toddlers.

        – “Helping Shovel the path” Having a little shovel (it can be a cheap one like you’d use with sand on the beach) and shoveling snow is very fun to a toddler.

        – Make Maple Syrup candy. If you pour Maple syrup on the clean *key word clean* snow it hardens into candy.

        – Poke snow with sticks. Endless fun. Everything is new to a toddler so they truly don’t need much.

      2. Blackcat*

        I highly recommend throwing sticks into/onto bodies of water. Hours and hours of toddler entertainment. If not stupid cold, splashes are fun. If it is stupid cold, bouncing on ice is fun.

      3. Jay (no, the other one)*

        When Daddy is a geologist, Daddy will carry some of the rocks. Daddy will also have rocks at home and Baby will have to learn about The Rocks You Cannot Touch. And when Baby is a bigger kid and wants to stop sucking her thumb, Daddy will have an unending supply of small smooth stones she can carry in her pocket as an alternate soothing device.

        Baby is now 22 and off in my car retrieving Dunkin’ coffee, because they don’t really have Dunkin’ where she lives now. I don’t really miss the toddler years – I am much better suited to be the mom of a teen/young adult – but man oh man do I miss her when she’s not here.

        Parent of younger kids, take heart. The teen years can be AWESOME.

    11. snoopythedog*

      Mom of a 16 month old, also in a cold part of Canada. We basically just toddle around outside.
      -playground: basically just walking up and down the structures, sometimes he wants to slide, sometimes he wants to swing, but mostly just exploring
      -walk the neighbourhood. my kid likes walking? I just bring a sled or stroller for when he inevitably gets tired
      -stomp in snow, i make snowballs and hold them in my palms and he smushes them
      -walk up and down the driveway
      -walk down the street and look at lights or light festivals
      -he has a kids sized plastic shovel is obsessed with shoveling snow, we *must* shovel with him with our adult shovel.
      -pulling him around on a sled
      -examine snow covered tree branches and bushes

      honestly, at this age, you just let them explore. your main is keeping them from doing unsafe things that will hurt them. We spent 10 minutes just stomping a pile of snow the other day…

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. And depending on how much snow there is and how fast it’s cleared, toddlers and preschoolers usually love climbing on piles of snow. My son adored playing King/Queen of the Hill with his friends on huge piles of snow that were taller than the average adult. Sliding down them was especially fun.

    12. Educator*

      I would not underestimate the power of toddling around. My earliest and fondest childhood memories are of my parents taking me to interesting outdoor places (a lake, a hill, a field, etc.) and just letting me explore. They got adorably excited about whatever caught my eye. The goal was often just “find something interesting to tell Grandpa about when we get home.” It really taught me to explore, observe, and imagine.

    13. Anonymato*

      Draw in the snow (possibly with a stick).
      Compare what “stamps” different shoes make, step into each others footsteps, and follow a footstep trail. Make picture of handprints.

      Bring an snowball home and watch it melt (on a baking tray or similar).

      Make music by carefully hitting icicles.

      But if your kid is anything like my kid, just sliding on tiny ice area, and climbing a miniature hill might be more than enough entertainment.

    14. Greengirl*

      We did a lot of hiking with my son when he was 14 months old. They’d be short and we had a hiking backpack but he loved it. I looked up local parks and would take him to new ones to keep things interesting. That’s how we got through Covid winter.

    15. You’re a good parent*

      My youngest became not-a-toddler right as Covid hit, so this advice might be outdated, but the absolute best thing I did with my then-little kid was Free Forest School. I do know all chapters shut down in 2020, and some chose to morph into local groups, and it’s likely that lots of areas didn’t come back into the organization. But it was a kid-led regularly scheduled walk/story/sharing time outdoors in all weather coordinated by volunteers. It was the absolute best experience in teaching community, respect for nature, grit, mindfulness, and so much more.

    16. Good luck!*

      Your kid can’t remember ever seeing a winter before. So every time you take them outside, from their perspective, you’re taking them to an exotic and exciting locale to explore. Snow! What is THAT about?? So cold! It melts! You can throw it! Ice! So slippery! Frost! So pretty! Leaves! So crunchy!

      So just “toddling around” is the equivalent of a major exploratory expedition, from the perspective of a 14-month-old’s growth and development.

      My youngest was an avid stick collector, as someone else mentioned, who progressed to acorns and other plant detritus as she got older. We used to spend literally hours wandering around and adding to the collection. Also at 14 months my kids did enjoy the playground with help – they couldn’t do all the climbing solo but they all loved the slide, so I’d boost them up the stairs/ladder/whatever and then encourage them to slide down. My youngest hated the swings but my oldest loved them from babyhood.

      We did a lot of nature trails, with kids on a sled or in a carrier as appropriate. There’s a trail near our house where birds will eat birdseed right out of your hand! (Not recommended now with all the bird flu, sadly, but for next year maybe there’s one like that near you.)

      Also a second vote for “snow painting”, still a favourite into the pre teen years in my house.

      I was not an outdoorsy person in my pre-kids life but after many years of having to burn off kid energy somehow I’ve actually started to really enjoy being active in nature. You like what you’re used to I think :)

    17. Summer Day*

      Join an outdoor playgroup.

      Let them toddle and explore and pick things up (teach them about “yucks” so they don’t pick everything up. The rule about them having to carry anything they wanted to keep is golden- nearly backfired when my youngest mobilised four preschool friends to carry a massive log for about a kilometre!! They gave up 100m from the car (phew)! Remember the same park is boring to you but they get their favourite little spots and love to return. So a combo of different and familiar is good.

      If you have a yard, make it a fun place to be. Put in a sandpit. Have bits of wood for them to “build” things or put up a wee tent/ sun shelter in summer. Playing with a bucket of water and some scoops and letting them pour it wherever is fun for them (make mud).

      When my boys started primary school I parked a wee way away so they had to walk through a park with a wee bit of bush and a stream to get to the car which was peaceful and pleasant for all of us! Someone had felled a log across the stream so while I would choose the bridge I let them scramble down the bank, across the log and up the other side which they loved.

      Be ok with getting dirty- pack towels and a change of clothes in the car at all times! You probably have them in Canada but waterproof pants are fab!!

    18. Majnoona*

      When my kids were small I would take them to a hotel – not get a room but just walk around long corridors, empty conference rooms, interesting lobbies and then get hot chocolate in a hotel restaurant

  3. Constance Lloyd*

    Dessert thread! What are your favorite non-standard desserts to bring? Non-standard is defined however you like it to be. I’m trying out a cranberry curd tart this year alongside the standard apple pie, which my in laws always top, cold, with a slice of Kraft American cheese.

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        They all insist it’s the only way to eat apple pie, I haven’t tried to acquire the taste. They also say it’s regional? But my partner and I only grew up 4 hours away from each other, and when I lived in his town for a couple years I never met anybody else who did that!

          1. DannyG*

            I grew up in New England: apple pie, a slice of Vermont sharp cheddar, & a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

            1. JSPA*

              For those who’ve never had good cheddar with apple, it’s at least a vague approximation. If your Apple pie tends towards bland, sweet and doughy, the kraft single continues the “more or less the white bread of deserts” theme.

            2. The Other Dawn*

              I, too, grew up in New England. I’ve never tried cheddar on apple pie; however, my father always ate it that way. I love the combo of sharp cheedar and apple or grapes/sweet and salty, so I’m sure I would have liked the pie with cheddar. But as a kid, my first thought was, “EWWWW gross!” My sister made apple pie for today, so maybe I’ll finally try it. :)

        1. LadyB*

          In Yorkshire (UK), we say ‘an apple pie/Christmas cake without the cheese, is like the kiss without the squeeze’
          Wensleydale is the cheese of choice though – nice and sharp against the sweetness of the pie/cake

          1. BubbleTea*

            Huh. I’m originally from Yorkshire and this is the first time I’ve heard this! I’ll have to ask around.

            1. Isobel*

              Can confirm Wensleydale with Christmas cake is a Yorkshire thing (and I have heard of cheese with apple pie as well, though less often). I was born in Sheffield and now live in Leeds.

              1. Angel Delight*

                Not just Yorkshire, we also do this a bit further north, in Durham. I’ve never heard the rhyme before, though. I love stuff like that!

            2. SelinaKyle*

              Ditto, I don’t like Christmas cake, actually I don’t like any traditionally Christmas desserts. However I may have to try apple cake with cheese

          2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

            Came here to say this! My friend who says the “hug/squeeze” rhyme is a Mancunian, so I think of it as Lancashire rather than Yorkshire. (I’m a half-Pole who grew up in Kent and now lives in Australia so am not weighing in on the local idioms of anywhere.)

          3. MugShot Coffee*

            Cheese with apple pie is absolutely a British thing, and I love this additional info from aYorkshire, thank you.
            Kraft cheese slices, I throw my hands up in despair!! How to take a great food tradition and stomp it in the gutter ;)

            1. londonedit*

              Don’t even get me started on the orange stuff they insist on calling Cheddar in the USA…it’s an affront to my heritage ;)

        2. 40 Years In the Hole*

          Try a drizzle – or more – of warmed caramel and dulce de leche spread on the pie. Or on anything :D

        3. Lenora Rose*

          I’m genuinely surprised. Like, I enjoy my kraft singles, whether I ought to or not (including in some foods that would horrify the people from the non-cheese-eating cultures I’m abusing) — but for apple pie, it wants a good, moderately sharp cheddar or similar, or else no cheese, thanks.

      2. Tired SW*

        Ooh! I collect vintage cookbooks and I’ve definitely seen that recommended circa 1950-60s. I believe it was once traditional to have a wedge of high quality cheddar with apple pie and that morphed into Kraft singles courtesy of mid-century food manufacturers.

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          That makes so much sense! I’ve offered to cut a Gruyère or a sharp white cheddar into the crust, and everybody has been open to the idea but also said they would definitely still throw a Kraft single on top, either way. I think it would make more sense to me if the pie was warm and the cheese could melt a little bit!

            1. Lily of the Valley*

              Kraft singles are the best at melting. Processed cheese food is much meltier than cheese owing to the additional milk solids and whatever that additive is (something citrate? Am too lazy to google).

              1. KatEnigma*

                This. It’s why Wahlburgers sourced the closest they could get to “government cheese” like they used to give out at WIC and other government food programs, for their cheeseburgers. It’s so salty and melty that it makes the best grilled cheese and cheeseburgers… In fact, even cold it’s basically half melted. LOL

          1. Tired SW*

            I just located a recipe for “Apple Cheese pie” in my copy of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, new and revised edition (1978). It suggests layering American cheese with the apple filling. And it was definitely presented like a totally normal option, along with Dutch Apple Pie and French Apple Pie, so it seems it was pretty well established in American food culture by 1978.

            1. Constance Lloyd*

              The apple and cheese combo doesn’t throw me, it’s specifically the practice of eating American cheese at refrigerator temperature that gives me pause. It’s an endearing quirk, my main food philosophy is that if you like what you’re eating*, you’ve done it right :)

              *and no food safety rules have been horrendously violated

            2. Tired SW*

              One last follow up (I get really excited about vintage food weirdness)! My copy of Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book (1950) has a recipe for Cheese Crust Apple Pie with the tagline “Apple Pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze. Here’s an intriguing way to serve the cheese. …when you roll out the top crust, sprinkle with sharp yellow American cheese (not packaged grated cheese). “

              1. Constance Lloyd*

                I love vintage food weirdness and will be a deeply enthusiastic recipient of any other fun facts or recipes you happen to come across.

      3. Lizzo*

        I mean…apples and cheese is a nice combo when the apples are raw, so…maybe just as good when the apples are baked in sugar and cinnamon???

      4. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Not Kraft Singles! You need a good sharp cheddar cheese. It’s a sweet/savory/gooey wonderful thing to eat.

      5. GasketGirl*

        My dad (a born and bred Wisconsinite) always claimed that it was illegal to serve a slice of apple pie in Wisconsin without cheese, and while it’s not actually illegal, it does make for a fun tidbit to tell the out-of-staters. And cheese on apple pie is actually pretty good. There’s just something about that salty/sweet combo that works.

        1. Cheese, plz*

          Lifelong Wisconsiner and we never did this in my family. Not that it isn’t a fun tidbit to tell! I was just thinking that I love a good extra sharp cheddar cheese along with an apple, sliced up and eaten in some combination, so why not with an apple pie? And yet I just haven’t brought myself to try it yet.

        2. nobadcats*

          The cheese thing might not be illegal, but margarine definitely was. In the 50s, through the early 80s, my mom, aunties, and grandparents often talked about making clandestine trips to Illinois to smuggle margarine across the border. https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/special-reports/dairy-crisis/2019/08/28/protect-dairy-industry-wisconsin-tried-keep-yellow-margarine-out-oleo-run/1950671001/

          But having tasted margarine, I’m not sure why they bothered. Surely, the cost of gas was more than the price bargain of icky, greasy margarine.

      6. Mother of Panthers*

        One of the best pies I’ve ever had was a green chili apple pie with sharp cheddar. Served at a tiny cafe in rural New Mexico.

    1. Pears*

      I’m going with saffron honey poached pears. They are festive and delicious but light and they might even satisfy the challenging list of dietary restrictions I’m trying to accommodate.

      1. The Editor in Chief*

        This is my go-to poached pears recipe:
        Working from the bottom, scoop out the core and seeds from 6 firm Bosc or Anjou pears.
        In a dutch oven or large pot, combine 1 1/2 C dry white wine, 1/2 C water, 3/4 C sugar, 2 2-inch strips of lemon zest, and 1 vanilla bean.
        Simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add pears and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Turn pears once so they coat with the syrup. Simmer another 10 minutes.
        Place the pears in a serving dish. Turn pot to medium high and reduce the syrup 10 minutes, until thick and golden. Pour over the pears. Let cool slightly; cover and chill.

        1. Nea*

          This isn’t as fancy, but for those avoiding cane sugar, peel, halve, and deseed slightly green pears. Simmer in mead or spiced wine, follow rest of instructions as above.

          1. Pears*

            I have to skip the lemon, sugar, and the wine, but saffron, honey, apple cider and vanilla will also be good :)

    2. Jackie*

      Well I just finished making a standard pumpkin pie. Realized I didn’t have any heavy cream for the recipe so I substituted EGG NOG. Guess we’ll find out tomorrow if it works!

      1. Quiet Riot*

        I read this a few hours ago and realized – s**t – I forgot the heavy cream. Absolutely none at the store so my husband brought home Califia Farms coconut/almond milk vanilla creamer. It’s a maple bourbon pumpkin pie – vanilla pairs well with that, right? Will be interesting!

      2. Artemesia*

        That sounds really good although I’d have cut a little sugar. The thing that is magic for pumpkin pies IMHO is an extra egg or two so they are really custardy and not heavy and sticky.

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        Hahahahaha I mean, it’s going to have to be at least three times as much cheese!

        But in all serious it’s a 1:1 cheese slice to pie slice ratio. I make a cardamom whipped cream and forego the cheese entirely on my pie slice.

          1. londonedit*

            For Midsummer this year I made a berry pavlova with cardamom whipped cream – went down an absolute storm!

    3. Shoney Honey*

      I have started bringing homemade baked doughnuts! For tomorrow, I’ve made a baked apple cider doughnut. For a summer potluck I brought lemon blueberry cake doughnuts. Easy to make, easy to transport, doesn’t require a plate to eat, they’re just simple and nice.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          It’s a doughnut that is baked and not deep fried. King Arthur Flour has the pans and recipe.

    4. PollyQ*

      My sister made a pumpkin mousse one year that was DELICIOUS. And one of my relatives was born on Thanksgiving, so there’s usually a birthday cake alongside the traditional pies. And then one year, someone’s friend’s mom dropped off a Tres Leches cake. That was probably a decade ago now, but I still remember that year fondly!

    5. Critical Rolls*

      I love ginger desserts, and they are often lighter than your traditional pies and cakes, with a nice zing to counter the tryptophan.

    6. cleo*

      We made a cranberry custard tart for the first time maybe 2 years ago and it was AMAZING! Tasted great and such a beautiful red color. It’s now our standard Thanksgiving dessert.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      The When Cherry Met Sally cake from a food thread here many many moons ago!

      A chocolate fudge boxed cake mix (dry – not prepared), a large tin of cherry pie filling, and the quantity of eggs your cake mix calls for. Mix by hand (a mixer will pulverize the cherries), and bake per instructions on the cake mix. (I always do mine in a bundt, but YMMV.) Very tasty frosted with chocolate, cream cheese frosting, caramel icing (which I think was the original poster’s recommendation), or even without any frosting at all.

      It’s also a pretty flexible recipe – if I’m going to my mom’s, instead of chocolate and cherry, I’ll do a spice cake mix with apple pie filling and sprinkle some chopped walnuts on top along with a caramel drizzle. White or lemon cake goes wonderfully with strawberry pie filling as well. I tried lemon cake with blueberry filling once, and that tasted good, but looked kind of moldy green and took twice as long to bake because of the higher liquid-to-fruit ratio in the blueberry filling. (I’ve never tried raspberry because I think it would have the same issue as the blueberry.)

    8. Other Meredith*

      I’ve made a really good apple tart before that has cheddar cheese baked into the crust, and the apples are drizzled with honey before baking. I’m going to have to make it again, it sounds so good right now.

    9. Miss Fisher*

      Chocolate Eclair Cake, which is my favorite thing on the planet and Punchbowl Cake. I don’t make the 2nd one, because it all has to be done so fast before the jello in it sets, and I can’t quite get it right, but try to persuade mom to make whenever she will. Its essentially white cake, strawberry jello soaked in, vanilla pudding and whipped cream along with strawberries mixed in… Really good and light.

        1. Miss Fisher*

          Pretty much. You layer graham crackers with a mixture of vanilla pudding and cool whip and then ice w chocolate frosting.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I make sugar free versions of both of those. I used to have a son-in-law who’s diabetic and he loves sweets so I learned to make a lot of things sugar free.
        Well, actually the exclair cake is low sugar rather than totally sugar free because I’ve never found sugar free Graham crackers, but a member of my church is a dietitian, and she said this was okay for diabetics.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Oh,and if you decide to do the low sugar eclair cake, I use sugar free fudge sundae syrup instead of frosting. It’s really thick and covers beautifully. Smucker’s is the brand I use.

    10. ThatGirl*

      The past few years we’ve had a non-standard just the two of us thanksgiving with Mexican food. Two years ago I made tres leches cake, last year chocolate pie, this year Mexican chocolate cake with cinnamon buttercream.

    11. Don'tbeadork*

      Balsamic vinegar (the really good stuff, not supermarket vaguely aged) drizzled over home made vanilla ice cream. If you can’t make the ice cream, then over a quality vanilla bean ice cream.

      It sounds vaguely disgusting but it is really very good.

      1. Artemesia*

        I do a lot of things with balsamic vinegar/honey glaze. It is great on peach salads with blueberries during the summer and good on ice cream.

    12. Samwise*

      Tarte tatin, only use pears in place of the apples.

      Poached pears — the little Seckel or Forelle pears are just the right size for a serving. With creme fraiche if you can get it, otherwise sourcream or whipped cream, and crispy ginger cookies. Excellent recipe in Ottolenghi and Tamimi, Jerusalem cookbook. You can find it online– google: Ottolenghi poached pears bonappetit

      1. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

        The first time I tried pears instead of apples in a tarte tatin was a revelation! Mmm I think I need to make another one soon. If you’re game you can also use stone fruit, apricots are insanely delicious.

    13. Artemesia*

      I love the idea of cranberry curd pie and will ry it this Christmas. I am doing a lemon meringue pie which is very 60s but you don’t see so much anymore. I love Tarte Citron in France and this especially if you make it a little less sweet than US recipes is similar.

      A few years ago I was invited to my daughter’s in-laws for Thanksgiving and I didn’t want to bring pumpkin since I was sure someone else would be doing it and didn’t want to step on their offering (plus my pumpkin pie is much better than 80% of those I have had at holidays). So I brought lemon meringue and it was absolutely the first to be sucked up when the pies came out. So I have been making it ever since.

      1. Artemesia*

        I lied. After reading this thread I have decided to make a grand marnier souffle instead of the lemon pie. We are only going to be six at the table as my daughter’s family are traveling to the in-laws. Haven’t made one before so I do have backup pumpkin ice cream in the freezer.

