Last Thanksgiving, my friend Grace B sent me the email below. At the time I was aghast, amused and appalled by its content, but upon further reflection it made me thankful for my own crazy family and the TG dinner that we will share. In contemplating the holiday that celebrates gratitude and gustation, I thought it was worth posting. I predict that it will do the following for you, as it did for me:
1. After reading it, you will doubtless revel in the fact that while your family may drive you bonkers, you can thank your lucky stars that none of them is the 'Emily' in the email.
2. Your mother may overcook the turkey so that it resembles nothing more than shoe leather or sawdust but she won't send you a SHOUTING EMAIL demanding minimum expenditures on wine for the table.
3. Your siblings may put the worst features of the Roman Empire to shame in terms of debauchery, but you can be grateful that they are not ISSUING ORDERS about serving spoons and premium ice cream brands
(I have changed the names to protect these poor souls; being a member of this woman's family has to be enough trauma and I saw no need to spread their misery through cyberspace.)
So enjoy, Graces. If this doesn't make you grateful for your family, nothing will.
"TO: EVERYONE COMING TO THANKSGIVING DINNER AT MY HOUSE
As you all know a fabulous Thanksgiving Dinner does not make itself. I need to ask each of you to help by bringing something to complete the meal. I truly appreciate your offers to assist with the meal preparation.
Now, while I do have quite a sense of humor and joke around all the time, I COULD NOT BE MORE SERIOUS when I am providing you with your Thanksgiving instructions and orders. I am very particular, so please perform your task EXACTLY as I have requested and read your portion very carefully. If I ask you to bring your offering in a container that has a lid, bring your offering in a container WITH A LID, NOT ALUMINUM FOIL! If I ask you to bring a serving spoon for your dish, BRING A SERVING SPOON, NOT A SOUP SPOON! And please do not forget anything.
All food that is to be cooked should already be prepared, bring it hot and ready to serve, warm or room temp. These are your ONLY THREE options. Anything meant to be served cold should, of course, already be cold.
MOM AND DAD—Dinner wine. Make sure there is chardonnay and pinot noir, 3 of each, and make sure you get something decent. A good rule of thumb: spend at least $12/bottle.
THE ALAN JOHNSON FAMILY
1. Turnips in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. Please do not fill the casserole all the way up to the top, it gets too messy. I know this may come as a bit of a surprise to you, but most of us hate turnips so don’t feel like you a have to feed an army.
2. Two half gallons of ice cream, one must be VANILLA, I don’t care what the other one is. No store brands please. I did see an ad this morning for Hagan Dazs Peppermint Bark Ice Cream, yum!! (no pressure here, though).
3. Toppings for the ice cream.
4. A case of bottled water, NOT gallons, any brand is ok.
THE EVAN JOHNSON FAMILY
1. Green beans or asparagus (not both) in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. If you are making the green beans, please prepare FOUR pounds, if you are making asparagus please prepare FIVE pounds. It is up to you how you wish to prepare them, no soupy sauces, no cheese (you know how Mike is), a light sprinkling of toasted nuts, or pancetta, or some EVOO would be a nice way to jazz them up.
2. A case of beer of your choice (I have Coors Light and Corona) or a bottle of Clos du bois chardonnay (you will have to let me know which you will bring prior to 11/22).
THE ANGELA BRYAN O'NEAL FAMILY
1. Angela, as a married woman you are now required to contribute at the adult level. You can bring an appetizer. A few helpful hints/suggestions. Keep it very light, and non-filling, NO COCKTAIL SAUCE, no beans of any kind. I think your best bet would be a platter of fresh veggies and dip. Not a huge platter mind you (i.e., not the plastic platter from the supermarket).
THE JAMES BERTOLLI FAMILY
1. Stuffing in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please make the stuffing sans meat.
2. 2.5-3 qts. of mashed squash in a casserole with a lid and serving spoon
3. Proscuitto pin wheel – please stick to the recipe, no need to bring a plate.
4. A pie knife
THE MAY ANDERSSEN FAMILY
1. 15 LBS of mashed potatoes in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please do not use the over-size blue serving dish you used last year. Because you are making such a large batch you can do one of two things: put half the mash in a regulation size casserole with lid and put the other half in a plastic container and we can just replenish with that or use two regulation size casserole dishes with lids. Only one serving spoon is needed.
2. A bottle of Clos du bois chardonnay
THE JULIE BLAUVELT FAMILY (why do I even bother she will never read this)
1. A pumpkin pie in a pie dish (please use my silver palate recipe) no knife needed.
2. An apple pie in a pie dish, you can use your own recipe, no knife needed.
Looking forward to the Thanksgiving with all of you!!
Happy Thanksgiving, Graces!