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Ah, the holidays! Family togetherness and family squabbles.

Gone are the days when I was relegated to the children’s table and my only responsibility was setting the table and making my bed before company arrived. Things have changed, partly due to a shift in family dynamics. My generation is now in charge of planning the family holiday dinners. We rotate between my house and my cousins’ places every year. Everyone brings something for the dinner, and inevitably, there are some hits and misses.

I believe you shouldn’t say anything about other people’s contributions. You should try a little of everything and keep your mouth shut to ensure holiday harmony. But some people can’t shut their pumpkin pie hole.

The “gravy incident” is a good example. My cousin had his gravy simmering on the stove. Aunt “B” decided his gravy was too thin and attempted to add a cornstarch slurry. Not a good thing.

  • 1. Because cornstarch leaves an icky, pasty aftertaste. A blend of softened butter with flour is much better.
  • 2. Because it’s not your house. Not your gravy. 

My cousin took exception to anyone messing with his gravy. As he should! Aunt “B” took exception because she is right. She is ALWAYS right. Thoroughly steamed, Aunt “B” let everyone know that she didn’t want to sit at the table with my cousin. And given her sour mood, no one wanted to sit next to her. My husband bemoaned the fact that two gravyless Thanksgivings followed the gravy incident.

Then there’s the “sticky rice” incident. Sticky rice is a short grain rice stuffing, a staple on our holiday table. It’s my mother’s schtick. She brings it every year. Well, a couple of years ago, my sister-in-law also brought sticky rice. Her sticky rice had more sausage in it. (And people liked it better.) My mother took great umbrage and now, before every holiday, I get the call. “Tell her not to bring her sticky rice. I’m making sticky rice.” And yeah, I get the major stink eye from mom because lo and behold, there’s another cauldron of sticky rice next to hers.

It’s not Top Chef! It’s Thanksgiving. Even the barely touched contributions get boxed up with all the other leftovers and taken home after dinner. Given my family’s sense of economy, nothing goes to waste.

Holidays are stressful. The planning, making sure the food stays hot until the last guest arrives, the hurt feelings because someone didn’t try the cranberry Jello mold.  

It’s not about the food. It’s about family and friends and being damn thankful for what you’ve got.

I hope there’s no squabble before you gobbble this Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

So, share…were there any “gravy incident” type incidents in your family’s holiday past?

Just a note…Many families with loved ones serving abroad will have one or more empty places at their holiday table this year. Please keep them in mind during the holidays.

Green Beans Coffee has outlets at most FOB (forward operating bases) in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East. Let a serviceman or woman know you’re thinking of them by buying them a Cup of Joe. Your cost: two bucks.  


No one wants to think about Christmas just yet, but please consider sending a holiday card (or a care package) to our military stationed in the war zone. The holidays take on a new meaning when a soldier, sailor or Marine is far from home. You can obtain an address from the following site: www.anysoldier.com

You have to register in order to get an address, but AnySoldier will not spam you or fill your in box with junk mail. And it’s free!