        1. Lpuk*

          I made a grand mariner soufflé and put brandied cherries in the bottom. Delicious. Also, my favourite restaurant which didn’t survive Covid, used to paint the inside of the soufflé dish with dark chocolate before adding the soufflé mixture and baking

    14. Jennifer Strange*

      I’m making tiramisu for my husband’s family! It’s his grandma’s favorite dessert (and my favorite too!)

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        To add, my previous contributions have been bread pudding (with bourbon sauce) and a really simple (but delicious!) cinnamon cake.

        1. Artemesia*

          A plus for bread pudding is that it is absolutely the best first cooking project with toddlers. they love tearing up the bread, sprinkling in the raisins and breaking the eggs and mixing them up. I have made bread pudding with all of mine when they were small. Baked apples is another one toddlers love to do — putting raisins, the nuts, the brown sugar into the core holes.

        2. Lpuk*

          Had a delicious bread and butter pudding variant with brioche, peaches raspberries and small chunks of marzipan and a custard with peach liqueur and Prosecco for my birthday meal which was insanely good – we all had seconds

    15. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      This year I am making a boozy bananas foster cream pie with RumChata whipped cream. I’m swapping out the raw banana layer for bananas foster, adding banana liqueur to the filling, and picking the whipped cream with RumChata.

    16. Chauncy Gardener*

      Apple fritter cake, recipe from King Arthur Flour
      It is just like those apple fritter doughnuts. *heaven*

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        That looks delicious! I am marking it to make this winter. I am making their cinnamon bun apple pie.

          1. Damn it, Hardison!*

            Instead of the usual top crust on the pie, you roll out the dough into a rectangle, spread with a little softened butter, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Roll into a log, chill, and then cut into slices (like you would for cinnamon rolls). Please the rounds in a circle touching, then gently roll out into a circle so that the slices stick together and form a top crust. It’s a bit fickle to get the slices rolled out, transferred to the top of the pie, and crimped with the bottoms crust, but it’s worth it!

    17. Bunny Girl*

      I just made an almond pastry that went over really well and it’s easy as pie. Plus it can be either a breakfast thing or a dessert.

      You take two sheets of puff pastry and sandwich the filling between it, sprinkle on some almonds, bake at 375 for about 20-25 minutes then glaze when cool.

      4 oz cream cheese softened
      7 oz marzipane
      1/2 cup powdered sugar
      Cream together

      1 cup powdered sugar
      1 TBS milk
      1 tsp vanilla
      Mix and drizzle

    18. Comment Period Has Closed*

      My favorite dessert for fall/winter is a pear-cranberry crumble with gingersnap topping (smitten kitchen).

      I’m about to try my hands at a pumpkin spice ice box cake.

    19. Minimal Pear*

      I’m going to make mini vegan pumpkin flans in the morning and let them cool, then a pomegranate and blueberry galette. I’m going to improvise recipes a little but I got both ideas from TikTok–the main thing it’s useful for, in my book!

    20. Girasol*

      I’ve been making ice box cakes. Grahams or ginger snaps with some pumpkin filling and whipped cream for Thanksgiving, a Yule log made of chocolate wafers and coffee-flavored whipped cream for solstice day.

    21. PhyllisB*

      Years ago I had an aunt who made chocolate pie and added coconut and raisins to the filling. Whipped cream to top it. It sounds odd, and I’ve never heard of anyone else doing this, but it’s very good. You can’t really taste the coconut, but it adds something special to it. Three things to remember if you try it : use finely shredded coconut and don’t add too much (same with the raisins, easy does it!!) Also use a regular pie crust. Graham cracker will make it too sweet. I used to make these a lot, and always got rave reviews.

    22. PhyllisB*

      Your mention of Kraft cheese reminded me of a snack my mother-in-law said she used to make for her kids. Put soda crackers on a baking sheet and and put squares of Kraft singles on them. Top with marshmallows and run under the broiler until marshmallows are toasted on top. I thought that was the oddest thing I had ever heard. Didn’t tell her that, of course. She made some while we were there, and it’s…not bad. I think if I make them I would use cheddar, but I never did because my husband said he didn’t really care for them anymore.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        My mother used to sandwich jam between two saltiness, then dip it in leftover and slightly thinned pancake batter. She fried them in a little fat (margarine or shortening, I suppose), then sifted powdered sugar on them. Delicious! She called them Depression Cookies, something her mother made in the Great Depression.

        1. Brrrrr*

          OK, this sounds great to me! Though I’ve never had leftover pancake batter, guess I’ll just need to intentionally ration some out from a batch.

    23. RLC*

      Cranberry curd tart sounds marvelous! I’ve never heard of it – is it regional?
      In the Apple Hill fruit growing area east of Sacramento, California, shops sell a wild variety of pies this time of year and the cranberry apple has always been my favorite. More intense than apple but not too much so, and it combines two traditional holiday flavors in a generally crowd pleasing way.
      My aunt from Saskatchewan made butter tarts with raisins in them. Delicious but I sadly never got her recipe.
      Regarding apple pie with cheese, my grandpa (from Scottish community in Quebec) always had English extra-sharp cheddar with apple pie.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        I think cranberry curd tart has just gotten more popular recently! As far as I know it’s not regional. There’s a great New York Times recipe for it that I used a few years ago.

    24. Lcsa99*

      Aside from the usual chocolate mousse pie, this year we made gluten free cookies, and smores blondies with homemade marshmallow. Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me that leaving them out all night to let the marshmallow set also meant the chocolate got soft – so we now have chocolate fudge sauce on pretty much everything.

    25. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      My grandma’s chocolate mousse!

      Cream a lot of confectioner’s sugar into 4 oz butter. Separate 4 eggs, and put the whites aside. In a medium bowl, mix the egg yolks into the butter and sugar. Meanwhile, in a double boiler (or, like, in a pot that is on top of another pot that has boiling water in it) melt 4 oz semi-sweet Baker’s chocolate. Mix the melted chocolate into the egg yolks-butter-sugar. Add a tsp of rum and a tsp of vanilla extract (more of either/both to taste if you want) to the mixture.

      Sprinkle a pinch of cream of tartar over the egg whites and use a mixer to beat them until they form white peaks. Fold the beaten egg whites little by little into the yolks-butter-sugar-chocolate-vanilla-rum mixture. Refrigerate.

    26. EA in CA*

      My mom usually makes a Bavarian cheese tort. It’s like an oversize tart with either fruit or nut toppings and is light and less sweet than cheese cake.

  4. Phillippe II*

    This year I’m taking it simple and low work. The only thing I’m cooking from scratch is the bird, it’s sitting in brine in a cooler in the garage right now. All sides were bought at Costco.

    How about you?

    1. Ginger Baker*

      I’ve decided to go even simpler and lower-work: I am ordering a bunch of Chinese food to the office (better restaurant options) to take home tonight and reheat tomorrow, along with a selection of pies that are also purchased. I’m dealing with the first holiday post-parent-death and tired from ridiculous hours at work and just decided Nope. So. Any family members with complaints were informed they could feel free to cook or to otherwise enjoy takeout :) I plan to have an EXCELLENT lowkey day, followed by [sigh] a lot of house organizing and cleaning as I try to catch up.

    2. OtterB*

      My adult daughter who lives with us is on a low fodmap diet. I was thinking of not cooking this year but realized as I looked at restaurant and grocery takeout options that they all have lots of things she can’t eat. I’ve been ordering refrigerated meals for her and the company offered two Thanksgiving options, one with everything and one with just the sides. So the sides were delivered Tuesday. I have a turkey breast in the fridge and then just have to heat up the gluten-free stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans with almonds. Plus there’s cranberry-orange relish, a gluten-free pumpkin loaf, and some chocolate dipped macaroons. And the order form said it served four, but I think the 3 of us are going to get two full meals out of everything but the desserts, tomorrow and Saturday night with our standard Friday night pizza in between.

    3. PollyQ*

      I’m a guest, so I’m bringing a green bean salad which I haven’t made before; hopefully it’ll turn out OK. It isn’t really simpler than the hot beans I usually bring, but it’s a smaller crowd this year, so at least there’s less prep time. And there’s another get-together on Sat, for which I’m making a quiche. I’m using frozen pie crust, and the rest of the recipe looks pretty easy. Fingers crossed, I guess.

    4. Jessica Ganschen*

      Pretty much the same. We’re even taking it one step further and getting a rotisserie chicken instead of cooking it ourselves. I’m hopeful that next year I’ll have the time and energy to make mashed potatoes from scratch and my family’s crescent roll recipe, though!

    5. KatEnigma*

      My in-laws are well enough, at least as of now, to host. We are bringing the bird – It was taken out of the brine last night to dry- sitting in the bottom of the fridge, ready to go into the smoker no later than 5am.

    6. Rara Avis*

      Our guest list was down to one even before I caught my kid’s cold. So I think we’re going to cook bits and pieces of the already-bought elements over the next few days.

    7. Elenna*

      Normally I like making a big Thanksgiving meal, but I went relatively low-effort this year (Canadian, so it was about a month ago) because I was home alone and also recovering from the flu. There was no bird meat of any kind in the house, and I had no interest in either dragging myself to the store or exposing the rest of the store to my flu germs, so I had spaghetti bolognese, roasted potatoes and brussels sprouts, and apple crumble. Everything was delicious.
      The whole thing took maybe 75 minutes max. The bolognese sauce was already made so I just had to boil some spaghetti, and the veggies were just roughly cut up, tossed with spices/oil, and left in the oven for a while. Probably 45+ minutes of that time was just cutting apples for the apple crumble, because somehow I am still super slow at that despite how often I make apple crumble, but it’s my favourite dessert and I really wanted to have it. Plus I needed something to do while the potatoes were roasting.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Both of my grown kids are home, not sure when that will happen again. So at their request a traditional large meal built around a roast, though they were happy to sub prime rib for turkey. Daughter and husband are handling the stuffing on account of I hate stuffing.

      Last year we did dim sum, which was a nice change of pace. (Basically nothing about the traditional Thanksgiving spread excites me. It’s tepidly fine, which is not a reaction worth days of shopping and prep to produce.)

      My favorite Thanksgivings hands down, which happen about once a decade, are when we are traveling and I spend the morning outdoors doing stuff, and then in the evening there is food prepared by someone else, that I did not plan or shop for. Sigh. Bliss.

    9. MigraineMonth*

      I picked up a bug from my nephew, so my Friendsgiving has been postponed. I’m just planning on making some vegetarian dressing and eating apple pie.

    10. Bunny Girl*

      I bake on the side and I feel like I’m so busy this time of year that I have no energy by the time Thanksgiving rolls around so we are doing premade stuff.

    11. Lore*

      My partner has COVID so Thanksgiving is basically canceled. We weren’t doing much but we were going to be together. We don’t live together so now he’s alone at his place and I’m at mine with all the ingredients for everything except turkey. I guess I’m glad I didn’t get the turkey ahead of time?

    12. old curmudgeon*

      Well, by our standards, it’s pretty simple and low work. Others might not agree, I realize.

      Turkey (bought directly from the farmer who raised it, defrosting in the basement refrigerator)
      Sourdough bread dressing (bread bought, cut up and toasted dry last Saturday, onions and celery cut up this afternoon)
      Cornbread-sausage dressing (herb-onion cornbread baked on Sunday, cut up and toasted dry on Monday)
      Gingery cranberry-orange relish (cooked up on Monday evening, flavors blending in the fridge)
      Pumpkin pie and Dutch apple pie, both to be made this evening

      Elder kid and their spouse are bringing pumpkin bars. Younger kid is bringing oven-roasted potatoes (because apparently two types of dressing do not provide sufficient carbs).

      And since basically all the work other than putting the turkey and dressings in the oven will be done by the time I go to bed tonight, Thanksgiving will truly be simple and low-work, and I can focus on enjoying my family.

    13. Damn it, Hardison!*

      So far today I have broken down a turkey to make Bon Appetite’s Maple Butter Roast Turkey, made Smitten Kitchen’s green bean casserole (will add the onions on top just before baking), herb stuffing, cranberry sauce, and baked a pumpkin tart with gingersnap crust. The dough for Amish potato rolls is currently rising. Tomorrow I will bake an apple pie (King Arthur Baking cinnamon roll apple pie), roast the turkey, bake the sides and rolls, and make glazed carrots. I love cooking for Thanksgiving!

    14. Woah*

      Hanging out with my husband, eating whatever gets cooked. We all love Thanksgiving food here and coming off of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah, a special day (that I don’t have to put in for time off for!) where the only rule seems to be “eat lots of carbs” is good by me! Hanukkah is like 3 weeks after Thanksgiving this year and I often cook hundred of latkes and host several parties, and I’m leading a kindergarten class performance of “I’m a little latke” so Hanukkah is going to be unusually busy too!

    15. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      Ordered main, side, and dessert from Omaha Steaks and am just re-heating.

  5. heckofabecca*

    My mom always made a jello mold (well, 2 – one sugar-free and one regular) with cranberry jelly with fruit in it!

  6. at least 3 bees in a person suit*

    this is actually my first year not spending thanksgiving with either side of my family, after a big bigot blowout at easter lunch that is still making waves to this day. i’m not particularly upset about not having to spend the day in a high-volume and high-stress situation, though, and am actually quite looking forward to a quiet day at home.

    1. WellRed*

      I didn’t feel like going to my moms this year. I’m just…tired. Looking forward to quiet four day weekend.

      1. Anon this time*

        I was genuinely sick one Thanksgiving, and I still think of it as one of the best I’ve ever had. It’s not that I don’t love my family, immediate and extended. I’m just so worn out by this time of year, and holidays stress me out. Having a no-guilt, no-questions break from it was really nice.

    2. Velociraptor Attack*

      Solidarity for the quiet day at home.

      My family is back in my home state and my husband and his brother had a big falling out last Christmas so we’re just doing our own thing.

    3. Angular Hedgehog*

      The big bigot blowout sounds horrifying and I’m sorry you went through that, and yet… I still want to hear about it because I am a terrible terrible person. May you have a very relaxing holiday!

      1. at least 3 bees in a person suit*

        the short and not-too-sweet of it is a relative thinking police brutality is cool and funny and doubling down when some of us were like “hey, maybe this is not the time or place to discuss that.” most of the drama happened afterwards when one family member who likes to try to “keep the peace” got all heated at the ones who spoke out, because ~decorum. most recently, i got an “apology” note from the peacekeeper that boiled down to “i’m sorry that you mistakenly think that i did anything wrong in this situation.”

        so yeah, definitely not going to miss seeing the family for this holiday.

        1. Miss Fisher*

          It seems like a lot of families don’t really talk anymore after the last several years. My sister, who still talks to me, refuses to fly home because she has no need to see our family who is okay with abortion. She went really far right and we just know now what not to talk about because no one is changing anyone else’s mind.

          1. at least 3 bees in a person suit*

            yeah, i definitely don’t plan to change anyone’s mind, but unfortunately the only way to get past this, as i was told, was “well, he’s not going to change so…”

            like, yeah, no thanks, i’m not going to just sit there nicely while he talks about people like they’re animals who deserve the way that police treat them, so count me out.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              Yeah, there’s a difference between tolerating a person with awful beliefs and tolerating the person’s awful actions. STFU and sit down, Uncle Bill, and we can have a nice meal.

            2. But what to call me?*

              There’s definitely a difference between ‘we’ll never agree on this, so let’s just not talk about it’ for the sake of family harmony and ‘the most outspoken person in the group can say whatever they want and everyone else must keep quiet about it’ for the sake of family harmony.

              The first is often reasonable, especially for something short like a holiday dinner, but the second forces everyone else into signaling false agreement through silence, which is a terrible position to put people in.

    4. Ann Ominous*

      I am vicariously relieved on your behalf! First set of holidays I spent doing exactly what I want to do (instead of the dreaded expected family thing) were AMAZING. So much freedom.

      1. at least 3 bees in a person suit*

        oh, i bet. my plans are basically “eat food, play video games, stay in my room because the other two people that live with me are sick and i am going to play this like it’s a game of pandemic and i am madagascar, baby.”

      2. Miss Fisher*

        Last year I was alone at Christmas since my parents flew to my sisters and I couldn’t get off work. So many people are horrified when they find out I don’t have any place to go. We were never really present people anyone, so there isn’t a big point. I love being alone. I can watch what I want, no football is on etc.

        1. Elenna*

          I wrote above that I was alone for Thanksgiving this year (past tense because Canada), and then I spent a while overthinking whether it made me sound sad. But honestly it was fine! My family doesn’t do much for Thanksgiving anyways, I’m probably the most into it but mostly just because I normally like the excuse to cook a lot. This year I had no food plans because I expected to be super busy with studying for an actuarial exam and instead I was super busy with having the flu, so we probably would have done almost nothing to celebrate it even if my parents had been home.

    5. Turtle Dove*

      Good for you! Last year I stayed home and did nothing for the first time ever, and it was lovely. I was worn out from decades of either hosting or traveling every holiday (and sometimes visiting two families for two meals on Thanksgiving Day). My husband and one adult child understood and supported me, and that meant a lot. Tomorrow will be quiet too, although this time we’ll have a simple meal here at our house. Cooking and cleanup will be easy and shared. I’m so glad I made this big change. I’m enjoying Thanksgiving again.

    6. Mid*

      Interestingly, this is the first year in a very very long time I’m visiting family. I’m…mildly apprehensive but planning on some *legal adult gummies* so I can ignore the worst of it. There should be at least 3 fluffy dogs, which is very exciting.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Ooh, I’d pack a brush. I love brushing other people’s pets, since mine barely tolerate it.

    7. Joielle*

      Sorry to hear about the family blowout! Quiet Thanksgiving at home sounds nice though. We’re going to my in-laws with the whole family and I just don’t… want to. So many people, so much noise.

      1. Workerbee*

        Can you come down with a mysterious case of “I ate something that disagreed with me” and stay home?

    8. Eff Walsingham*

      I am probably always going to be nostalgic for Christmas 2020… “The Year We Had to Feed Ourselves”. I loved my YouTube recipe turkey. My husband chopped allll the vegetables. It was a good time.

      My husband’s family are warm and wonderful, and LOUD, and bad at planning / replanning / waiting til the last minute / winging it. They’re lovely, but I find them stressful. Maybe some year we’ll be snowed in? Or everyone else will take off for Aruba or something.

    9. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      Sometimes being estranged turns out to be a gift! Enjoy your low-stress day. : )

  7. Manders*

    Every so often, Thanksgiving and my birthday fall on the same day and this year is one of those years! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because of the food (OK, the general idea of giving thanks and being with friends and/or family is good too). In the last few years one of my friends has started making me a pumpkin pie from scratch for my birthday, and it is SO GOOD! So Happy Thanksgiving to y’all out there, however you are celebrating (or just happy Thursday to non-US people)!

    1. Sitting Pretty*

      Happy Birthday, fellow occasional Thanksgiving baby! Mine is the 28th and there was one epic, lovely year when Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, and my birthday all aligned. So much party! I hope you have a great time tomorrow :)

    2. at least 3 bees in a person suit*

      hey, you and my partner both! have a lovely birthday and enjoy some good food.

    3. Eff Walsingham*

      One of my very best friends’ birthday always falls on Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. She basically celebrates with a week-long festival, because of all the years in childhood when no one was free to come over due to family stuff. I don’t blame her at all! So Happy Birthday!

    4. MigraineMonth*

      I was born Nov 29th, which was the day after Thanksgiving that year. My mom went into labor in the middle of the potluck dinner.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      My birthday is the 25th :) I’m not a huge fan of Thanksgiving food and was a very picky child so I didn’t love the timing, but now it’s great that I rarely have to work on my birthday.

    6. CA Cupid*

      omg happy birthday, birthday twin!

      Thanksgiving is the best holiday to have your birthday fall on because there’s a built-in party and it’s not a gift-giving holiday so you don’t miss out on presents like Christmas babies do. When I was in school it almost always fell on a day off, since we got Wednesday-Friday off and of course weekends are already days off. Plus it doesn’t happen every year so it’s more fun when it does. (My mother’s is the day before Valentine’s day, yikes.)

