Let’s Celebrate Like It’s 1621

Last week, My Husband’s oldest sister sent an email announcing that she and her husband were flying in from Texas for Thanksgiving and would be hosting at my in-laws house. Very kind of her, as my Mother-in-Law will be undergoing surgery 9, yes NINE days prior to Thanksgiving.  For the record, I adore my sister-in-law and her husband.  As an educator and experienced mother, she is a vat of advice when it comes to my own children.  However, I felt it only fair that in turn, I prepare her for what will be expected of her on Thanksgiving day. I have spent the last 12 years hosting and dining with my in-laws, so I feel a little like the family guru here.  Yes, yes, very presumptuous of me to give a woman advice when it comes to her own parents, but it is necessary in this case.  A little back story on my sister-in-law…If there was a trophy for health nut, she’d win it. A vegan who wakes up at 4 am EVERY SINGLE DAY to excercise before heading to school.  She is also perhaps the most perpetually cheerful person I have ever met.  So really, she is unlike any of the rest of us who share in her former last name.

The Title of my Email:  “You may decide to have a cocktail after you read this… I know it’s been 30 years, but THANKSGIVING IS UPON US!”


Dearest Sister-in-Law,

I think it’s best I make a list of your parents’ peccadilloes concerning Thanksgiving. After the first Thanksgiving I hosted (and subsequently cried myself to sleep on the cold tiles of my bathroom floor), I have learned MANY, MANY lessons that will behoove you later this month.

I really look forward to spending Thanksgiving with you all, but know in advance that the thought of being under your Mother’s watch, in her kitchen, 9 days post-op, already has me in hives. I don’t resort to drinking at breakfast often, but know that the Bailey’s will be free flowing into my Dunkin Turbo on the morning of the 27th. This is my official disclaimer.


Seeing that I only have Fiestaware and your Grandmother Lily’s unacceptable Franciscan dinnerware, Your Mother will insist on breaking out her VERY fancy china and silver. (Pls note, my children are not allowed to eat off of such finery. She keeps Mickey Mouse plasticware plates in her pantry. They also are only allowed to drink out of sippy cups at her house.  Yes, I know The Oldest is 9.) All napkins and placemats must be linen and pressed.  Starched, really, if you must know.  She prefers the Niagra Spray Starch, which is only sold at the larger Grocery stores. I have placemats and napkins, but they are only from Pier One. I suspect Your Mother will want to use her own. A kid table will have to be set up- far, far away from the grownups. Maybe outside. Yes, I will be at the kid table.


Your Mother likes Bogle Petite Syrah, Your Father prefers Reisling or Alsace with his turkey dinner. All must be chilled. She will want to drink out of her Wedgewood etched crystal goblets. I have extras she gave me as a birthday present one year.


The most sensitive part of the meal. As Your Brother and I still consider ourselves Sort-Of-Southern, we love fried turkey. Shockingly, Your Mother does not. We fry a turkey every year, and yet, an additional “normal” turkey must be baked in the oven. Recall that 1st Thanksgiving with your family that I mentioned that almost had me in therapy? I had purchased some fancy turkey spices from Williams-Sonoma. Your Mother almost assaulted me snatching it out of my hands and forbidding me to put it on her turkey. She only seasons turkey  with salt and pepper and Hungarian paprika.  Pure Hungarian paprika, that is.  No paprika extract acceptable. No Giant/Acme/Wegman’s store brand will work.  The turkey MUST be fresh, too. She will know if it is purchased frozen and thawed. Trust me, we tried this in 2004.


Mashed Potatoes- They must be NORMAL. Specifically, the potatoes must be Russet! (Remind me to tell you a Thanksgiving story circa 2007 in Tallahassee, Florida where we had YUKON GOLD mashed potatoes. With cream. Cream! Can you imagine?  No, you can’t and you can’t imagine Your Mother’s reaction.  I believe it was her first potato-less Thanksgiving dinner, ever.)  The milk must be whole!  And room temperature! The butter must be plentiful and salted!

Stuffing- It, too, must be NORMAL. Luckily, My Mother’s recipe is nearly identical to Your Mother’s, so she will always eat my stuffing. Addtionally, I use Sunbeam white bread- in all it’s refined flour, gluten glory. I know, I know. Can you believe supermarkets still sell this crap?

Sweet Potatoes- Turns out, only Your Father and I eat sweet potatoes. As I mentioned, I used to spend hours cooking, peeling, mashing these delights to create my own casserole. I found one loophole- your Dad doesn’t know the difference between my homeade sweet potatoes and the ones I order from Fresh Market. I just add my custom crumble topping. Caveat- too much is a no-no, and marshmallows are VERBOTTEN.

Green Things- Your Father requires cole slaw or green beans.  Last year, I made a fun slaw salad with tangy dressing and cranberries and almost got kicked out of my own house.

Corn- I have a lovely corn souffle recipe I aquired during my time as a Georgian.  I don’t recall if anyone eats it but me. I am usually so dejected by this point of the meal, I can’t remember.


The family to which I was born has made crescent rolls from the aluminum tube since their inception in the 80’s. This and gelatinized Cranberry sauce from a can are the only requirements my people (the children) will have. Whew.

Your Father really, really likes cornbread. I have a great recipe that I mix in whipped cottage cheese making the muffins moist. He loves this, but CANNOT KNOW ABOUT THE COTTAGE CHEESE. The container must be wrapped in plastic bags and taken to the trash before any unnormal contamination is detected.


Your Father likes Pumpkin Pie. He is the only person who will eat it, but it must be served. He likes it with homeade whipped cream, as well, pls note Reddi Whip is not acceptable.  Don’t even think about Cool Whip.

In 2006, I made a scrumptious apple pie using shredded apples and toasted, finely chopped walnuts. I still dream about it. It was divine. Your Mother hated it.

Can’t wait to see you!

2 thoughts on “Let’s Celebrate Like It’s 1621

  1. Courtney says:

    This is simply amazing. My first Thanksgiving with my father-in-law I spilled red wine all over his white tablecloth and chairs as the meal was being served – I have not been invited back since…that was 15 years ago.

  2. Name says:

    Nailed it! From the other sister-in-law; the one who would sleep in until noon if only society, and my boss, didn’t frown upon it…and is as “mean as a snake” according to my mom. See you on thanksgiving!

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