turkey and gravy thanksgivingThanksgiving is my favorite holiday. What’s not to love? From homemade rolls to warm pumpkin pie, it’s an endless forkful of savory goodness. Unfortunately, some people get it all wrong. They do crazy things to ruin my fat-pants-wearing day. Let’s flip through my personal rolodex of turkey-day “don’ts”:   

Give me turkey

I cry “Fowl!” to anybody who messes with the traditional Tom Turkey. You need to know that if you invite me to your house I expect a hand-basted, golden brown bird. NOT a Tofurkey, NOT a ham, and NOT some deep-fried explosive science experiment. Some things just shouldn’t be messed with. Furthermore, if you’re a foodie who swears “Asian Duck is the hottest thing this year!” do me a favor and invite me some other day—not the third Thursday in November. That’s just cruel. 

Don’t make me travel

If you don’t have children and your house is more than a three-hour drive away, don’t invite me for the holidays. I won’t come. Not because I don’t love you, but because I want to actually enjoy myself. Do you have any idea what I have to do to prepare for an over-the-river-and-through-the-woods outing such as this? We’re talkin’ laundry, packing clothes, making arrangements for the dog, and waking up at the crack of dawn to drive to your child-free abode. And guess what? Once we arrive at your house, do you know who’s in charge of making sure my angels don’t break your low-lying, antique porcelain doll collection? Yours truly. Um, I think I’ll pass. 

Make homemade gravy

No other sauce bears such a terrible onus as turkey gravy. So don’t fill that boat with lumpy, bland, or out-of-a-can (how DARE you?) sauce. If you do, you will be singularly responsible for ruining every other dish you lovingly prepared. As we all know, gravy is promiscuous. Delicious or not, it will shamelessly hit on all the morsels you put on your plate. Don’t make me regret the big ladle. Do the mashed potatoes a favor, and take your time with the gravy. Date it, fall in love with it, and then introduce it to your family. Make no mistake: It will be scrutinized more harshly than your prom date or future husband. 

Jane will not thank you for caring about her waistline—>


Don’t experiment

Today is not the day to try a new recipe. The crowd assembled wants the classics. The ones we know by heart. Turkey lovers are a neo-phobic bunch; if you don’t have the usual suspects covering every inch of your dining room table, there will be a riot. We want Grandma’s stuffing, not some creative recipe you saw on TV last week. 

And if you can’t cook, don’t suddenly become delusional and believe you can. On this, of all days, save yourself the embarrassment … and 40 years of relentless teasing. I have witnessed the debacle of a novice cook’s attempt at greatness. We still refer to it as “that Thanksgiving.” Let’s just say, after the stove fire, there wasn’t much left.  

Forget calorie counting

Low-fat food is culinary suicide on Thanksgiving. Truthfully, not one person will thank you for caring about their waistline on this day. What they will do is silently resent you for depriving them of a true food-fest. So dump that mushroom soup on those green beans. Destroy any vitamin left behind with heaping handfuls of fried onions. And, if I suspect you used chicken broth instead of cream in the spuds, I’m calling you out on it.  

Be thankful 

I must admit, the most insane Thanksgiving dinners are the ones I remember most; it’s the faultless ones that fade quickly. But that’s the whole point of the holiday: to hold hands around a big table and give thanks, sopping up the kindness of our quirky families and stuffing ourselves with love until next year. It’s the one thing that endures. It’s the big DO in a world of don’ts.

But, seriously, trust me on the gravy!

What are your Thanksgiving pet peeves? Please share below!

Jane Suter is one funny mom. To share some of your own parenting experiences with Jane, write to her