    7. California Dreamin’*

      Hey, fellow Nov 24 baby! I was actually born Thanksgiving night (really the wee hours of the next morning)… my mom at almost nine months pregnant hosted Thanksgiving dinner, cooked it all from scratch, felt an irresistible urge to clean up the whole kitchen after her guests left, and then promptly went into labor. Nowadays I don’t much care if my birthday falls on or around Thanksgiving, but it fell on the holiday the year I turned

      1. California Dreamin’*

        … as I was saying, the year I turned 21 my birthday fell on Thanksgiving, and that was a bit of a bummer because it was a night for people to be home with their families and I couldn’t go out bar hopping like 21 year olds usually do!

      2. Manders*

        I was also born on Thanksgiving! But my 21st was on Tuesday night before Thanksgiving. I flew home, EXTREMELY hungover, the next day. My parents wanted to buy me a drink at dinner and I was not having any of that :)

    8. sswj*

      It’s my birthday too!

      I am alone this year and reveling in it. Husband is on a job several states away, and my family is small and very far away. I did get three invites for dinner, but I turned them down with many thanks and “I already have plans”.
      Yep, I plan on a quiet day alone with my animals, maybe paint my hallway, maybe ride my horse, maybe do some cleaning/organizing, maybe just nap, read, and drink tea all day. I have a couple of cornish hens to cook along with roasted veggies and cranberry sauce, and a good wine.
      Best T-day B-day ever! :D

      (I also work retail, so Fri is going to be a looooong day …)

  8. Jill*

    I’m wondering if anyone can help me unpack my Mom’s mindset about Thanksgiving and the holidays because it might help me during the upcoming Christmas holiday. My brother and I didn’t travel in this year (which involves a 9 hour drive for him and about 6 hours of flight/layover time for me, or getting up at 4am for the only direct), and my Mom doesn’t seem thrilled about it. Yet when I talk to her she goes between “We’re happy to keep it low-key and not do anything this year, it’s always sooo much *work* to do Thanksgiving” and “If you guys were coming in we’d do more, we’d really celebrate.”

    This is par for the course for her around holidays. I don’t live in the kind of family where the men sit around and drink beer during the holidays, my dad and grandpa always cook the meat, including cleanup for the roasting/grilling, and then we do all the dishes and cleanup without being prompted. A couple of years ago my mom was nearly in tears the night before Christmas but she wouldn’t let me do so much as mixing a dip together (it had four ingredients and I have an M.D.), and I overheard her telling my grandma how exhausted she was. But I honestly don’t know where this mindset comes from. None of us demand that she does as much as she does during the holidays but it’s like there’s something inside her that makes her go all-out. Then on the rare chance she doesn’t get to, she acts like she’s resentful of it.

    1. Thistle Pie*

      For some folks, stress is equivalent to importance. It may be that your mom likes getting worked up in a frenzy around holidays because it makes her feel important and it makes the holiday feel important. I imagine she’s missing her family but also without the stress of hosting (real or self-imposed) the holiday doesn’t feel important, and neither does she.

      Is she someone who likes to help? Is her love language Acts of Service? If so, could you ask her to help you with something from afar during the holiday season? Like help you plan your next trip to see them, or talk through a problem you’re having, or research something? Anything that will help her feel like she’s important?

      PS my partner calls this phenomenon of working yourself into a frenzy over hosting “The Connecticut vibes”

      1. at least 3 bees in a person suit*

        “the connecticut vibes” suddenly my childhood makes so much sense now, oh my gosh

      2. Bubbletea*

        Oh yes. Give me a high pressure, stressful situation that I UNDERSTAND and I am a machine. It slams the dopamine straight into the brain. (not cooking, I hate cooking and it turns into chaos and there’s always SOMEONE there to make a comment). But something let setting up stands at convention or arranging a schedule makes me genuinely feel quite gleeful.

        1. Just a name*

          “Connecticut is the fifth ring of hell”. Just quoting one of my favorite holiday movies, The Ref. A must watch every year for us.

          1. WellRed*

            Unrelated sort of: I’m in Maine and there was a Dunkin commercial a few years ago. Actors auditioning needed to speak with a New England accent and the director references Connecticut. The response is “whats Connecticut?” Which I found hilarious.

    2. Alpaca Bag*

      When mine did that, I believe she just wanted to be appreciated. She was really good at feeding us and wanted a chance to show her love that way. If we turned down some of her efforts, it was like saying we didn’t need her skills, and what was important to her didn’t matter as much to us. Luckily, we got to talk about it before it was too late. Not sure if this might apply to your family or not…

    3. Panicked*

      It’s the martyr mindset. There’s nothing you can do. I struggle with this myself- I want to control everything. Even if it’s a ton of work, even if it makes me want to pull my hair out, I have to do it myself. It’s a mix of wanting everyone to look at me and think “wow, she did so much! She’s amazing!” and wanting to know that it’s done exactly to my own specifications.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Yes. My mother who is otherwise lovely to the point that people think I am lying when I tell them holiday related stories does this, but only on select holidays. And one Easter we decided to screw it and order food to prevent drama, and she still found a reason to have a fit. I honestly don’t even remember why, all I remember is people saying “oh ok guess we’re going to leave and then she cried people were leaving.” This is from someone who is not manipulative at all, so everyone was confused about what was going on.

      2. londonedit*

        Yes, my mum is like this and I definitely see similar tendencies in myself. Even though there are three grown adult women in the house at Christmas who are all more than competent at cooking and who have all mucked in to make the Christmas cooking enjoyable (with a glass or three of fizz) for at least 15 years now, plus two grown adult men who are more than happy to keep the drinks flowing and chop the veg and do any other kitchen prep jobs that need doing, and even though we only have a small family gathering, every year my mum will do the whole ‘Oh my goodness it’s all just SO stressful’ thing, running around like a headless chicken getting herself into a flap about something that decidedly doesn’t need flapping about. She used to do Christmas dinner for 15 people when my sister and I were children and too little to help, and I think she secretly got a thrill out of the whole ‘I’ve been in the kitchen all morning, look at what I’ve done, I’m so frazzled’ thing, so she carries on with that mindset even though that’s not what our Christmas looks like anymore. The last few years I’ve ended up being left pretty much on my own to do various parts of the Christmas Day cooking, because my small nephew demands everyone’s attention and I’m the only one who can reliably be absent for half an hour or so to get the food in the oven, and I’ve definitely found myself suddenly snapping at people because I’m ‘SO BUSY AND DOING THIS ALL BY MYSELF’. Which I then instantly feel awful about, because I’m totally perpetuating my mum’s Christmas martyr attitude! It’s something I’m really planning to keep an eye on myself with this year. There is no need to be a martyr over the roast potatoes.

    4. Anony for reasons*

      My mom has this *thing* about Christmas that sounds similar to your mom’s and it took me 30 years to parse it out. Somehow, she has this ideal scenario about how the holiday *should be*, and it is unbelievably hard for her to get it out of her head when circumstances change or when people don’t follow along. So something as simple as my uncle changing the channel to sports as opposed to the Christmas concert video she has planned in the 10 minutes before dinner is served will send her into a tizzy, even though she can neither see nor hear the TV during that time.

      I’m not sure where it comes from, but as a child it was hard to navigate this insistence on seemingly random things. As an adult, I sigh and remind myself that this doesn’t happen except at Christmas.

      1. Lydia*

        I feel like this is an ongoing thing, especially for women, who are told through advertising and all sorts of unspoken ways, that Holidays Should Look Like This. I know I struggle against it a little bit and in the past it has caused me all sorts of stress. I’m better now than I used to be, but it still feels like I’m missing something if it’s not cozy, or exactly like it looks like in TV shows.

      2. Westsidestory*

        It’s funny but I’ve always thought Thanksgiving was the easiest party to host! When I lived on the West Coast it was not unusual to have 15-20 people (the record was 34). Seriously the menu was easy: make the cranberry conserve the day before. Day of: put turkey in oven, get started on the mashed potatoes, throw some canned yams in a casserole and make a glorious fresh salad as big as needed (lettuce, spinach, mushrooms and seedless tangerine segments, plus a bottled walnut raspberry dressing.)Some good rolls and either bought pies or have someone bring them. Guests can bring stuff if they like (thank you cousin Greg for all those creative jello molds). How hard is this really? You’ve got a few hours to kill so peeling potatoes and slicing mushrooms, etc no biggie. I don’t get the drama about the food part. Yes you can be elaborate but this holiday truly does not demand it – it’s just supposed to be a friendly meal.

        I’ve always liked hosting thanksgiving mainly because then guests would reciprocate through the holidays into new year – as if they owed us for daring to mount the big turkey day.

        This year we are going to cousins in New Jersey and all I’ve been assigned is the vegan birthday cake. But I still got a 10-pound turkey and I will make it Friday with said sides. So we will have leftovers.

    5. Daisy*

      My mother was like that. She would exhaust herself to the point if a nervous breakdown the next day even if we tried to potluck the meal. My father would get up at 2 am to put the turkey in the oven, and she insisted on making everything else from scratch, multiple pies, many sides, big green salad, rolls, etc. The table would be set the night before with the good China that had to be hand washed.
      It was a revaluation when I got married and went to MIL house who bought a pre-cooked dinner from the supermarket and had a frozen pie out of a box for dessert. Easy, low stress, and the big event was not the meal but watching a movie on TV in the afternoon.
      I think it is some sort of homemade food=love thing that gets passed down in families combined with anxiety and overachieving personalities.
      When we moved out of state we stopped going to relatives over the holidays and instead visited for a couple of weeks in the summer. This was a better time of year for my mom and it allowed us to have a more laid back visit. Sibling still went up for the holidays tho, so it didn’t completely change.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        I am craving this sort of holiday. My family is going overboard yet again and I hate it because they get stressed out about stuff I do not care about. For example, there were loads of passive aggressive comments on Easter about how I didn’t bring anything. When I mentioned the fact that there was so much food that they were calling neighbors to unload it on, they switched it to it being a matter of principle. Like I should’ve brought something just to bring something even though it most likely would’ve gone uneaten.

        Then when it comes to Christmas I keep telling them not to buy stuff. I literally cannot house anymore plastic chachkis or whatever they feel they need to give out of obligation. Or I get loads of $25 gift cards I never use. People always say “what’s the big deal, just regift” but the point is, if I ask you seven hundred times not to do something and you do it anyway, where is the relationship? Do you hear me speaking? Are these just one way relationships where my input doesn’t matter? I just redid my kitchen and holy hell, the waste of all of this crap people give that I have no room to store but it isn’t nice enough to donate…seriously, I can’t take anymore into my home.

        Having these sort of petty arguments on holidays really wants me to quit doing them with families.

        1. IsbenTakesTea*

          “Where is the relationship?” just hit me in the gut.

          What a succinct way of putting that frustration. I feel your pain, Prospect! I wish you more peaceful holidays in the future.

        2. Glomarization, Esq.*

          I should’ve brought something just to bring something even though it most likely would’ve gone uneaten.

          I mean, yep. IMO you should have brought something just to bring. Then you could share or take the leftovers home or, you know, just have them tossed. If everybody else thinks it’s important to bring something, then why not just bring something as a gesture of friendliness and acknowledgment of how everybody else feels about the event?

          where is the relationship … petty arguments

          They are trying to keep the relationship going by giving you a gift. It neither picks your pocket nor breaks your leg to take the gift and re-gift it. They are clearly not hearing “the best gift to Prospect Gone Bad is not to give a gift at all,” which is disappointing but if you can move yourself away from anger about getting these gifts, I think you’d find this relationship easier for you.

          And it takes two people to argue. Seriously, just re-gift. Somebody who wants to give a gift is going to give a gift. The gift that you can give is to receive the gift with grace, letting the person feel what they want to feel for having done what they really wanted to do, which was give a gift.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Ah, the tradition of putting the turkey in the oven at 2 am! My mom always did that, as did my sisters since they learned from my mom. There’s a large age gap between me and my sisters, so I wasn’t learning to cook at the same time they were; therefore, a lot of what I learned was from cooking shows or reading information online. When I had my first Thanksgiving after I got married, my mom and sisters were practically horrified to find out I hadn’t gotten up before the crack of dawn to put the turkey in the oven. There was no way I was going to get up in the middle of the night to start cooking a turkey. I followed cooking time and temperature recommendations I found online and the turkey came out great. I honestly don’t think the 2 am turkey tasted any better than mine. In fact, I’d say mine had more moisture in the breast meat.

    6. PollyQ*

      My mom has some of this, although it’s not so bad that she won’t accept help. I think it’s partly a gender/generational issue — this is what a woman is “supposed” to be/do, and even an explicitly feminist, “career woman” like my mom has trouble letting go of the sense of obligation to an ideal.

    7. Tired SW*

      That’s such a difficult dynamic, I’m sorry you have to deal with such a stressful, no-win”attitude from your mom. A lot of my friends’ moms growing up displayed a similar approach to life. In college I learned about the concept of unmitigated communion, which really resonated with me. Unmitigated communion is essentially a way of defining the self based on the caretaking one provides to others.

      1. Tired SW*

        Unmitigated communion is typically considered to be closely correlated with feminine coded traits in our society ex. Selflessness

    8. Ann Ominous*

      One theory:

      She may have a strong inner critic that has internalized that This Is The Right Way To Do Things (and is the way to get approval/love/belonging).

      She hates it, but when she dares to not do it, the voice gets louder. The voice does have positive intent (to keep her from rejection/whatever is the opposite of love and belonging and approval, or whatever it’s seeking). It’s like that Japanese escaped POW who didn’t believe WWII was over and stayed acting as if the war was still going on, hiding in the jungle for several decades after it ended. You have to have respect for this guy’s full commitment to doing what he thought was necessary; no matter the cost to himself.

      Inner protectors are the same way. They believe that the consequences for not doing The Thing They Do are so dire, and unbearable. Many hate their jobs! But don’t see other realistic options.

      One therapeutic approach that I LOVE to this involves getting to know this protector’s purpose, what it’s afraid would happen if it stopped being so critical (which is key to finding out what it’s protecting her from, such as rejection/disapproval).

      People learn these things in all kinds of ways. What was her upbringing like? With the help of a therapist or trained facilitator, she’d get permission from that inner protector to imagine going back in time in her mind to that part of her that was wounded and learned that harsh internal criticism and performance was the only way to be accepted, and witness it, do a ‘do-over’ where you imagine something different happening, retrieve that part of her and bring her to wherever she wants to be instead, unburden whatever she’s carrying and let her reclaim whatever lost qualities she wishes to have.

      Then you go back and show the original protector (inner critic) that the wounded part is healed and ask it if it would like a different job, and visualize doing that. A lot of people’s inner critics become inner champions instead, or boundary enforcers, or mentors, or just instead retire and live at the beach or something.

      There’s good science behind using this type of imagery as a user interface to your emotional states. You still have the original memories but they are no longer emotionally charged. It’s called Internal Family Systems and I love it!

      1. Chevron*

        This is the best explanation of internal family systems I’ve ever heard, thank you! I’ve read about it before but never quite got what it was all about.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        Wow. That is such a super explanation of the situation and what a great way to heal!
        I am copying this for future reference
        Thank you!!

      3. almost minted academic*

        Wow! Maybe my stepmother finally did this. I know her first marriage was so, so, so awful and she was trying so, so hard to show that everything was going to be wonderful as she joined my family (of adult children still wrestling with our own trauma) that she’d cook and bake for days and days so everything could be Just Perfect. From Halloween to New Year’s practically. Finally my dad got through to her that we wanted to spend time with her, not her food, and now basically they order almost everything from the local (truly, highly excellent) BBQ place and have us bring the sides we really want that aren’t available through that place. It’s actually quite wonderful? I think the big transition that did the most good for all the parents was when the various kids started establishing our own traditions and took over the holidays, though. And now that I’m finally finishing school this semester for good except to work for a school, I am hopeful everyone can let go of the parent/child dynamics for good.

    9. Just a name*

      For me, hosting anything makes me anxious. Even though everything is well planned and the Mr. does a lot, I can work myself into a tizzy for no real reason. I don’t sleep the night before because my mind is spinning with everything I need to do. So, technically, it is exhausting. :). I have a few coping mechanisms that I deploy and it always turns out just fine, but I’ve been that way forever.

    10. ThatGirl*

      My MIL is kind of like this, she lets people help but wants things done “her” way and if I want to make something my own I often get resistance. She hates cooking and isn’t much of a foodie but feels she has to be the perfect host and is resistant to others cooking. She cannot relax until everything is spotless. Not one stray water glass on the counter. So much undiagnosed anxiety in that family…

    11. Joielle*

      My mom is the same! She and I don’t have a great relationship, although we’re still in contact. We’re not going to their house for Thanksgiving this year (it’s our year with my husband’s family) and even though we alternate years and she has always known this was not her year, she was still upset and disappointed that we wouldn’t be there. But when we are there, it’s just a stressful time – she hates cooking, but for some reason she picks out a bunch of weird recipes she’s never tried before to make for a house full of people for the first time. Every year, the same drama. It’s exhausting.

      I think part of it is that her sister (my aunt) and I both love to cook and are good at it, so other family gatherings usually have fancier food. But it’s a hobby to me and my aunt and something we’re doing for fun. I think she feels pressure to keep up, even though nobody expects or wants that. Also, she’s always been a martyr about stuff like this. I think part of her likes being stressed out and having people reassure her and give her attention.

    12. Qwerty*

      Sounds like your mom associates going all out with her fulfilling her role in the holidays. The dip story indicates maybe she views you as a guest during the holidays, rather than an adult child / extra set of hands.

      Good holidays -> Everybody was there, lots of enjoyment, but your mom stresses like crazy. Major stress followed by endorphins = addiction to cycle.

      Bad holidays -> Less people, less fun, less stress. Your mom is sad that her children aren’t with her, subconciously wonders if the quality of the holiday is why the kids didn’t come home.

      I think the mindset is a leftover from old school norms. I’ve heard a lot of women who stress about their holiday meal for 10 talk about how their mothers/grandmothers used to prepare meals for 20+ people with less help.

      The best way I’ve found to knock someone out of the mindset is if you can engineer some really fun low stress holidays in order to break that association they have between stress and a good holiday.

      – Can you or your brother occasionally host a holiday? Literally take the reins away from her. This worked really well for my mom – we had a easy holiday that was just my parents and siblings. My mom got stuck on the other side of trying to be helpful but being turned away. Plus we all realized that part of her stress was not from the holiday, but from the other family members we usually celebrated with.

      – Make the requests for a low key celebration about YOU. If you tell your mom to pare it down because its too hard on her, what she’ll hear is that she’s failed at the holiday. Make it about how you want to be more involved with the holiday or something.

      – Is kicking her out of the kitchen one holiday an option? My mom used to cook all the holiday meals at my grandma’s house after a certain point. For a couple holidays, my sole job was to be the bodyguard preventing my grandma from entering the kitchen. She stressed the first couple times but realized how nice it was.

      – How attached is your family to the traditional meal? I’m a huge advocate to changing the meal to what you actually want. We do salmon for Easter because its easy and none of us actually like ham. Most holidays are appetizers so no one is stuck in the kitchen all day plus a lot of it can be done ahead of time.

      1. Teapot Wrangler*

        A little off topic (sorry) but is ham at Easter a traditional thing in the US? In the UK, very few people make a big thing out of Easter but the main meat would be lamb – I guess it has springtime vibes??

        1. fhqwhgads*

          My understanding is it was originally due to curing the meat from the fall and using it up right before spring, but I’m a Jewish vegetarian so…

    13. Educator*

      When my last sibling finished grad school, we had a family holiday summit where we discussed what the major holidays would look like now that we were all adults and no longer had school breaks. I have a food-is-love parent, so we wanted to make sure they did not feel rejected by the new realities of our adult lives, and we all wanted to manage some Christmas traditions that made more sense for children than adults. We also started having partners in the mix. So it was a good time for a formal reset.

      At the summit, we all shared what holidays and traditions were important to us, which ones we felt ready to move on from, and what our logistical constraints were. The result was a refined holiday plan that worked for everyone. For example, none of us travel to my family for Thanksgiving—that has become a friends/partners holiday—but we do a manageable Christmas event where the work is shared.

      If you have not explicitly talked about holidays in a global way, I cannot recommend it enough. That two-hour meeting—we did it over brunch!— has eliminated so much stress from my adult life!

    14. RagingADHD*

      She is disappointed, and trying not to burden you with it. So she’s trying to talk herself into the idea that it will be nice to have a “break.”

      It can be very hard for moms to feel like they are unequivocally doing a good job. Concrete stuff like making food, decorating, throwing parties is a lot of work but it also has visible results that you can say, “Yes, I did that well. I made things nice for my people.” It’s satisfying. It can give you confidence and a feeling of accomplishment.

      Stuff like giving your kids space, supporting and validating them, maintaining a good relationship, are fuzzy. It can be hard to tell if you should be saying more or saying less, or saying something different.

      She isn’t doing the concrete / accomplishment stuff, plus she has to manage her feelings in a way that doesn’t come across like a guilt trip. And she can’t really know if she’s doing it right. If she were doing it really, really wrong it would blow up in a fight. But anything less than that is just…maybe its okay?

      It’s a wierd headspace to be in.

    15. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Besides all the lovely advice folks have given you about why your mother might actually want a stressful Thanksgiving, I suspect she is trying to avoid guilt tripping you about you not coming.

    16. Overeducated*

      I fall into this pattern specifically with hosting my family of origin, and I think I’ve internalized from *my* mom that my job is to Make Everyone Happy, come up with a menu that satisfies all dietary restrictions *and preferences* (which change frequently), and if anything is disappointing or anyone is uncomfortable in my small house with my limited menu then it’s MY fault because I was in charge of planning. I want them to visit! It just feels like a lot of pressure and decisions! But it’s hard to get out of that headspace because I’ll ask people for opinions and they’ll say “oh, I don’t care.” Because then it’s STILL ALL UP TO ME.

      1. Overeducated*

        Also PS they will say things like “let’s just do takeout so you don’t have to stress over food,” but I can’t afford that for 10 people. It’s not a control thing when I say no, it’s embarrassing to say that outright or comes off like I’m asking them to pay. So careful with that suggestion….

  9. Alpaca Bag*

    Here’s a shout out to everybody who lost someone important and is struggling with the idea of not having them at the table this year. May we all have at least a little bit of joy and not feel guilty about it.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Thanks, you too. <3 About to arrive at my parents' house to help Mom get ready for the first thanksgiving without Nana. It's also Mom's birthday in a couple days so a double whammy. In some ways the hardest part is navigating the collective feelings, if she's feeling happy I won't want to bring her down, but if she's sad I don't want her to put on a brave face for the rest of us!

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I don’t worry too much about bringing others down. I’d rather express feelings of grief together, and then move forward together to sharing happier memories of the deceased.

    2. Sarra N. Dipity*

      Thank you. This is going to be the first holiday season without a dear, dear friend that we lost in August (who was always invited to family festivities).

      1. Kiki is the Most*

        Thinking of you @filosofickle.
        Mom passed a long time ago. And of course, is still desperately missed. I hope that this time of grief passes quickly for you, and that you are surrounded by loved ones.

    3. Annie Edison*

      Thank you! My mom passed away in February. Over the summer I moved in with my boyfriend and his kids- this holiday season is a very weird mix of grief and new beginnings all at once

    4. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      And a shout out to all those who have sick or hurt family members (as the well as to the folks going through that themselves) this holiday. Just do the best you can to be kind to yourself and your loved one, even if the holiday is nothing like ideal this year.

  10. PassThePeasPlease*

    Anyone have an apple pie recipe that they recommend? The one we’ve used for…years… just isn’t cutting it anymore and is specifically too dry. Looking for ways to add liquid to the filling that won’t make it too runny/evaporate out when cooking. So far I’ve found a couple recipes that I can cobble together to make something that will hopefully work but curious if anyone has anything tried and tested.

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      Do you start with fresh apples? If so, try cutting whatever thickener you use (like corn starch) in half. I have the opposite problem, my pies are always borderline soupy! I’ll look at finding a specific recipe to either link or type out below, I’m on a bit of a road trip at the moment.

        1. Panicked*

          Not all apples are good pie apples. Use a mix of a couple to vary the flavor and make everything a bit more cohesive. Granny smith, braeburn, and golden delicious are my go-to, but I vastly prefer northern spies (I just can’t find them in my area).

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            Can you get cooking apples in America? Bramley apples are good because they hold their shape when being baked, but you do need to add sugar.

            1. Alison*

              We don’t have Bramleys here. I live in apple country and I love to mix up the apples. Smokehouse are really good but also early. Granny Smith are quite tart. York and Nittany apples are 2 very good local varieties.

              1. Dicey Tillerman*

                York and Nittany apples–Pennsylvania or thereabouts? I used to see them at my Maryland farmers markets…can’t find them now that I’ve moved back to New England, though.

          2. Aspiring+Chicken+Lady*

            OH MY GOD! NORTHERN SPIES ARE THE BEST! Fewer and fewer of my orchards still grow them.

            And a mix of hard and soft apples turn into their own blended perfection.

        2. Lizzo*

          Try a different apple type, and use a variety of apples, maybe?
          Also, not sure where you live, but honeycrisps are ridiculously expensive here, and putting them in a pie seems…wasteful? But maybe that’s just me. :-)

          1. Lenniesmom*

            Use a couple of different apple varieties. For thickener I stopped using corn starch and have been using the tiny bead instant tapioca

          2. CA Cupid*

            My mother always does two kinds – one firm and tart (ie the kind often recommended for baking) and one softer and sweeter. The mix makes a best of both worlds result.

        3. Constance Lloyd*

          2 1/2 pounds apples (approx. 5 apples, peeled and sliced)
          2/3 cup sugar (brown, white, or both)
          2 tbsp flour
          1 tsp cinnamon
          3 tbsp butter

          I also use honeycrisp every year, though as others have mentioned Granny Smith also works well! Toss apples through cinnamon together, fill crust, dot with butter.

          1. Clisby*

            Same, except I’d cut the sugar to 1/4 cup. I don’t like overly sweet desserts, and apples are plenty sweet by themselves.

    2. Samwise*

      Jacques Pepin, Tarte Tatin. It’s an “upside down” pie. The pastry is pate brisee which is very forgiving. If you’re not into making the pastry, buy a frozen premade crust.

    3. Brunch Enthusiast*

      If it’s not too far removed from your typical recipe you could try tarte tatin. It’s apples baked in caramel with a pastry lid on top, then to serve you invert the whole thing so that the lid becomes the base.

    4. KatEnigma*

      I’ve used mainly honey crisps + I like a mix too, but that’s the main apple that was ripe every year when we went to the pick your own place early in the season before the place was soooo crowded.

      Which… Honey Crisps are a late August/early September apple. So they aren’t terribly “fresh” in late November. Few apples are. I always pick when ripe and freeze.

      Carla Hall has a recipe where she sautees the apples and then adds them to the crust. You can control for both too dry or too wet that way. It also allows you to fill the crust and not get shrinkage under it when the apples cook.

      1. The Editor in Chief*

        Unless you pick them yourself (or buy a bushel from the orchard/packer), *no* apples are fresh… this year’s crop goes into cold storage. Last year’s crop is still trickling *out* of cold storage.

        The things you learn in Washington apple country.

    5. Katy*

      Here’s the recipe my family always uses: take granny smith apples and slice them thin, then layer them directly into the pie crust. Once you have a full layer and can’t see any crust, cover it with a heavy sprinkling of brown sugar and cinnamon. Repeat the layering process until the apples are mounded high, then cover with a lattice crust. Sprinkle the crust with a mixture of white sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes and then lower to 350 and bake for about another hour or till it seems to be done. No, there is no thickener other than the sugar and the natural pectin in the fruit. Yes, you will have a soggy bottom. You probably won’t care because it will be juicy and taste delicious and Granny Smiths have a ton of flavor when baked.

    6. old curmudgeon*

      I really think it’s all in the apples you choose. I love using Granny Smith apples for pies because they’re sturdy enough to hold their shape through being cooked, and they do give off plenty of juice. I also like the fact that the tartness of the apples offsets the sweetness of the sugar, especially when I use a Dutch apple topping.

      My go-to apple pie recipe is:

      6 – 8 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
      2 Tbsp. flour
      3/4 cup sugar
      Pinch of salt
      3/4 tsp cinnamon
      1/2 tsp nutmeg
      1/4 tsp ground cloves
      1 unbaked pie shell

      Combine all the filling ingredients in a large bowl first, and let them sit in the bowl while you roll out the pie crust. The sugar will draw out the juice from the apples, which will make your pie juicier, while the flour will serve to thicken it up a bit as it cooks.

      I top that with a Dutch-apple topping, although you could just put a top pie crust on, brush with a beaten egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. My Dutch apple topping is:

      1/3 cup flour
      1/2 cup firm-packed brown sugar
      1/2 tsp cinnamon
      1/4 to 1/3 cup butter

      Cut together and spread over the apples, bake at 400° for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350° for another 40 to 60 minutes, until you can see the juices bubbling around the edges.

    7. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I’ve used the apple pie recipe from King Arthur Baking and really liked it. There is also a more involved recipe on their blog for cinnamon roll apple pie that is fun to make and eat.

    8. SemiAnon*

      I don’t have a recipe to hand, but there was one I’ve done that has heavy cream along with the butter and thickener and apples. It was moist and rich and almost custard like. I think it may be known as German apple pie.

  11. YOLO*

    My Thanksgiving tradition is dessert for breakfast. Started it with my husband and continuing with our 2 children. Typically it has been pumpkin pie and/or apple skillet pie and/or apple crisp, but this year it will be a little different. We’re doing creme brulee for breakfast tomorrow. My husband wanted a little more food, so we’ll add some Pillsbury croissants out of a can. I’m very much looking forward to it! We used to do mimosas too, but I’m not young enough to handle drinking all day the way I used to. So we’ll wait until 11am to break out the wine.

  12. Your Oxford Comma*

    Our son and his GF are ordering an entire meal from a popular restaurant at his he worked, and we’re bringing homemade hummus & crudités. It’s the first time ever that we aren’t cooking it all ourselves. I’m actually anticipating the extra time to enjoy the family without the distraction of cooking.

  13. Melanie Cavill*

    I’m going to be spending Christmas alone this year. Any suggestions on how to have a lovely day solo?

    1. Lily of the Valley*

      Jewish Christmas: Movie + Chinese food (my go to)

      Japanese Christmas: KFC + a Christmas cake (might do this this year, will probably also rent/go to a movie)

        1. Westsidestory*

          Yeah literally! One year my brother in law forgot to take the ham out of the freezer…he was mortified! So we all wound up at a Chinese restaurant and had a wonderful, relaxing meal and no one had to wash “the good crystal” afterwards. The restaurant was full of families and my sister in law had to really make it work so they would fit in 8 people as a last-minute with no prior reservation. But it worked so well we just did dinner at the same restaurant the next year too!

      1. Lily of the Valley*

        Seconded. I do this leading up to Christmas, so more of a Christmas season tradition than a Christmas Day tradition.

      2. Chocolate Teapot*

        I had the past 2 Christmases on my own, due to the pandemic, so it was roast turkey with all the trimmings, followed by Netflix.

      3. ICodeForFood*

        Yes, this ^. If you’re someone who likes to read, make sure you have something that you’ll want to read. If you enjoy jigsaw puzzles, set up to do one. Just plan to do something you really enjoy.

        1. Princess Deviant*

          Yes! I’m trying to eke out my Shadowhunter The Last Hours books 1 and 2 (it’ll never work haha) because the 3rd and final instalment isn’t released until January 2023 :(
          But I have loads of other stuff I can read so I think I’m good.

    2. Critical Rolls*

      Figure out what makes you happy from your holiday traditions and adapt them as needed. If you love unwrapping presents, make sure you’ve got a stack in pretty paper. If Christmas means a specific food, plan how to make it happen for yourself, especially if it’s not something you want to cook. And have a general sense of how you want to spend your day to avoid being at loose ends at 2 in the afternoon.

    3. TheActualA*

      The last holiday I had to do alone I practiced a lot of intention about the choices I made including the holiday foods and traditions I wanted to do and specifically picked what I knew would bring some joy. I tried doing the heavy duty prep ahead of time so the day of didn’t feel like it was too many chores. I don’t know if you have pets but I also did things for the cats and that was fun.

      It’s great that you’re planning ahead of time! That ended up being key for me. Don’t let being alone stop you from some of the things you might normally do. Like if you’re a dress up for Christmas person, put on something that makes you feel fabulous. If you’re a pjs on Christmas person, maybe you could treat yourself to a comfy pair of new pjs. Sometimes it’s also fun to figure out how to do things in miniature so you could get a very tiny Christmas tree.

    4. LabTechNoMore*

      Christmas cookies, hot cocoa, and a steady stream of good TV. Most importantly, make your own traditions.

    5. cleo*

      For me, planning ahead of time helps, both to have an answer when people ask about holiday plans and also because I find it more restful to not have to make a lot of decisions on my day off. And also, lots of things will be closed.

      A couple thoughts –

      Choose a mood and plan a few things that fit that mood. Like for a cozy Christmas, your favorite warm beverage and cozy blanket to snuggle under while watching a movie.

      Ahead of time, stock up on reading material / puzzles / favorite snacks / whatever you think you’ll want to do and / or eat.

      Think about which traditions you want to keep (playing favorite Christmas music) and if there are any new traditions you want to start.

    6. Irish Teacher*

      If you have any friends who are also going to be alone, you could do an online Christmas. A group of people on a message board I was a member of (back when those were a thing) did that one year when some of them were spending Christmas alone and some were teens/young adults who were either being forced to spend Christmas with relatives they disliked or just thought Christmas online was cooler than spending the day with mum and dad.

      1. 867-5309*

        This is a good idea.

        Also, if you’re comfortable and WANT to share Christmas with people (versus opting out for your own reasons), I’ve always invited people to come to my family Christmases or suggested we get together.

    7. 867-5309*

      Melanie, I’ve been where you are. For me it was heart wrenching.

      I opted to go for a winter hike, stock up on my favorite (non holiday) foods and looked for opportunities to volunteer. I did not do anything “holiday related” because it would just make me sad, including watching movies, etc.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Buy a really good 1-2 serving dessert from a bakery.

      If weather allows, getting outdoors in the sunshine can be really reviving.

      Plan a cozy thing you will enjoy–rereading a favorite book or watching a favorite movie.

    9. Joielle*

      More of a Christmas *season* activity, but a friend of mine used to do this and I loved the idea – she would buy herself little gifts throughout the year and wrap them and put them in a big bag, and then in December she would give herself one gift every day leading up to the holiday. By then she had forgotten what she bought and how it was wrapped, so it was a bunch of little fun surprises. I thought that was such a cute way to show yourself love at the holidays!

    10. Aisling*

      I’ve done a couple solo, and they can be lovely. I start with a special breakfast- typically store bought cinnamon rolls I never usually get- and then I make a charcuterie board of expensive olives, cheese and salami I also never usually buy that I snack on throughout the day while watching comfort tv/movies. It’s low prep but still feels special to me.

    11. SarahKay*

      Don’t let anyone (yourself included) make you feel like there are things you must do.
      If you want to make it a special day then go for it, and pick out what you can do that would make it special for you – pile of gifts? Mimosas for breakfast? Cake all day? Traditional lunch (and if so, do you want to cook from scratch, or just buy easy versions of it all)? Dress up in best clothes? Wear pyjamas all day? Do those things.
      If you want to ignore it completely and treat it like any other day then go for that too.

      I’ve had few Christmasses on my own and in my experience the main thing is to be definite that you’re having the ideal (or as ideal as possible if you’d have preferred not to be alone) day for you.
      That way you have a nice day, and also when concerned friends and relatives enquire, because people do tend to worry that ‘no-one should spend Christmas alone’ it puts their minds at rest.
      For instance two years ago Covid lockdowns meant I was on my own despite hopeful plans earlier in the month. It was such a nice sunny day I ditched making lunch and went and planted my spring bulbs in the garden. (UK, so still late planting, but they all flowered, even if a little later than normal.) Assorted family called me at various points to wish me Merry Christmas and check I was okay and I was cheerfully enthusiastic about what I nice day I’d had. I could hear their voices change from slightly worried to relieved as I talked. Plus I got to spend the day enjoying the winter sunshine with a side bonus of the satisfied feeling of finally getting the bulbs planted.

    12. Bagpuss*

      I’d think about what you personally would enjoy andwhether, and which, or your usual chrsitmas traditonns your want to keep and which you don’t. If you want turkey then buy in a small crown or separtedrumstik, if not, indulge yourself with steak or a curry or whatever tickles your fancy.

      If it’s really importat to you to have certian foods or to open gifts at a specfic time, plan for that, but equally if you wouldrather spend a day pampering yourself with long baths / bingeing tv shows and other ‘non-christmassy’ stuff, do that.

      If you are alone becuase family are elsewhere, think about whether you want to plan to have a Zoom call and see eveyone (even to open gifts ‘ together’)

      If there’s anything specific you think you will miss, nd can’t replicate, then think about actively planning something else instead for the relevant time – e.g. plan to go out for a walk if you think you’ll miss the traditional silly card games after lunch, or plan your movie bingefor the time that you’d normally be going for a wlak with the family, if a solo walk doesn’t appeal.

    13. Kiki is the Most*

      There are some good suggestions here for a solo day!

      If you do want to be with others, usually I can find a Meet Up group or a pop-up dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate dinner with strangers.
      And I don’t have to cook!

      Or host a small group of friends for bevvies, snacks and Hallmark Holiday movie bingo? (google to print cards!)

      Or volunteer at a local food kitchen, assisted-living home, etc?

    14. Marion Ravenwood*

      I did New Year’s Eve solo last year. I went for a big walk in the afternoon (timing it so I got home just as it was getting dark and the neighbours’ Christmas lights were coming on), ordered a takeaway and watched some films. It was great.

      If I was doing Christmas solo, I’d probably do something similar, but adding in a fancy breakfast and buying in some nice food, as I’m not sure what the situation is with takeaways here on Christmas Day.

  14. Lily of the Valley*

    Let’s say you wanted to make rum balls (the uncooked kind made with Nilla wafer crumbs) for teetotalers. What are the options?

    1. Use a different liquid–what would be tasty?
    2. Use rum flavoring–would you use a 1/4 of rum flavoring or use a teaspoon mixed with another liquid?
    3. Simmer some rum for a couple hours until the alcohol has evaporated–this one seems risky as you won’t really know what the alcohol content is

    Other suggestions?

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      If you want them to taste like spiced rum, just use the spices — clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, star anise, ginger, vanilla bean, molasses.

      1. Lily of the Valley*

        Maybe molasses diluted with water would contribute enough flavor, although I didn’t want to add additional sweetener. I think they actually would need less sweetener without all the booze. Maybe replace some of the corn syrup with molasses and use water…

    2. Lily of the Valley*

      2. *1/4 c of rum flavoring, ie, 1:1 replacement of rum with rum flavoring. Seems … intense.

      1. Lily of the Valley*

        Vanilla extract is a given. :) It is also very strong, though, and has a high alcohol content on its own.

        1. KatEnigma*

          Yep to vanilla extract being alcohol.

          Sometimes if I am baking and find myself out of vanilla, I use rum. My mom taught me that.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          Vanilla extract is one of the ones I’ve learned can cause issues cooking for people who avoid all alcohol.

          1. ScruffyInternHerder*

            Makes sense – my homemade vanilla extract is basically vanilla beans marinated in vodka after being split and scraped a bit.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Came here to say that. I have replaced rum with orange juice in almost all of my holiday recipes, cooked or uncooked, and it works very well.
        If you also need to steep dried fruit in something other than rum BTW, black spiced tea works a treat.

    3. Phillippe II*

      I’d make it without the flavoring and then add the flavoring in a bit at a time until you get the flavor you want. For Cat’s Sake don’t substitute flavor for rum 1:1 or even .25:1, it will be way overpowering! And a note on flavorings, most of them are alcohol based; in the US, rum extract is typically 70-80 proof.

      1. Lily of the Valley*

        Interesting. Rum is the same proof.

        I don’t cook with rum flavoring, or any alcohol flavoring. I just cook with rum (or whatever). I kind of assumed that alcohol flavorings were alcohol-free, bc otherwise one would just use the real thing.

        My mind is going to boggle that rum flavoring is the same proof as rum for the rest of the night.

        1. Phillippe+II*

          One doesn’t just use the real thing because, while they have the same alcohol content, the flavor compounds’ concentration is vastly different!

    4. old curmudgeon*

      Strong-brewed coffee – that would play nicely with the chocolate flavor from the cocoa (assuming that’s part of your recipe). Possibly with a tablespoon of molasses instead of the dark corn syrup, as molasses has an actual flavor instead of just being sticky/sweet.

      1. Lily of the Valley*

        Coffee is a terrific idea! I usually add a bit of instant coffee to chocolate things anyway. Weak coffee, though. I don’t want mocha balls.

    5. SarahKay*

      I definitely wouldn’t go with the simmered rum, since apparently this does not get rid of nearly as much alcohol as you might think. And if someone is actually struggling with alcohol, then even reduced-alcohol rum balls might still be an issue.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Yes – although possiby someone in that situation might also avoid thingsthat were rum flavoured.
        But simmered rum would still be an issue for anyone who avoids alcohol for religious reasons

      2. Lily oh the Valley*

        You are thinking of baking and braising, where the dish completes cooking before the alcohol is gone, and where surface area and volume impacts evaporation. I’m talking about heating just the liquid, which is very effective at reducing alcohol content.

    6. Bagpuss*

      I found this suggestion – I haven’t tried it (I don’t like rum!)

      Combine 2/3 cup boiling water, 1/4 cup raisins, 2 tablespoons butter, 4 teaspoons molasses, and pinch salt in bowl. Submerge 1 black tea bag in water mixture for 4 minutes. Refrigerate for 1 hour to let flavors meld. Strain and use in place of dark rum.

      Amazon (and no doubt other outlets) also offer alcohol free rum flavoring

      1. Bagpuss*

        to add – they seem to list as flovoring rather than essence if you ant it alcohol free, which I guess makes sense

      2. Lily of the Valley*

        Soaking raisins in boiling water is another great idea!

        The rum extract/flavoring was sold out in the stores I went to, so I couldn’t examine the bottles for ingredients. I don’t even know how you extract rum, anyway, unless it’s a sugar cane or molasses extract. I was expecting artificial flavoring, not extract. A small bottle was like 2 bucks, so when it’s back in stock, I’ll probably buy some just to check it out.

  15. TransAcademic*

    Background: I’m a trans man in my mid-30s. I came out to my parents last September, but didn’t see any of my extended family during the holidays last year due to COVID. My mom did not take the news of my transition well and hadn’t informed any of the people on her side of the family about my transition.

    This past weekend my mom had a party for her side of the family. I had no intentions of pretending that I’m not trans (which would be difficult anyways, since I’ve been on T for over a year now), and I knew that I wouldn’t have the emotional energy to have the initial “I’m trans!” conversation 20+ times. To get the word out, the week before the party I sent an email to everyone I had contact information for informing them of my situation. I wasn’t expecting anyone to reply, and I wasn’t sure how everyone would react.

    I was pleasantly surprised when I got several responses before the party from my relatives, all of them expressing their love and support. That trend continued at the party itself, where people did their best to use my new name and pronouns, and everyone was very welcoming and supportive. It was a joy to be able to be my authentic self and have that be respected and affirmed by my family members.

    To all of my fellow LGBTQIA+ folks, I hope that you have people in your life who love you for who you are, even if it’s not your biological family. Also, it is perfectly fine to only be out to yourself; you don’t owe it to anyone to come out in a specific way or at a specific time. If right now isn’t safe I hope that one day you will be in a safe place. Even though I’m an anonymous person on the internet, I hope it helps to know that I am wishing you all the best and I’m sending you Jedi hugs if you want them.

    1. Sarra N. Dipity*

      I have to admit I was expecting something different from the first paragraph. I am beyond happy for you that your extended family has been loving and accepting of who you are.

    2. LabTechNoMore*

      With all the terrible news in our community, it warms my heart to hear this. Thank you for sharing, and I’m so happy that your extended family supports you!<3

    3. KatEnigma*

      My husband’s sibling is MTF. She was scared to come out, but even their elderly devout Catholic grandparents were supportive. Anyone who can’t manage supportive keeps their mouth shut.

      Remember that the horror stories are the ones people repeat.

    4. Semi-retired admin*

      I love this so much for you. I live in Colorado Springs and my community is reeeling over the recent events here.

      1. Dino*

        Sending love to you and the community. I actually broke down crying at work when I saw the press conference where the police announced the victims and used their correct names and pronouns. I’m so used to us not getting that dignity even in death that I never thought it would ever happen. And then the sadness and grief of that on top of the lives lost.

        And thank you, TransAcademic. Thank you for the reminder that sometimes things work out and those who love us can love us enough to show it in that way.

    5. TuckerMom*

      Thanks for this! We tried to get the family onboard with using the correct name and pronouns for our nonbinary offspring, but they said, “Why can’t you just pretend, and let us all enjoy the holiday?” Yes, we’ll all enjoy it SO MUCH.

      1. Ann Ominous*

        Omg. How is using your pronouns incompatible with their enjoyment of the holiday??? I want to call them and tell them about themselves.

    6. MEH Squared*

      This is lovely and I’m so glad it turned out well. I went in bracing myself for a bad ending, and it was a relief that you had mostly positivity from your extended family.

      I’ve been numb most of this week after hearing about Colorado Springs. Rage and fear bubble up in equal parts, and I’ve had a hard time keeping myself updated about it. And, of course, the overwhelming grief that we have lost more members of our community to violence and hatred.

      Thank yiou for shining a light in an otherwise dark time.

    7. marvin*

      Aw, thanks for sharing this! I’m so glad to hear it went well. I also came out as trans within the last year and I’ve been surprised by how many people have been really lovely and supportive about it.

  16. LCH*

    trying to understand job descriptions outside of my field, but in related areas in an attempt to switch. this translates to “layoffs” right?

    “Works with Talent Business Advisors, Business Leaders, Talent Relations, and Performance Management on optimal approach to conduct large involuntary separation actions to achieve Business objectives and mitigate reputational and legal risk.”

    1. Phillippe II*

      Yeah, that’s the George Clooney role in “Up in the Air.”

      You’d be the face of the layoffs, then likely fired immediately after.

  17. Miss Fisher*

    Not sure if anyone watches, but I just binged 3 great shows.

    1. Severance – insane and hard to explain, but so so good
    2. Mythic Quest – holy toxic workplace show, but funny
    3. The White Lotus – not a workplace show, but still so good and I am cracking up at all the reddit theories on the deaths etc.

    Any other good binges out there for this holiday season? I am about sick of hallmark christmas movies.

    1. KatEnigma*

      I started Sissi yesterday. I liked the first episode, but it’s not 5 yr old appropriate so I only got in 1 episode. Netflix let’s you choose between subtitles or dubbed. I need to switch to dubbed because even my rusty German was getting annoyed by the translation…

      1. Hanani*

        I’m baffled at the fact that the subtitles say things like [in English] when they are most definitely speaking German. It seemed to happen every time they switched from French or Italian back to German. I wonder if they just use the English subtitles from the dubbed version, and that’s part of why the translations aren’t good?

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I really liked The Empress (Sisi). I have also just caught up with The Crown and thought Elizabeth Debicki was very good as Princess Diana.

        2. KatEnigma*

          I think it’s overall, a lack of attention to detail. Like the doctor washing his hands (and they made a point to show it!) before “examining” her before the wedding, when Lister didn’t even start to research his germ theory until 10ish years later, and nvm how many years it took to be accepted after that. I’m enjoying the series overall, but

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Only Murders in the Building–I have no interest in true crime but loved this. Three true-crime enthusiasts discover a murder, and decide to investigate and podcast it. They of course become suspects. I’d put this in with Severance on sheer delight.

      Bad Sisters–A group of close-knit sisters plan to off their horrible brother-in-law. (Who is truly, truly, horrible and you are rooting for someone to take him out from the get-go.) Gets pretty dark as it goes on, but the writing and acting are on point.

    3. Double A*

      “Reboot” on Hulu. A 2000s sitcom is rebooted 15 years later with the original cast. Keegan Michael Key, Judy Greer, Rachel Bloom, Johnny Knoxville, Paul Register, and Calum Worthy. It’s is absolutely top notch sitcom writing. There’s only 8 episodes and I’m desperately hoping they’ll have a second season.

    4. PollyQ*

      Ted Lasso, which is as charming and smart as everyone else in the world already noticed. It also has a cute Xmas episode in the 2nd season.

    5. Kowalski! Options!*

      El Presidente, on Amazon Prime. It’s a good primer for why the World Cup (and FIFA) are so controversial, and it breaks every dramatic convention in the screenwriting book: the unreliable narrator is a 1960s office type with an iPhone 14 and a contract from Amazon; fourth walls are a mere technicality; and it never stops poking fun at something it obviously loves dearly (but wishes were better). I blew through the entire second season on Saturday (the first season isn’t available yet here).

    6. Bluebell*

      If you watched Dark a few years ago and liked it, I highly recommend 1899 on Netflix. It’s made by the same creators and takes place on a steamship of immigrants. Very twisty with lots of emotion and WTF moments. Super bingeable. I also recommend Dead to Me for being a super dark shade of funny. Season 3 is the last one.

  18. Sarra N. Dipity*

    I’m going to a Friendsgiving meal tomorrow and I really don’t want to. I told my spouse I didn’t want to. My best friend told him that I actually **did** want to (don’t know where they got that information from; I certainly didn’t tell them that) and started making plans about what each of our families was going to bring to the meal (hosted at a different friend’s house).

    There’s going to be 13 people there, including 2 that I can’t stand, 5 kids (3 of whom are diagnosed on the autism spectrum (including my own)), 3 cats, a ferret, and who knows what other mammals.

    Managing my kid in this kind of chaotic and over-stimulating environment is utterly exhausting. Kiddo is also gluten-free, which means I have to keep track of what goes on his plate (and is picky, so what goes on his plate is going to be… not a lot).

    Ugh. I want to call in sick.

    1. Miss Fisher*

      Do it, perhaps you or child has cat allergies, if that works. I am sure they would understand otherwise. Being around so many people can be exhausting.

    2. Lily of the Valley*

      I sure hope Spouse is handling the dish that your family is bringing, and I hypothesize from the pronouns that he is not.

      My sympathies.

    3. Ampersand*

      My vote is for canceling. Or your spouse can attend alone. As someone who has to eat GF (so I know how hard this is as an adult, let alone for kids) and has a child who is a picky eater and prone to meltdowns in overstimulating environments, I feel for you. I know you didn’t ask for advice but I’m rooting for you to stay home and avoid the chaos. :)

      1. Samwise*

        That right here.

        If your friend who said you wanted to come pouts, you just tell them, “I told you I did not want to go” or “I don’t know why you thought I was coming, I did not say anything about it to you.”

        Spouse is mad or embarrassed? That’s on them. And they can make or buy the food contribution.

        Stay home. Maybe next time your friend and spouse will check with you/believe what you tell them.

      2. Pennyworth*

        I second sending spouse along with the required dish, whoever makes it, and send apologies from you and kiddo. When you have time someday, talk to your friend and ask them not to speak for you especially when they are wrong.

    4. Koifeeder*

      Professional autistic and former child here- if you’re already this miserable just thinking about it, your kid is unlikely to be having a good time at Friendsgiving either. Especially if there’s not enough of things he’s actually going to be willing to eat. I have many memories of going to family events/family friend events and coming home exhausted, hangry, wrung-out, and just generally miserable.

    5. MigraineMonth*

      Call in sick! Spouse can go if they want; you and kiddo can stay home and chill.

      I went to a Friendsgiving last weekend, and it was lovely apart from needing to keep the numerous small children away from the two very large dogs that kept trying to savage each other.

    6. Observer*

      And your spouse believed your “friend” over you?

      Stay home and keep the kiddo at home. Use that time to think about why your friend would tell your spouse that you really do want to go, and why he swallowed that.

    7. Workerbee*

      Don’t go. Sounds like you didn’t even have a choice about what to bring. And that you are the one stuck with watching your kid’s plate while your own food grows cold.

      Spouse pouts? Ask why they didn’t listen to you the first time.

      If you could do this and ensure your kid would remain safe food-wise, I’d even say take yourself off to a nice few hours in a private hotel room and let spouse do the managing and worrying.

    8. Kara Danvers*

      It’s your life. Why push yourself through something that’s going to make you miserable?

      It’s disturbing that your spouse isn’t listening to you.

  19. NeonDreams*

    Not Thanksgiving related but something made me smile last night. I was delivering Door Dash to a customer and their house had a sunroom type porch. Their cats were on the porch. They saw the huge bag of Outback Steakhouse I had and started meowing like crazy at me. I’m a cat person, so I spoke to them in a cutesy voice for a second and left the food for customer (The porch had a door). After I left, I saw the customer gave me a generous tip. Double win!

    1. Miss Fisher*

      Let me ask you a question. When I get door dash delivered, it can be hit or miss. About half the time I order, something is wrong. Mostly, I know it is not the driver’s fault because they seal bags and orders cannot be checked etc. But twice, I, who ordered 1 meal, received the wrong order containing food for a whole family. The name of the orderer was on the receipt stapled to the bag. When you select an order, can you see the name of who ordered? Was the driver just not paying attention? In this case, if I tell doordash that the order was wrong, does that come out of the driver’s pay?

      1. NeonDreams*

        I think that person wasn’t paying attention. The bag has a receipt stapled to it. Yes, the app shows you different orders. Let’s say I had A and B from from a restaurant. The app only allows you to look at one order at a time. You can switch between if you want to but it shows which order it belongs to. The DoorDash base pay is dismal, so the majority of what we earn is tips. Right after the order is delivered you can rate the driver for their service or reduce the tip. I’m not sure if you can go back later and review.

        It boggles my mind how many stories I’ve heard of people getting wrong orders or stuff being slow. I would be mortified if I delivered to the wrong place. The one time I did, I immediately picked up the food and took it to the correct place. I didn’t get a trip for that order.

  20. bunniferous*

    Help! My elderly parents are coming to my house for Thanksgiving dinner-and they have both been sick with (thankfully just) colds for the last three days or so. There is NO WAY I can tell them to just Stay Home-so folks, give me your best tips, no matter how strange or wacky, on how to avoid the germage!
    (They will probably wear masks. I imagine I will throw one on myself. It’s just going to be five people in all this year so thankfully not a big crowd.)

    I am also going to have the lavender essential oil diffusing, in the off chance it would actually help…..will it?

    1. Sarra N. Dipity*

      I don’t think lavender essential oil will do more than make things smell lavender-y. But I would make sure that every sink has hand soap next to it, keep them away from food prep, have hand sanitizer strategically placed… Good luck.

      1. WellRed*

        I’d also have dispensers of Clorox wipes located about and encourage liberal use by everyone on door knobs, fridge handles, light switches. Wash hands frequently and don’t touch your face

        1. SarahKay*

          Definitely this. A few years back my parents started using anti-bacterial wipes on all door handles, switches etc whenever one of them had a cold – they’d take it in turns to just go round the house and wipe every couple of hours or so. They said it dramatically reduced how often the other would catch the cold, even though they were still sharing a car, sofa, bed, etc.

    2. Miss Fisher*

      If you do buffet style, I wouldn’t let them go through the line. Volunteer to get their plate.

    3. just another queer reader*

      Masks for all, frequent handwashing, and ventilation. (Can you open a window or two?)

      1. just another queer reader*

        *masks when not actively eating. Preferably N-95 or KN-95, but surgical or cloth is better than nothing.

      2. Prospect Gone Bad*

        ventilate! I know I’m a weirdo but I always have windows open. A solid 1/2 of houses are stuffy and have a strong smell. Not to keep complaining about my family’s but they keep the place locked up “because the cost of heat” and it smells like a dusty museum and makes you sleepy after a while. I spend half of the time there outside. I just do not get the logic there or how they don’t notice it

        1. Nope.*

          I mean, I would love to have my windows open frequently (especially cracked a little during winter – I absolutely love falling asleep with a little brisk breeze), but I am a single woman living alone on the first floor of an apartment complex in a not exactly crime free area. And my windows are only a few feet away from the walkway everyone has to take to come in from the parking lot, lots of foot traffic. Additionally, it’s dirt cheap, so the screens aren’t in the best shape, and I don’t need even more ways for bugs to crawl in. People have plenty of reasons. Cost of heat is a perfectly valid one.

        2. Glomarization, Esq.*

          ‘Tis the season for heating costs to go up … why not take them at their word that they don’t want to heat the outdoors? Lord knows this is the time of year when I dread getting my electric bills, and I can put on only so many layers of longjohns and sweaters.

    4. Don'tbeadork*

      Plate all the food yourself. Don’t pass bowls and platters around the table if you can avoid it at all. That means everyone gets their own butter dish with pre-sliced pats, and if possible, their own salt and pepper dispensers (shakers, tiny bowls with itty-bitty spoons, whatever).

      1. Observer*

        Definitely plate the food. And if you must have shared condiments or the like, make sure that you are using shakers for things that can go in there (you don’t want someone taking a pinch of salt, for instance) and serving utensils for everything else.

    5. Serenity Now; Firefly Class*

      Actually – minor essential oil user here, but I am fully vaxxed. Rosemary has antibacterial properties and so do clove and nutmeg. Perhaps serve a warm spiced cider with mulling spices, and rosemary in potatoes. Lavender is more for stress relief or burn healing. So use it is you need it, but it’s not the germ-killing oil you’re looking for.

      Open a small window for fresh air, have lots of towels for people to dry their hands on and then put directly into a dirty hand towel basket.

      1. Ginger Pet Lady*

        “Anti bacterial properties” don’t do ANYTHING for viral illnesses like colds, flu and COVID.
        If they actually have those properties at all when diffused, which is doubtful.

    6. JSPA*

      The essential oil will only weaken barriers (biological and manufactured) and if anyone is at all sensitive, you’re starting them off with a double-whammy.

      I’d heat the house in advance, then focus on airflow. Unfortunately, your currently sick people are also your high-risk people, so it’s hard to know whether to try to put them more upwind or downwind.

      PS Most of what’s going around can present as “just a cold” for several days.

    7. AnonAgain*

      Hate to tell you this, but the strain of COVID that’s been going around this fall presents as a bad cold. And the home tests are often false negatives on it

      1. londonedit*

        There are also (where I live, anyway) just a ton of actual colds/flu/non-Covid virus things going round, which are hitting people harder than usual because we’ve all spent nearly three years avoiding people so no one has any immunity.

    8. Qwerty*

      I’ll start with the logical down to the weird

      – Ventilation. Try to get windows cracked so there is a cross breeze.

      – Parents get served their food/drink and are not allowed in the kitchen

      – No hugs, sharing drinks, etc. (good luck)

      – Try to spread out during the dinner. Use your biggest table with the extra leaves put in if possible.

      – Limit your alcohol, it lowers the immune system

      – Hand sanitizer!

      – Assume that you are infected and start whatever your rituals are when you have a cold.

      – Gargle mouthwash or saltwater the next couple nights. Try to kill the virus before it takes a strong hold.

      – Hot tea with 1tablespoon honey + 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Has antiviral / antibiotic properties, plus is also a good remedy for a sore throat.

      – Elderberry gummies supposedly help the immune system. And they are delicious

      – I love Zarbees cough syrup. It’s non-pharma. Just dark honey + vitamins + herbs. I pour it in hot water as a tea. Helps break up mucus in the lungs, tastes delicious, not sure how much of it is placebo effect but seems to be useful when I’m coming down with something.

    9. RagingADHD*

      There is an old clip from Mythbusters about attending a party with someone who has a cold and avoiding exposure. They used a gel that glowed in blacklight and did a reveal afterward to show which behaviors were most successful.

    10. Westsidestory*

      As many have said:
      – masks when not eating
      – FREQUENT hand washing for everyone. Instead of lavender oil, get some holiday-scented soap (cinnamon/apple etc) and some pretty paper hand towels and remind all to keep wasing those hands
      – assign someone to run wipes around common touch point once every hour or so (doorknobs, drawer pulls, refrigerator door, guest bathroom sink area, phones and tv remotes) it will make a difference
      – plate the food

      Good luck!

    11. Teapot Wrangler*

      Lavender sadly not likely to help much but definitely open lots of windows even if that means you need to crank up the heating, paper towels and lots of handwashing, clean touchpoints like light switches, door handles etc. regularly. Wouldn’t worry too much beyond that. If you have to keep the windows closed or not very open and have a CO2 meter, use it to see if the room is well ventilated enough.

      Good luck!

  21. TheActualA*

    So this year I’m not doing Thanksgiving. I know some Native American folks who have expressed very clearly how painful a “celebration” it is, including someone who is a pretty pivotal person in my life. I think it’s the right choice for me not to celebrate but I’m also really mourning the loss of it.

    Thanksgiving was pretty much the only holiday my family of origin celebrated when I was growing up and then my chosen family and I developed some great memories and traditions. Most of them are not celebrating it either for similar reasons which makes it both easier and more difficult. Work has also been challenging this week because there has been a lot of questions about what I’m doing for Thanksgiving and, “Oh, I’m just staying around here” isn’t always a sufficient answer plus I haven’t necessarily wanted to give the whole explanation.

    Is there anyone else who has done this who has any tips?

    1. Bananas*

      I haven’t done it, but consider shifting some of those traditions to Christmas or Easter instead. Traditions are an important part of the human experience and you shouldn’t feel guilty about having them, just try to separate them from the problematic history and time of year and find new ways to enjoy them.

    2. 867-5309*

      I understand your rationale and also… think we could change the narrative of it. I view it as a special time with family and to share gratitude. I know the holiday origins are painful (and completely untrue as told to us in school) so maybe there is a way to drive change around how we think of the day.

      To your specific question… Last year and this year I am completely alone on the holiday and it’s hard. I don’t focus on “celebrating” and don’t try to make up for being alone by having a traditional meal. Instead, I do things like go for a hike, eat my favorite (completely unhealthy and non-grown up frozen pizza brand) and, since I celebrate Christmas, use it as a kick off to the season and watch some of my favorite movies.

    3. something about sharks*

      I canceled Thanksgiving for myself a few years ago, after the combination of working retail through the Black Friday madness for three years running (a career I was NOT cut out for, props to anyone who can do it) and a particularly ugly family gathering of people who fell on opposite sides of the 2016 elections left me with some very unpleasant associations with the entire month, and eventually decided to just abandon it forever for the same reasons you’ve chosen not to celebrate. I get it – it’s tough the first couple times, especially when you have traditions built up around it!

      Tips for processing it: find things to do by yourself that day that aren’t “Thanksgiving” things but still give you An Activity, since in the US you’re likely to get this day off for most of your career if you’re not in retail or essential services. I use the free day off as a cooking practice day (I can test recipes I want to use for actual holidays later without inflicting possible failures on unsuspecting family). Back when I worked in a library, I also volunteered to cover Wednesday/Friday and the weekend for coworkers who did celebrate, which made it less of a Holiday Weekend for me and more of just a random day off like President’s Day; if that’s an option for you next year, it may help. (Plus, the library was dead quiet that day. I got so much done and actually looked forward to it after the first year.)

      Tips for coworker conversations: Depending how you and your coworkers have discussed Thanksgiving in the past, it might or might not work for you, but I’ve had a lot of luck with talking about the things I’m going to do on my nice quiet celebration-free day. It redirects the conversation away from “not celebrating” and into “practicing for the next holiday, wish me luck with the chicken tetrazzini, cream sauce is my nemesis” or “teaching the cat to sit on command, I’ll send pictures if it works”. Being the Thanksgiving Coverage Person also helped after the first year, because it set the expectation that Sharks Doesn’t Do Things On Thanksgiving, Ask Her If You Want That Weekend Off. (Which makes you surprisingly popular.)

      Give yourself time! It’ll get easier the further away from it you get. There might be some expectation-resetting for both you and your coworkers, but it’ll be okay.

    4. JSPA*

      There have been harvest festivals for as long as there have been harvests. Shift the day by a day or two, focus on the land, bounty, wise use and putting back (socially and ecologically)?

    5. Gnome*

      The only holidays we did growing up were Thanksgiving and Xmas. My family as an adult (spouses and kids) doesn’t do Thanksgiving. We just don’t like the food, don’t have family to travel to in a reasonable way, so we just haven’t done it for years.

      I just say, Oh we don’t do Thanksgiving and change the topic. Nobody’s followed up on it – I think they’re scared it’ll be a PTSD thing or something. Sometimes we go away for a couple days just because school is out and it’s a nice change of pace, but I still say we don’t do Thanksgiving. I try to keep it boring so people stop asking. For those (e.g. clients) who I need to be a bit more careful with in case they do want to follow up, I usually just say something like, “oh I’m going to catch up on my reading/volunteer” so I say I’m doing something but there’s not much to follow up on or pry into.

    6. ecnaseener*

      The thing that would probably make you feel best is channeling your energy into something positive for Native American people – call up your Native friend or write them a note to let them know you’re thinking of them on a hard day; research charities/advocacy orgs you could donate to, etc. Right now you’re just Not Celebrating out of obligation?guilt? something not positive — that’s no use to anyone.

  22. 867-5309*

    Last night I read, “Your Mom Is Destined to Annoy You” from the New York Times, which was published in 2019. Highly recommend for those with mothers they love but who often seem critical and after a couple days drive them crazy. :)

  23. Freddy*

    Well, it’s my first Thanksgiving since my husband left me, and I don’t get our son. (I do get Christmas.) What should I do to make the day feel special or at least different/not pathetic?? Any/all ideas welcome. As is a pep talk or some sympathy; I know it’ll only get easier but this first year is [expletive redacted] rough.

    1. 867-5309*

      Get outside! The fresh air and walking with help.

      Plan for your favorite foods and indulgent movie list. NOT necessarily holiday stuff – the things you don’t normally keep in the house or the movies you watched years ago and have always wanted to rewatch.

      If you are even loosely/culturally religious, see if there is a service on Thanksgiving day.

      But mostly remember – it blows and you aren’t alone. Hang in there.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      First, hugs. Second, make or order your favorite dish, pop in your favorite movie, and enjoy some you time. If you’ve got other family try to schedule some time for phone/video calls, including your son! Just because he isn’t with you tomorrow doesn’t mean you don’t get to wish him a happy Thanksgiving!

    3. Gnome*

      When I couldn’t do what I wanted on Thanksgiving, I made the day just a day off work. I didn’t feel like it was a pathetic or sad Thanksgiving because… I didn’t do anything remotely Thanksgiving-ish. I don’t know if that works for you, but it did for me.

      FWIW tomorrow I’m taking my son for a long session of driving practice, volunteering at an animal shelter, and watching movies. I’m not even sure what we are having for dinner as I have not planned it.

    4. looking for a new name*

      Pamper yourself – nice bath and book, schedule a call to your BFF, eat dessert for breakfast, do a facial mask, start your Christmas cards if you do them. If you decorate for Christmas, then maybe do that so your son will be pleasantly surprised when he comes back. Sorry, this just sucks.

    5. Workerbee*

      Maybe immerse yourself in other creatures and objects for awhile? Wander around the zoo and talk to the animals, head to a museum, see if there are any open-air Christmas markets going on (weather and openings permitting, etc.). Be sure to include something decadent for lunch, like just having dessert.

      1. Squeakrad*

        Another vote for the zoo or something outdoors. I love zoos personally so I would vote for that. It always choose me up.

    6. Really*

      I promise that while it will never be “okay”, that it will get better. Hang with other people if you can and think of stuff that you can’t do when your child is with you and do those things. Best wishes and you are in my thoughts this weekend.

    7. My dog owns me!*

      I’m on the same boat! And so angry still! We don’t celebrate thanksgivings, but I’ll be alone for new year’s.
      What cheers me up tremendously is revenge fun: just about everything you can think is an indulgent joy. Caramel ice cream in the bathtub? Stream a good movie in there. Good glass of wine? Let’s also get a cheese plate and fruit.
      Everything you amp up, add something extra. Visit to the zoo? Invite your cousin / go with those fashion clothes you never use/ sketch the animals.
      Think: what would 5 year old you do?

  24. Jennifer Strange*

    I just spent about an hour peeling, chopping, and boiling down apples to mush up for my infant. I like to add some sugar and cinnamon too, so I put in a bit of sugar…then grabbed the black pepper instead of the cinnamon. I didn’t notice until I had dumped some in and the smell hit me. I need to sit for a moment with my head in my hands.

    1. KatEnigma*

      Next time, don’t peel. You don’t even really have to do more than core. Then cook them with just a little water (like 1/4 cup for a vat) and take an immersion blender to break down the peels. No sugar needed at all, but I add a little cinnamon when I defrost the frozen containers and serve warm. It’s better than any other applesauce and very little work.

      1. Pennyworth*

        Definitely don’t need to add sugar (or cinnamon), it will only train the baby to like sweet stuff.

        1. KatEnigma*

          Babies aren’t “trained” to like sweet stuff. They like it because it’s an evolutionary response that has kept humans alive for millenia- very few poisonous food is sweet. Breast milk is sweet!

          But it’s unnecessary. The cinnamon, however, is recommended by modern dieticians, as well as other spices, to start to expand the babies palate. If you look at modern baby food, it’s now spiced and her bed, rather than the (literal) pap it used to be.

          1. Observer*

            Yeah, the whole “teaching kids to like sweet stuff” is kind of silly. Kids don’t need to be “taught” that.

            But giving them highly sweetened stuff does tend to set up with a higher threshold for counts as sweet over time.

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      LOL I interchanged baking soda for baking powder thinking same stuff, right? Tasted like hell and I had to throw it out even though it looked yummy

      1. Elenna*

        You can swap baking soda for baking powder (and vice versa)! But it’s not 1-1, you have to use different amounts, and also maybe add cream of tartar or some other acidic thing. I don’t recall the exact details but Google is generally helpful when trying to figure out if you can substitute ingredients.

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          it made my cake taste like, IDK, a pretzel? It was inedible. But I don’t measure stuff it may be the quantities, as you mention!

          1. Lily of the Valley*

            Baking powder = baking + an additional, slower reacting leavening agent. That is where the term “double acting” comes from.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Baking powder is baking soda with acid already in it. If you use baking soda, you have to make sure the acid is in the rest of the recipe (buttermilk, oj, cocoa, most fruit) or add some cream of tartar or vinegar to provide the acid. Baking powder is weaker because the acid part dilutes the leavening part. I never can remember the substitution so I just google it every time.

        The easy way to remember it is the science fair volcano. Baking soda + vinegar = lots of bubbles. The same process puts the air pockets in your banana bread.

    3. JSPA*

      Enough pepper that the baby can’t eat it? Or just not the flavor you’re expecting, as an adult? (Babies don’t have tons of flavor expectations, and some of them tolerate spice?)

      If they’re good with dairy and egg, maybe turn it into a sweet and savory apple custard?

    4. Observer*

      You’re putting WAAAY more work than necessary here.

      If you have a toaster oven, just stick the apple in there and bake it as is. Once it’s done scoop out the flesh and feed the baby. If the apple is good it’s plenty sweet and your infant absolutely does NOT need the extra sugar. If you really want to add some flavor, core the apple before you bake it and then stuff the core with raisins / nut / cinnamon or whatever you want to flavor it with. You won’t want to feed the kid the raisins, but if you use nuts that may (or may not) be soft enough to give the baby. In either case, feed the baby the apple – the flavor will infuse the apple. (eat the filling yourself.)

      If you don’t have a toaster oven and want to do a bunch at once, any oven will do.

      If you don’t have a toaster oven and a full size oven is not practical, the advice to just core and boil with just a little water works very well. Cooked apples are sweet enough that you don’t need the sugar, and soft enough that you don’t need to chop then in advance.

    5. Not A Manager*

      I used to do that, but then I got a food mill. They seem so weird and unnecessary with all of the electric stuff we have, but I love mine. Now I core the apples and cut off the end bits, chop them up large, and cook the heck out of them. Run them through the food mill on whatever coarseness you like. (I tried not coring them one time, but then I had little bits of stringy core in my apple sauce, even after milling on the finest plate.)

    6. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      Oh I feel you! Haven’t messed up baby food yet but have had way more cooking/ baking mistakes since my 9 month old was born. I needed 3/4 c of milk for biscuits but grabbed the two cup liquid cup measure and poured to 1 and 3/4 c. I thought “that looks like a lot of milk” as I poured it in. Thankfully I was able to just double the dry ingredients and they came out fine

  25. Danish*

    Feeling like 40% like I want to cancel on friendsgiving and spend the next four days hibernating in my home with only cats and fuzzy pajamas, but… I have a host of annoying common-ingredient-food allergies that all the other attending guests have gone out of their way to double check with me and modify their recipes for, and I’m afraid if I cancelled now I would simply perish out of guilt. It’s so inconvenient when people are so thoughtful!!!!

    1. WellRed*

      You 60% want to go so power up and power through. You can hibernate after that and you’ll probably be glad you went.

    2. Workerbee*

      Just think how you’ve already come this far and tomorrow is almost here, so soon you’ll be at the friendsgiving, and then it’ll be over and you’ll have all the joy of coming home stuffed and satiated with cats and pajamas in your immediate future.

  26. Colette*

    Looking for book recommendations:
    – 8 year old, started in French immersion and switched to English school this year (so I’m guessing not a great reader)
    – 11 year old, likes graphic novels, big animal person
    – 13 year old, good reader, likes video games


    1. Jennifer Strange*

      For the 13 year old might I suggest The Last Dragon Slayer series by Jasper Fforde? The main character is who I chose my username from. Really fun and imaginative.

      1. Clisby*

        Yes! This might be good for both the 11-year-old and 13-year-old. I think I was about 11 when I read The Jungle Book, which was Gaiman’s inspiration for The Graveyard Book.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Don’t know much about graphic novels, but in general, some recommendations of mine would be Marita Conlon-McKenna’s books (might not be well known outside Ireland). More for the older two. There’s one set in the Irish Famine, one about a young girl who is a member of the Travelling Community back in the 90s, I think, when it was common for young people from the Travelling Community to leave school at a young age and she is apprehensive about starting secondary school. I think there is also one about World War II and British refugees in Ireland.

      Also the “Murder Most Unladylike” Daisy and Hazel series if either of the older two like mysteries. Agatha Christie would also be a good choice for the older one if he/she likes mysteries.

      For the youngest, The Worst Witch series or Horrible Henry are both sort of age appropiate for 8 year olds but with a young reading level (though I wouldn’t necessarily assume a lower reading level; it’s common for Irish kids to attend Irish immersion schools and I just googled and it confirmed what I thought, that there is no difference in reading ages in English between those who attend Irish and English medium schools; they actually gave age 8 as the age at which reading ages correspond and some sources say the reading skills of 8 year olds in Irish medium schools were better. Don’t know if it’s the same for French immersion or whether the systems are similar, but…it seems possible).

      Oh, how about Asterix, for the 11 year old?

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Asterix is a great idea! It’s originally French but translated into a gazillion of languages and even dialects, so you could him even get one in both languages-very interesting in how the jokes translate!
        I have one in both ny native language and Latin and it’s great.

    3. Serenity Now; Firefly Class*

      8 year old – I love the Ook and Gluk caveman series by Dav Pikley, but his Ricky Ricotta series is an easy read, too.
      11 yo – Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novels are super popular. Smile is her best known. Or try the Spirit Animals series.
      13 yo – Keeper of the Lost Cities series by Shannon messenger or The Ranger’s apprentice Series by John Flanagan.

      1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

        Co-sign all of these, with the addition for the 8 yo of Ivy & Bean or Stink series.

    4. Phillippe II*

      11, Digger by Ursula Vernon. There is a DV subtext in part of it that most 11 year olds will miss. Hard to find in print, started as a webcomic, was published in 8 paperbacks, then is a hardcover Omnibus Edition (~5 pound book), currently being released again through a Kickstarter.

    5. CFandCF*

      Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland — book series with dragons as the main characters and the first several have been made into graphic novels, so they are great for reluctant readers who start with the GN and when they run out of them want to read the rest of the books.

      They are technically 8+ but there is violence because dragons (first book is more violent than the first GN). I would bet if the 11 and 13 year olds are readers they already know about them…

    6. Elenna*

      FWIW I also switched from French immersion to English at around that age and I absolutely devoured books (the switch was because I tested into a gifted school).

      That being said, I’m not great at estimating what age goes with what book (see also, 6-year-old me reading adult books about infant care because I was fascinated with babies), but:

      – for the 8-year-old, I liked the Magic Tree House series when I was a few years younger than that, so it’s probably age-appropriate for him? Short fantasy stories about visiting different time periods with a time-travelling treehouse.

      – for the 11 year old, I don’t know much about graphic novels but they might enjoy the Warrior Cats books, basically the adventures of four tribes of wild cats in the forest. I have fond memories of pretending to create a Clan with my friends in middle school. I think there are some graphic novels in that universe but not sure if they’re readable without reading at least some of the non-graphic-novel books.

      – for the 13-year-old, I don’t have anything video-game related, but I’ve been rereading the Percy Jackson series recently and remembering that they’re really quite good. Basically teenagers discovering that Greek mythology is real and saving the world. Also the author’s later books have pretty good LGBTQ representation and fairly even distribution of sexes/races among the main characters.

      1. Koifeeder*

        Warrior Cats does in fact have several graphic novels. They’re pretty good, and I think several of them would stand on their own just fine.

      2. Colette*

        Thanks! I know the family has Percy Jackson because I gave it to older siblings, but I will check out the other ones.

    7. Koifeeder*

      My dad let me get myself Dragonriders of Pern at age eight, so I’m not the greatest person to be helping here.

      Does the 13 year old like StarCraft? Timothy Zahn’s Evolution was very good, as are the Scavengers and Frontline graphic novels. You might also give Alien:Echo by Mira Grant a shot.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      My kid is currently really into “Katie the Catsitter” which is a middle grades graphic novel about a girl who teams up with a bunch of superhero cats. I think there are a couple sequels too

    9. OtterB*

      For the 8 year old, maybe Ursula Vernon’s Danny Dragonbreath or Harriet the Hamster Princess series. They are sort-of graphic novel like and work for kids at lower reading levels, but the plots and snarky humor are right on target.

      For the 11 year old who likes animals and graphic novels, maybe Rewilding: Bringing Wildlife Back Where it Belongs, by David Steen & Neon Squid. The description says ages 8-10 but I’m enjoying it as an adult. There are a bunch of two-page spreads, text and illustrations, of trying to bring wildlife back when they are endangered or their habitat has shrunk or been damaged – whooping cranes, wolves, tortoises, sturgeon, etc., etc. Fascinating stuff.

  27. Chauncy Gardener*

    What do folks like to drink with their T Day dinner?
    I am a fan of rose wine, if I’m drinking alcohol, and sparkling water if I’m not.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Yep, I got a couple bottles of Martinelli’s! I don’t like wine so that’s my go-to “fancy” drink for special occasions

        1. KatEnigma*

          If you can’t find Martinellis, Welch’s will do. But we’ve tried fancier sparkling ciders and blech.

          Unless you are in Michigan and don’t have to pay a premium to ship sparkling juices from St Julian’s winery…. Based in Frankenmuth. They used to serve kids juice tastings while the adults did wine tastings. Their peach wine is like peach syrup with a kick. Their sparkling peach cider is peach syrup with fizz. So delicious. So expensive to ship.

    1. Just a name*

      Bought a bottle of Prosecco for dinner, but after that, bourbon. Although I have an early flight on Friday, so I -should- do it in moderation. Headed to The Game on Saturday, THE Ohio State University v. (That state up north) game. Excited to get back for this for the first time since 2018. Go Bucks!

    2. Girasol*

      Non-drinker here. I’ll have tonic water with currant or elderberry syrup that we made last the summer. Tonic water gives any fruit juice a nice non-alcoholic zip.

    3. Westsidestory*

      If you can find it, Maui Blanc. It’s a pineapple wine from Hawaii. Sounds weird but it is perfect with sweet potato, cranberry sauce and a rich turkey gravy. Otherwise a richer rose from Spain or Portugal, or the old standby Pinot Noir.

      For non- drinkers, a fresh apple cider (I mean fresh, not in a bottle)

      When I cook my turkey on Friday I will be serving a dry rose from the Finger Lakes region of New York. Cheers!

    4. bratschegirl*

      Another vote for Martinelli’s on the non-alcohol side. For adult beverages, turkey is pretty versatile and pairs well with both whites and reds; one classic pairing is Beaujolais nouveau, which only comes out this time of year. We had a rosé of Pinot Noir once long ago – don’t recall the producer – and that was also delicious.

    5. PollyQ*

      Beaujolais Nouveau, which is (usually) red but I think goes nicely with turkey anyway. And it’s seasonal — just got released last week.

    6. Lcsa99*

      I am a weirdo – we like red wine so we’re drinking a red wine. Never mind all that “white wine with white meat.” :)

      We’re also making cocktails with a rose brut that we were gifted by someone who doesn’t know we don’t really like bruts or rose. If adding stuff to it doesn’t help the taste, it will at least make me happy.

  28. Filosofickle*

    I’m concerned! My family has always had extremely minimal, lowkey holidays. But my mom died, and neighbors invited us (me, dad, sibling) over. Since that will be a good way to switch things up, we’re doing that.

    I’m really concerned it’s going to be overwhelming. First, we are deep in our grief. It’s really fresh. Second, we’re all pretty solidly hermit/introvert types. I want to do this and really like the hosts but have limited capacity, especially combined with the grief. Third, none of us likes football, which they told us will be a main activity. I find just being around sports hard on my senses; it’s so loud. Fourth, there’s no solid timeline. (“I don’t have a target time for dinner. Show up sometime after 1!”) Ideally we’d go for just a couple hours — food plus a little time before/after. But now I’m afraid I”m walking into that kind of event where you’re tired and ready to flee hours before the food even appears!

    1. Filosofickle*

      My ideas so far: I am going to wear walking shoes so I can pop out for a walk. I’m also prepared to be honest with the hosts if it looks like hours to go and just say I’ll be back in a while as it’s just around the corner. I’ll also make sure I have a sweater in case sitting on the back porch seems doable to escape sports noise. I feel okay advocating for myself, not sure about Dad.

      1. WellRed*

        I think your plans to get outside are excellent! Also, if you need to step away people will understand. You just lost your mother. As to your dad, he may surprise you. I know you’ve been worried but maybe some different company is just the ticket. Sorry about the *yawn* football.

      2. BuildMeUp*

        Could you have a quick chat with your neighbor in advance to raise some of this? Just letting them know that you’re excited to come but not sure how much you’ll be up for. That may get them to at least give you a better time window for dinner, and they’ll also be aware that you may need to step out, chill in the kitchen or another quiet space, etc.

    2. looking for a new name*

      I think I would call in the morning and ask for a rough idea of when dinner will be…and just explain that you are concerned you’ll be a little overwhelmed and don’t want to feel like leaving BEFORE dinner (except better than I just said it!) Also my FIL died in December and MIL went to the neighbors for dinner and…it was good. She’s more of an extrovert, but it was nice for her to do something out of the house.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Don’t dread it so much. Prepare for breaks yes, but don’t plan to be miserable. Tell yourself that you are going to enjoy yourself instead.

    4. Squidhead*

      I’m so sorry about your mom.

      As to getting through the day, I’d suggest eating a snack before you go over to the neighbors so you’re not starving when waiting for the big meal. Nothing shrinks my ability to cope like being hungry. Also presumably the meal will not be served during The Game, so that might help you predict?

      I hope the day is gentle to both of you.

  29. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

    I swore to every god in the universe and some in the meta-verse that I wasn’t going to work tomorrow. Alas, for reasons related to weather, we are working tomorrow.

    We will get home about 3 ish after departing home at 4:00 am. My wife told her sister we are eating at my aunts and I told my aunt we are eating at my sister in law.

    Turkey wings, Bob Evans mashed potatoes and Walmart biscuits and we are set to go. We will be working among solid acquaintances, so we can commiserate together.

  30. Foot in door*

    Not specific to Thanksgiving. During family gatherings, some family member would ask me if I can refer themselves, their siblings or their friends to a job in my company. I’d be happy to give pointers and possibly refer someone to an opening, but I got annoyed by some comments such as the following:

    * “This person needs to be taught and supervised to perform tasks.” – This speaks to me as if the person does not show initiative.
    * “Can you give me a chance to learn? I will work hard.” – There’s tons of tutorials on this area you just mentioned. Why don’t you take a course and show me?
    * “Why are you so stingy?” – The response I got when I asked the person, “What do you want to do in the company?” Hell, we don’t read your mind and place people automatically.

    All of these comments told me that the people assumed that I can do magic. When I refer someone, I put my reputation in the line. Please don’t ask me to refer you to a job before you do your homework: Know what the companies do and the kind of jobs in the organizations. Ask specific questions instead of “Is it hard to get in?”

    I usually just smile and move on.

    1. Banana*

      I hate those conversations too. If they want to do something specific and I’m familiar with the job, I will talk to them about what education and experience is normal for that role, and I’ll happily refer them (not recommend, which is different). They can fill out the application and interview like everyone else. But I am not in control of handing out jobs to people, and for the jobs where I am personally hiring, I would never hire a friend or family member anyway, so that’s off the table. I usually just describe exactly what help I can offer and beyond that, get comfortable with saying no and beings blunt about it.

      1. Foot in door*

        Huh! Some of my friends saw the exact opposite: She has never been successfully refer a friend to her workplace because the managers hired someone they knew (friends or family) and skipped the pile of job applications. She was so discouraged from referring others so she stopped doing so.

        You are courageous in not hiring friends and family. Another company in town has lots of bad things came out of it. The founder/CEO’s wife is the head of HR. The CEO also hired lots of his college friends at the workplace. Nothing from HR is confidential from the CEO anymore.

    2. Qwerty*

      Can you plead not having the power to refer people? “Sorry, I don’t have any sway with hiring” or “Sorry, I’m only allowed to refer people I’ve worked with professionally” Don’t engage with specifics of what they want to do – just shut it down at the start with the whole “nothing I can do” bit.

    3. Gnome*

      If it’s a bit company, the easiest thing to do is say, “Oh, I don’t know anything about that.” Especially if you’ve been there a while. Obviously all hiring has changed since you arrived. You don’t know anything about the position, the people on the hiring committee, or what the job entails.

    4. Anono-me*

      Can you switch it from actually referring someone to just passing along their resume or asking Pat in HR Hiring to watch out for an application?

      At least, where I have worked these are two very different things. A referral means you know this person well and think they are worth sticking your neck out for.

      Passing along a resume or asking someone to watch for a specific application translates into request that someone actually spends an extra 30-45 seconds looking at the document. Anything else is on merit. (Unless it is someone that normally you would be referring; for example, if I were to pass along my BIL’s resume rather than refer him. It would be assumed that there ware “reasons” that I wasn’t referring him.)

      1. Foot in door*

        Hack! Even mentioning “passing along their resume” makes those folks to insist that I’ve the power to do something. They didn’t realize how unqualified they were!

        Family member asked me repeatedly for an intern opening from my workplace. I asked them for work samples. They could not show me any. The company usually interview students from a few top schools in the field. Family member went to a no-name school.

        Then family member got a friend to call me at work pleading for help. I insisted that I don’t have the power to hire. Then I reiterated the qualifications of the candidates are great that none of them who were invited to the interview barely possessed the minimum (academic achievements, extra-curricular activities, personal projects, past work experience…). We simply would not interview someone who said plainly, “I don’t know what I want to do. Just teach me to do something.”

        I never offered anyone to even pass on their resume unless they obviously qualified for the job. In addition, I’d talk about job stuff in private. Job related convos can hurt others. I prefer to keep peace in family gatherings.

  31. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    What are vegeterians making for Thanksgiving? Our tradition for the past few years has been: pesto ravioli, garlic green beans, sweet potatoes, canned cranberry sauce with the lines on the side reminiscent of my childhood and apple pie. Every year we are so full that the apple pie ends up being Friday breakfast instead. My teen makes the pesto.

    1. Talia*

      Black pepper tofu (cf. Ottolenghi or Smitten Kitchen), cornbread stuffing with vege sausage, Brussels sprouts with kimchi, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin cheesecake. It’s just the two of us so we can suit ourselves.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m doing a pot pie with mushrooms and butternut squash – my family eats meat but none of our guests do, so we have the smallest serving of turkey I could find and everything else will be vegan.

    3. KatStat*

      I am making a lentil loaf and we will have mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, cranberry sauce and vegan pumpkin pie. And I think maybe a sweet potato dish. I am only in charge of the lentil loaf and rolls so not exactly sure of all the other dishes.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I used to host a big Friendsgiving every year and my most popular entree for the vegetarians (or non-turkey eaters) over the years was a spinach and mushroom lasagne. Spinach artichoke macaroni and cheese with sun dried tomatoes was also popular.

    5. Frankie Bergstein*

      -store bought plant based Turkey, gravy, and roasts
      -baked / roasted veggies
      -macaroni and cheese
      -mashed potatoes
      -garlicky kale
      -a martini variation :)

    6. Might Be Spam*

      My daughter is making stuffing, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, potato and leek gratin, and a cranberry curd tart for dessert (with backup pumpkin pie in case we don’t like it).

      Also, white wine and rolls, and some flavored goat cheese rolls for a small appetizer.

      I’m making Baba Ghanoush (first time so I hope it works) to serve with carrots and celery and a red cabbage & apple salad.

    7. Princess Deviant*

      I like a roast dinner for xmas ( don’t celebrate thanksgiving) – the same as everyone else has except for the meat. Instead, I make a walnut pate in pastry like a beef wellington. I use Rose Elliott’s recipe which I have tweaked over the years (it’s ‘walnut pate en croute’ if you wanted to google it). Everything else is the same typical fare – cranberry sauce, roasties, green beans, some other veg (usually Brussels sprouts), pickled red cabbage, gravy, stuffing, and I buy veggie ‘pigs’ in blankets. Sometimes my ma does Yorkshire puddings too but I don’t eat those.

  32. IsbenTakesTea*

    For any of you Friendsgiving fans out there, one of my favorite etymologies is that
    is a with+bread+person, or a person you break bread with. I hope you all have a merry companioning tomorrow!

  33. Clisby*

    We decided to stay home for Thanksgiving this year, so four of us (me, my husband, our son, and my brother) will have dinner together. I opted for the Whole Foods cooked turkey, dressing, and gravy, and will make a couple of sides. Plus rolls. Not that I will make the rolls – the Sister Shubert Parker-House style yeast rolls you can buy in the freezer section of the grocery store are really good. Our daughter will be having Thanksgiving with extended family in Georgia, which I know will be great – I just wasn’t up for traveling this year.

    1. OtterB*

      I love the Sister Shubert rolls. I just found them a few years ago, and will miss them now that my daughter has had to go gluten-free.

  34. Amber Rose*

    Thanksgiving was last month, so alas, tomorrow is a regular day. That said.

    We’re doing Zoo Lights – Adult Edition tonight! Every year from early November to mid-January the zoo does an elaborate lights display. Tonight is basically the same as the other nights except everyone is over 18 and there’s alcohol. :D

    For us, this signals the true start of the holiday season. Decorating starts up on Saturday. Between that and all the charity events and party planning I’ve been doing, this is the first year in a long time that I’ve really been excited about the holidays.

    1. Macaroni Penguin*

      Have a fun time at Zoolights!
      I volunteer at a prairie province located Zoo during the holiday season.
      Perhaps this is the same event.

    2. londonedit*

      Just a normal day here, too – we don’t do a Thanksgiving of any sort. Only a month until Christmas, though!

      The zoo sounds fab – London Zoo does (did? Not sure if it was a victim of Covid) a summer Zoo Lates evening thing after their usual closing time, which sounds similar and is really fun. Adults only, lots time to look around the zoo without it being too crowded, and food and booze available!

  35. Victoria, Please*

    I am planning to retire the summer of 2025, and one of the retirement treats is going to be traveling in the *second* week of November and then well after Thanksgiving weekend, to spend the holiday with my family at the other end of the continent. I have had a firm no-air-travel-at-Thanksgiving policy for years, so this will be a really nice way to celebrate retirement.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      Everyone I know who retired from teaching, always took their first holiday during the first week of September, when the new term had started.

  36. Very Angsty Holiday This Year*

    Spouse and I are staying with a family member while we wait for a new home. It is super generous of the family member to let us stay with them, but they are extremely odd. They constantly rail against the Thanksgiving traditions along with just about everything else – it’s getting old. We aren’t going to prepare any of the traditional foods because we just don’t want to hear their opinions about it. I am grateful I have enough to eat, a warm bed to sleep in, etc., but this person is a real downer to live with.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Can you buy their silence with home-baked brownies (or really good ones from the retailer of your choice)? Seems to me that most folks will be happy to eat brownies unless they are totally opposed to eating refined sugar. You can get fair-trade cocoa powder if you think that your family member would be appreciative.

      Or maybe they like apple pie, or barbecue, or a great cup of coffee? Or a super-spic-and-span tidy kitchen? In other words, is there anything that makes this person happy? Find it and do it as long as it doesn’t involve bank robbery or any other blatantly misguided actions.

      And sympathies to you! They sound awfully tough to live with.

    2. Frankie Bergstein*

      Is it possible to do conversational redirects so that you don’t have to hear the rant? Or do a gray rock?

    3. Very Angsty Holiday This Year*

      Thanks for the suggestions! Anything food/beverage/resembles a gift is out. No sugar or animal products, either. They subscribe to an aesthetic of living like they are poor (but they aren’t). Conversational redirects is an excellent idea, but the convos are one-sided. Gray rock method is the best idea – will try it!

  37. Alex*

    Looking for something new to listen to on my Thanksgiving drive (about 8 hours round trip). Suggestions? I like podcasts that are heavily produced–not just some guy or guys blabbing with each other. True crime, comedy, history, science, anything really well done. Also open to great audiobooks that are short, or even great driving music.

    1. Aisling*

      If you liked the tv show “The Office”, there’s a great podcast called Office Ladies that’s put on by Jenna Fischer (Pam on the show) and Angela Kinsey (Angela on the show). They rewatch each episode and dissect it- here’s what the writers were thinking, here’s the research they did, here’s how it was to act in the scenes, and other background tidbits. It’s amazingly well done and they’ve won podcast awards for it.

      1. Dicey Tillerman*

        They did this for “The West Wing” too! The podcast is called The West Wing Weekly! The hosts are Joshua Malina (who played Will Bailey on the show), and Hrishi Hirway, who also hosts a few other really cool podcasts.

    2. Dark Macadamia*


      I don’t think “Daisy Jones and the Six” was the greatest story-wise (3 stars out of 5) but it’s a fantastic full cast production that makes it really feel like a true oral history.

      “How to Be Perfect” by Mike Schur is a fun listen if you’re a fan of The Good Place (or actually, the podcast for the show would be good too!).

      My favorites I’ve listened to this year were “The Paragon Hotel” and “The Tumbling Turner Sisters” – both historical fiction that are excellent stories AND narrations.

      “The Sun is Also a Star” and “They Both Die at the End” are great YAs with multiple actors for the narrators.

    3. Eyes Kiwami*

      Radiolab is heavily edited and produced. The older episodes are fluffier/lighter than the newer ones. Mostly pop science and interesting journalistic stories.

    4. Workerbee*

      I grab old time radio series from archive dot org and other places. Jack Benny, Burns & Allen, Our Miss Brooks, etc. Lovely travels back in time, and easy to skip among episodes, too.

    5. Pippa K*

      Someone here recommended the radio comedy Cabin Pressure, and I love it. Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephanie Cole, and Roger Allam in the cast, all hilarious. I found all the episodes on the Internet Archive and listen to them on long trips.

    6. Frankie Bergstein*

      What about By the Book, where two women live by a self-help book for two weeks and talk about it?

    7. MugShot Coffee*

      I’m currently listening intently to Something Was Wrong. A true crime podcast. It’s compelling.

    8. Helvetica*

      Not sure what you consider heavily produced but I always recommend Off Menu – two British comedians (Ed Gamble and James Acaster) have guests over at their “magical restaurant” where the guest will talk through their favourite starter, main course, side dish, dessert and drink, and some general food-related stuff. It is funny, and very intriguing to listen to some people’s food opinions, which can be baffling (Claudia Winkleman doesn’t drink water! Ever!)

    9. just another queer reader*

      Podcasts: I’ve found that anything from NPR is high-quality and interesting!

      “It’s Been a Minute” (pop culture, Black & queer culture), “The Moth” (storytelling), and “Radio Ambulante” (if you understand Spanish) are some of my favorites.

      Oh, and seconding Radiolab. There’s also “Science Friday.”

    10. just another queer reader*

      Audiobook: I recently read a delightful, cozy short novel called “A Psalm for the Wild-Built.” It’s about a young man finding his place in the world; the world is a futuristic one in which humans coexist peacefully with the planet.

      Anyway, I haven’t listened to the audiobook specifically but it’s 4 hours long and I bet it would be a goddamn delight.

      Bon voyage!

    11. Forensic13*

      The BBC did some full-cast dramatizations of Agatha Christie books (they’re labeled that way and are usually between 1-2 hours long as opposed to 6) that are great if you like Agatha Christie. They’re basically radio plays rather than audiobooks, though they’re labeled as such on things like Libby.

  38. Alex*

    Seeking a good movie or show to watch with my family. All adults, but still must be “family friendly” because my mom is a huge prude. No sex, excessive foul language, etc. This eliminates….well almost everything I usually watch lol. Suggestions?

      1. Freddy*

        So you don’t want to listen to My Dad Wrote a Porno, then?? I KEED, I KEED…how about Junior Bake Off on Netflix? Super charming, and none of the forced sexual innuendos of the regular version…

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Isn’t part of it how Cher tries to get a guy in bed and it turns out he’s gay? Not to mention the cafe discussion about losing their virginity.

        I think OP’s gonna have to watch a cheesy unrealistic Hallmark movie!

    1. looking for a new name*

      Following, as my friend’s parents live with her and prefer to watch G or PG type things (and even as adults, it can be weird to watch some things with your parents!). The last two seasons of PBS’s All Creatures Great and Small? I was reminded in the paper today of an old movie – Hugo – that’s quite good.

    2. SoCal Kate*

      I love Pixar’s movies which are family friendly while also being fun to watch. Some of my favorites are Monsters, Inc, The Incredibles, and Brave.

    3. SpellingBee*

      Recently saw Free Guy which was unexpectedly funny and charming! I also love Coco and Inside Out, both animated movies but two of my favorites.

    4. Workerbee*

      Go classy with classics – fun movies from the mid-1930s, and 1940s.
      Some are even available on Youtube and archive dot org, where all you need is a large monitor or an HDMI cord to hook up a laptop to your TV. Others should be relatively easy to get.

      Movies like…
      “His Girl Friday” (Cary Grant & Rosalind Russell)
      “I Know Where I’m Going” (Wendy Hiller & Roger Livesey)
      “I Was an Adventuress” (Vera Zorina, Richard Greene, Erich von Stroheim, and Peter Lorre – in a wonderfully comic role)

      1. Islay*

        I Know Where I’m Going is a favorite… When we visited Scotland a must was Mull… Stayed in the Western Isles hotel… Had quite an adventure in our quest to see the “castle” depicted in the film….

      2. Nitpicker*

        I love “I Know Where I’m Going”. And while we are talking about Wendy Hiller, the movie of “Pygmalion” (source for “My Fair Lady”) with Wendy Hiller and Leslie Howard is also wonderful. (She’s also in “Major Barbara” with an incredibly young Rex Harrison but that’s kind of preachy.)

    5. OtterB*

      When my kids were young teens, we went on a kick of watching the old Disney live action movies. That Darn Cat (the original), The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit, The Ugly Dachsund, etc. They were fun but very clean.

    6. Retired Accountant*

      Abbott Elementary is very good if you are looking for a show. It’s on Hulu or probably on demand through a cable provider.

      1. just another queer reader*

        This is a great idea! I love this show, and only just realized that it has almost no sex/ swearing/ etc. There are some romantic plotlines, but the most “scandalous” it gets is referencing that two people live together, or that someone is jealous. A few mentions of drinking, but very in passing.

        Go watch Abbott Elementary! It’s hilarious!

      2. Bluebell*

        I came here to suggest Abbott Elementary too. Such an awesome show, and very family friendly. The very latest episode had two adult words but in a worthwhile context.

    7. Not in your timezone*

      Would some tame murder mysteries suit her? Death in paradise or Father Brown? Doc Martin is stunningly boring but also inoffensive in that there is no sex, swearing or ‘themes’.

    8. Angstrom*

      “The Dish”. Lovely gentle comedy about a tracking station in Australia during the first moon mission.

    9. Clisby*

      Knives Out? It’s been awhile since I watched it, so not sure whether it’s prude-safe. It’s rated PG-13.

      1. I need a new name...*

        There’s a reference to masturbating to the third reich at one point I think? But I’m pretty sure it’s a throwaway line in multi-person shouting match.

    10. SarahKay*

      Many many years ago in the UK one of the channels showed most of the Fred Astaire / Ginger Rogers movies over Christmas, two a day for about a week, and my parents and I got hooked on tap-dancing and signed up for tap-dancing classes the next year.
      They’re only about 80 minutes long so not demanding of your time, very light, and I still find them funny when I re-watch today.

    11. Fiction reader*

      Hunt for the Wilderpeople is delightful. A little swearing and a couple of hunting scenes with blood, but my mom still found it delightful, as has everyone I have watched it with.

    12. Nitpicker*

      The classic movie for the run-up to Christmas-“Miracle on 34th Street”. It even starts with Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

    13. Alex*

      Thanks for all the suggestions! Now to convince my family to stop with the prying conversations and inquiries and just sit quietly and watch something.

    14. Been There*

      I think most kdramas would fit that bill (except Squid Game). I loved Crash Landing on You, which I think is on Netflix.

  39. Greengirl*

    We welcomed our second child to the world on Saturday. My mom is with us to help and my in laws are bringing over the meal to us, all pre ordered from Wegman’s. We feel very thankful this year and are deep in the “ let me just stare at you” newborn love haze.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy and may all involved be healthy and get enough sleep! And hugs to your older child (if he/she wants them) and your mom and in-laws (ditto)!

  40. time for cocoa*

    I was unable to purchase cranberry wine today, which is a tradition my mom and I love for Thanksgiving. Not a big deal in the scheme of things for sure, but the liquor store clerk told me it was due to a cranberry shortage. I then left the liquor store and drove directly to the grocery store, where I was immediately confronted by a giant pyramid display of cranberry sauce. LOL.

    Lack of wine aside, I think it will become a drinking game to go home and take a shot every time a retail employee blames something on supply chain issues. (No shame, dealing with customers sucks, and I would do the same!)

    1. Just a name*

      Maybe a little cranberry juice in some sparkling wine? A couple of frozen cranberries as garnish?

      1. Bagpuss*

        tht could well be it – may well be more demand for the canned kind making that the focus (or wine takes longer and the actual shortge was last year or the year before)

    2. Lcsa99*

      Too late for today, but for future reference Tomasello winery still has their cranberry wine and they usually ship really cheap! (At least for a winery). Just make sure to get the cranberry wine and not cranberry Moscato.

      1. time for cocoa*

        That is literally the brand I always buy! Not a single store in my state has it right now, they checked the computer for me.

  41. Girasol*

    What unusual dish is traditional for your family Thanksgiving? My mom made all the usual stuff but one of my grandfathers insisted on oyster dressing – bread stuffing with canned smoked oysters in it – and creamed turnips. What about your family?

    1. Just a name*

      We used to host a Friendsgiving where one guy always brought his family’s traditional rutabaga casserole. Not yummy but everyone tried it at least.

    2. Pucci*

      We had dumplings instead of mashed potatoes. And sweet-and-sour cabbage. Immigrant influences, even though we were all born in the US

      1. Clisby*

        We always have rice for Thanksgiving – not mashed potatoes. This is not particularly unusual in my part of the US South, but I’m under the impression it’s not so common in a lot of places in the country.

    3. SnickersKat*

      A couple years ago we switched from pumpkin pie to pumpkin dump cake. It was way easier to make, and everyone liked the taste of it better, so we stuck with it. We still have apple and/or pecan pie too, but no longer have pumpkin pie.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I don’t think it’s unusual in terms of culture/food history but the concept is baffling – we have a specific jello salad that we always do, and it’s served as a side during dinner. Our version is Crown Jewel Dessert which is just cubes of 3 different types of jello suspended in a 4th type of jello mixed with cool whip.

        1. Not William Bilcom*

          This brought the song. “Lime jello, marshmallow, cottage cheese surprise!” immediately to mind. Thank you.

    5. Rara Avis*

      First courses: all the Italian meats and cheeses and pickled things
      Second course: ravioli
      Then all the traditional turkey stuff

  42. SnickersKat*

    I need a reality check please.

    I was volunteering at my kid’s school on Monday and after the kids left, I was saying my goodbyes and wished one of the other volunteers a happy Thanksgiving. She proceeded to give me a nasty look, said”oh, people celebrate that as a holiday?” and I was totally taken aback. I stammered something about I know not everyone celebrates all holidays and she proceeded to tell me she’s going to a semi local event in solidarity with Native Americans.

    Was I wrong to say happy Thanksgiving or was she overly aggressive? I wouldn’t want to make someone uncomfortable with Wishing someone a happy (pick your religious holiday), and my area is extremely diverse so I am hyper aware of this, but I thought I was safe to wish someone a happy Thanksgiving. I will definitely modify my ways if I did something wrong, but I was shocked to be looked at as a horrible person for celebrating a holiday I thought was all about gratitude.

    1. kr*

      No, that is ridiculous. It’s very normal to wish people a happy Thanksgiving. And ”oh, people celebrate that as a holiday?” is snarky, of course she knows most people do.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Yeah that’s the part that gets me. “I don’t celebrate it” or “thanks but for me it’s just Thursday” or even something about how Thanksgiving is racist/oppressive would have been fine but pretending you don’t know anyone celebrates a major holiday as a holiday? Come on.

    2. Westsidestory*

      I’m sorry someone tried to ruin your day! And so deliberately…

      That person was rude to you, wanting to pick a fight or just spoiling for an opportunity to show how enlightened and woke they are compared. It is entirely possible to put forward a point of view without trying to belittle a stranger.

      I think it is also possible to do Thanksgiving without the pilgrim/Indian schtick. Heck, look how many people avoid the turkey part! Every culture has some form of harvest festival, and the US National Holiday was created as a day of gratitude – to give thanks either to one’s higher power or to nature itself for all the gifts we are given, and to gather meaningfully with others.

      What I have always liked about thanksgiving is that it doesn’t have to be religious, it doesn’t really have a set menu, it doesn’t even have to involve actual relatives let alone historical figures.

      I suppose the only polite response back would have been “well enjoy your day off!”

      Forget this jerk and enjoy the holiday!
      Happy thanksgiving to you!

    3. Frankie Bergstein*

      I will say “the federal holiday” or “your day off” or something like that — this is a holiday that highlights an immensely painful history. I haven’t had anyone call me out on it — they get what I’m saying. I believe my well-wish comes across.

    4. Irish Teacher.*

      Strikes me as kind of “virtue signalling” on her part. Like she was trying to show she’s so much more aware of the issues than you. Of course, she may have friends who are Native American or other reasons to be very aware of the holiday being potentially upsetting, but…seeming surprised that people celebrate it makes me think this is more about making herself seem superior.

      1. londonedit*

        I agree. She could have just said ‘Oh, thank you but I don’t celebrate it’. Or she could very easily just have said ‘Thanks’ or ‘Hope you have a good day’ or nothing at all. The fact that she chose to be weirdly aggressive about it suggests to me like she was doing it to appear superior. And it was unnecessarily rude.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          My issue wasn’t at all with the fact that she doesn’t or with the fact that she has a problem with genocide. I never said I didn’t have a problem with it personally. What makes me think that she is virtue signaling rather than really concerned about the history of Thanksgiving is that she is pretending not to know that other people do celebrate it.

          I’m sorry if it came across as if I were saying that being offended by Thanksgiving was virtue signalling. I don’t think that at all and perhaps I phrased it badly because I was rushing. It was the pretence that “oh, I didn’t know there were people who have a different opinion than me on this” that made it seem a bit fake and like she was more concerned about how she looked than about the actual issue.

          I generally see the term as critical of those who act like they care about progressive issues while speaking over those who are actually affected by them. If it is used as a dog whistle in ways I am not familiar with, then I do apologise.

          And of course, I have no way of knowing whether or not the person in question genuinely cares and if it weren’t for that fake-surprise, I would probably assume she was being genuine, but that made me feel like she was more concerned with projecting an image.

          1. londonedit*

            Yeah, I was also unaware of any other meaning of ‘virtue signalling’, except to mean that someone is trying to make themselves appear superior by claiming to know it all about a particular issue. Especially in a snarky/smug way – like ‘Oh, I suppose you’ll enjoy your Christmas dinner while children are STARVING in AFRICA’. I also don’t know all of the ins and outs and cultural difficulties around American Thanksgiving, not having grown up in or experienced that tradition. I just think that if this woman wanted to get her – valid – point across about the troubling side of the day, she could very easily have said something polite like ‘Thanks, but I find the history of Thanksgiving troubling so I don’t celebrate’ or ‘Oh, I’m not celebrating because I don’t like the racist history of the holiday’. She didn’t have to do the whole ‘People actually *celebrate* that??!!!’ thing when she knows very well that yes, people do celebrate it for various reasons.

  43. Cheap ass (gender) rolls*

    What does it feel like to not feel like you need to clean the house before hosting?? I can’t imagine seeing someone else cleaning in my own home and just sit around doing nothing -_- I was the one who wanted to host but jeez.

    1. Westsidestory*

      Seriously you really only need to clean the guest bathroom…Dim the lights, use a lot of candles. Make a centerpiece incorporating fresh lemons, prick them all over with a needle to release the lemon scent. People will think you spent hours polishing the furniture and doing the floors. :)

  44. Disgruntled pixel pusher*

    I’m scrambling to finish annual holiday calendars to buy on black Friday. Vistaprint changed their calendar maker interface and it’s infuriating. This is usually a fun project I look forward to every year and now it’s not… ugh.

    1. Not my usual name*

      Thank you! You’ve just given me an idea for my so-hard-to-buy-for partner

      Let’s see if I can wrangle the interface (I use InDesign at work, nothing scares me!)

      1. Anonymous pixel pusher*

        Not yet maybe next time since I already started. It’s not hard just annoying because I like to heavily customize mine.

        1. Anonymous pixel pusher*

          Also not my usual name, you’re very welcome. My calendar started the same way and now I make them for the whole family. The black Friday deals are really good and it’s pretty reasonably priced.

  45. Princess Deviant*

    I like a roast dinner for xmas ( don’t celebrate thanksgiving) – the same as everyone else has except for the meat. Instead, I make a walnut pate in pastry like a beef wellington. I use Rose Elliott’s recipe which I have tweaked over the years (it’s ‘walnut pate en croute’ if you wanted to google it). Everything else is the same typical fare – cranberry sauce, roasties, green beans, some other veg (usually Brussels sprouts), pickled red cabbage, gravy, stuffing, and I buy veggie ‘pigs’ in blankets. Sometimes my ma does Yorkshire puddings too but I don’t eat those.

  46. Alexander Graham Yell*

    Blow dry your turkey. Blow dry your turkey. Thank me later and blow. dry. your. turkey.

      1. Alexander Graham Yell*

        The skin gets SO crispy and brown. I’ve never been a fan of the skin but it turns out it can be crispy and glorious and all it takes is a couple of minutes with the hair dryer after you pat it dry. Once I started doing this my turkeys looked like they’re straight out of a 1950s holiday card, no joke.

        1. Alexander Graham Yell*

          Usually I’d dry brine, then keep it uncovered in the fridge the night before, then pull it out, and pat it dry. Then the skin gets a butter/olive oil combo, some additional fresh herbs, and a boat load of citrus, garlic, and rosemary shoved in the cavity. Baste regularly, and boom. Turkey.

          The year I started blow drying it is the year life changed forever. And now OF COURSE my family is skeptical since I’m not there to cook the turkey for them and they’re fighting me on it and I just need to know that somebody is getting that glorious crispy turkey skin.

  47. Invisible fish*

    Does anyone else feel like clarifying “When I do something for ‘Thanksgiving,’ I am not celebrating a false narrative created by colonizers to justify oppression of indigenous peoples – I am spending time with loved ones and celebrating those relationships”? Or is that just me? I’m so bothered by so many things related to traditional Thanksgiving, but I choose to take this time to be with family because they are important to me. Ugh.

    1. just another queer reader*

      I’m trying to think through this myself.

      Thanksgiving is an important holiday for my family. This year, I’m spending the day with family and enjoying the food and company.

      I think that for next year, I want to figure out a way to take it a step further than simply not using racist decorations. I might see if there’s something I can do to actively combat the cultural narrative, or support indigenous neighbors.

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Someone was like it’s not thanksgiving it’s black people eating good day and I laughed and agreed ( I am black )

    3. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

      I think – as someone whose roots are intimately tied with the “traditional” Thanksgiving – that being aware of the holiday’s history and consciously moving away from that towards celebrating relationships with loved one of any stripe isn’t problematic at all. We have so few occasions now where friends and family (both by blood and by choice) sit down around a table and enjoy a good meal simply for the sake of communion. We should take every opportunity we can to do so.

      That having been said, clarifying your position to someone who appears to be knee-jerk anti-Thanksgiving couldn’t hurt, but there’s no need to repeatedly do so if they keep up the dismissive attitude. They can go get their cranberry sauce at someone else’s table.

  48. frida*

    As an American who has lived/worked abroad for most of her adult life, it’s the annual ‘do Americans really put marshmallows on sweet potatoes?’ discussion. Europeans are weirdly fascinated and horrified by this practice! I guess they see it on American TV and need to know if it’s real, lol

    1. Alexander Graham Yell*

      Hahahah I said something about this a few weeks ago, and my coworker said, “Wait wait, no, go back. You’re not just going to say something about marshmallows on sweet potatoes and just go by that like it’s NORMAL. You do W H A T to your sweet potatoes? Did anybody else know about this?!?”

      1. KatEnigma*

        Some do. It’s not universal. It likely was some weird thing that started in the 1940’s/50’s like other weird things like tomato soup jello with green peas.

        I really don’t like it and have never liked it, not even as a kid in the 1970’s. Sometime in the 1990’s my mom found this recipe for a sweet potato casserole with maple syrup and nuts and spices that’s okay. It’s kind of a cross of sweet and savory.

      2. Clisby*

        Oh, yes. At least, marshmallows on top of sweet potato casserole. I’ve never heard of anyone putting marshmallows on top of a regular baked, split, sweet potato.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I have to admit as a non-US person I am prepared to believe people do it, becuase there are many, many, weird and wonderful things people do with food, and some bizarre sounding combinations do work, although I don’t personally think this one would for me.
      But, well, do you? Is it common?
      (also, if you do, is it then a side dish with the turkey or is it a dessert?)

    3. londonedit*

      I could vaguely get on board with the notion if it was a dessert – pumpkin pie and carrot cake exist, after all – but from what I understand it’s actually eaten alongside the main savoury dishes? Which I think is what makes it sound utterly and completely bizarre to our ears. With the exception of things like fruit chutney and cheese, and cranberry sauce with turkey/apple sauce with pork, we have far less of a sweet/savoury food tradition than (parts of?) the USA. We still find bacon with pancakes and maple syrup to be quite an odd combo (though it’s now very common at trendy brunch places).

      1. Lily of the Valley*

        “ from what I understand it’s actually eaten alongside the main savoury dishes?”

        That is what makes it weird to me, too. Sweet potato pie is a thing, similar to pumpkin pie, although I don’t believe they put marshmallows on the sweet potato pie. I could be wrong about that. So these sweet potatoes that I have heard of with marshmallows on top don’t seem weird as a dessert. They seem truly weird as a side dish, though. However, lots of places have sweet things that they refer to as salads that they serve as a side dish. I am thinking of Jell-O salads and various fruit salads that are actually very very sweet and might even have marshmallows. I have no experience with those, either. So maybe sweet side dishes are kind of just an American thing?

        If maple syrup and bacon weirds you out, look up chicken and waffles. :-)

    4. just another queer reader*

      My family doesn’t do this but I’m sure others do.

      My personal Hot Take on traditional Thanksgiving food is that much of it comes from the ~1950s school of cooking. Jello anything; two whole sticks of butter in every dish; questionable decisions with seasoning; etc.

      (as a side note, Samin Nosrat wisely observed that the traditional Thanksgiving meal consists of a ton of heavy/ buttery dishes and almost no acid to balance it out! Cranberry sauce is really the only thing. She suggested making a salsa to balance out the other flavors.)

      1. Alexander Graham Yell*

        This is making me realize why the kale salad with lemon dressing was so refreshing the year we made it. Hmmmm…..

    5. SarahKay*

      I (from the UK) was visiting friends in the US and went for a meal out. I ordered sweet potato fries and they came with a whitish looking dip. I assumed it was mayonnaise and offered it to my friends as I’m very much Not-A-Fan of mayo. One of them said that actually, it might be marshmallow dip, so I tried it and they were correct. It was fabulous.
      As a result I am converted to the idea of marshmallows with sweet potatoes, even if it isn’t something I’d cook myself.

    6. Invisible fish*

      It is very much a thing!! Our mashed sweet potatoes will be covered with a layer of marshmallows, then put in the over so the marshmallows become soft and melty. Marshmallows are kept in reserve so that I, personally, may add more to mine!!!

    7. HBJ*

      On a sweet potato casserole-y thing for Thanksgiving or Christmas, yes. Otherwise, no. My grandma always made it, and we loved it.

    8. Lily of the Valley*

      I’m an American who has lived in the US her whole life, and I think it’s kind of weird and I don’t think I’ve seen it in real life. My Anglo family didn’t eat sweet potatoes, and neither did any of my Cuban American friends. None of my varied friends in adulthood have served me that dish, although some of them say they love it. One of my friends was weirded out when I piled salsa on top of a sweet potato.

    9. Alex*

      Yes it is certainly a thing! But…it’s a sweet potato casserole, in which the sweet potatoes are mashed up with other stuff, put in a dish, then marshmallows are put on top and so they melt and brown as a sort of crust/topping to the casserole. It’s not like we dump raw marshmallows on top of a baked sweet potato!

      My family doesn’t make this anymore but when my grandmother was alive and cooking Thanksgiving dinner she did make it. I like it as long as it doesn’t have orange juice in it, which some recipes do.

    10. Kayem*

      Apparently it’s popular where I now live. I can’t stand it, though I’m not a fan of sweet potatoes to begin with. My parents always used pears, but I haven’t seen that elsewhere. Then again, I don’t go to many Thanksgiving dinners since it’s my least favorite holiday.

    11. WorkingRachel*

      Yes, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top is a very normal thing to eat at Thanksgiving. I’ve been to many Thanksgiving gatherings where it was served. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten it myself, as I hate sweet potatoes.

    12. AlabamaAnonymous*

      I live in the American south (Alabama), and yes sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and often pecans is a very common Thanksgiving dish here. Everyone agrees it’s very sweet, but people still love it!

  49. Westsidestory*

    Gardening thread! I am of the camp that celebrates Thanksgiving as a harvest festival – a long tradition from my family’s roots.
    What will you be serving from your garden to your table? I will be using the last red tomatoes from the garden. Plus the rosemary, chives and parsley from the herb patch.
    We had a first frost this week, so that’s really the end of the season. Those in warmer zones – what you got?

  50. Extranonymous*

    If you say dinner is at 4:30 because you let the guests pick the time and they don’t show until almost 6 and you have cranky hungry toddlers in the mix…

  51. Kayem*

    My holiday angst this week is that I can’t sleep in. I know, I know, petty complaint. But my spouse was home sick with COVID for two weeks, then I had to spend several days driving 900 miles to a meeting that could have been done over email, then immediately entertain my visiting mother-in-law upon my return. I’ve been short on sleep this entire time, so I was really looking forward to having this four day weekend to maybe sleep past 7 and lounge about in my pajamas and read, watch tv, play games, and just generally veg.

    But my brother-in-law decided last minute that his family was going to be gone the entire time and had no one else to call at short notice to feed the cows, pigs, and chickens on their farm. And so due to a combination of guilt and wanting to continue getting free eggs, I agreed.

    And that is why every day I’ve had to get up at 5am to drive 20 minutes to take care of livestock in the almost-freezing rain, then do it again right before dark, coming home each time covered in mud and poop.

    I’m trying to keep my body’s clock on work time as much as possible, so I’m still sleep deprived. I told them if they weren’t home Saturday night as planned, the beasts are just going to have to make due with a late brunch instead of breakfast.

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