The Thanksgiving Letter

Thanksgiving's a special time of year, full of family, friends, and food. Most importantly, we count our blessings, especially the ones that have to do with crazy family members inviting us over for food. By now, most of you (and the world) have read The Thanksgiving Letter, which I posted last year after receiving it from a friend. Since I first published it, it's been reposted on a number of websites, most famously Awkward Family Photos. It even went on to be made into a digital short by INST MSGS. (It's LOL brilliant.) Oh, and to answer questions I've received about the letter (since a reader called me out: "As a married woman it is your duty as an adult to follow up on this."):
  1. Yes, this is a true letter.
  2. No, it’s not about my family, nor did I write it. It was written by a dear friend’s coworker's family member. I got permission to post it, and I changed the names to protect the innocent from the litigious. :-)
  3. Sadly, there has not been a subsequent edition of the letter.
Here's the original post:

Happy Thanksgiving: OCD-Style
posted November 25, 2008

I'm not one to gossip, but I received this letter from a friend. She got it from her coworker, whose sister wrote it! (Seriously.)

Apparently, it takes a village to build a Thanksgiving feast...and as we know, every village needs a village leader (or village idiot, as the case may be).

I changed none of the wording except for the names (so they can't sue me when they read this).

Happy Thanksgiving!


From: Marney

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.

HJB—Dinner wine

The Mike Byron 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 Daz 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 Bob Byron 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 Lisa Byron Chesterford Family
1. Lisa as a married woman you are now required to contribute at the adult level. You can bring an hors d’ouvres. 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 Michelle Bobble 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 June Davis 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 Amy Misto 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 28th!!



This makes me look SO normal.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I realize that everyone is trashing the writer, but I could have written that letter myself. (In fact, I do write something like it. Fortunately my family sees it as endearing, bless 'em.)

Temporary OCD is ESSENTIAL when trying to herd 30 or 40 family members to "help". Kudos to the writer, I'm with Marney!!

Anonymous said...

You probably ARE "Marney". :)

Anonymous said...

"Temporary OCD is ESSENTIAL when..."

Face it... if Marney's letter seemed in any way reasonable to you, your psycho-social issues are NOT temporary, and your OC qualifies as a D.

Do everyone around you a favor and get some help. Please.

Kara DeFrias said...

I'm not Marney! I used to could've been, but I'm not even that bad anymore. :)

Anonymous said...

I was married to a 'Marcey'. To the woman who says she's "with Marney", I hate to break it to you but your family is only pretending to put up with you. There is nothing endearing about this. It is funny to the millions who have bookmarked it, shared it, printed it and joked about it because it not merely OCD, it is scary. We laugh at things like this because we realize that it is far from normal. Fortunately, my current wife is far, far from this. You really should get some help sweetie... your family really does not find this kind of behaviour endearing but seriously frightening.

Anonymous said...

"If I ask you to bring your offering in a container that has a lid..." !! I'm with the previous commenter. If I received a letter like this, my offering would arrive, burnt [with lid] on the doorstep while I and others, who can smell a control freak when they see one, would be meeting at a nearby restaurant.

Anonymous said...

I hope "Marney" has gotten serious psychiatric help. Because if she wrote this letter to my family, she'd still be trying to remove the serving spoons that were lodged in various places...

Anonymous said...

If I received this letter, I wouldn't even try to attend this holiday dinner. I would be so afraid of how, Marney" was judging me all day that I would feel uncomfortable the entire time. I am so laid back that I wouldn't even notice if someone else was doing something wrong, much less myself! I do like organization but I would never DARE tell someone else how to package up their offerings. That is just horrible from my point of view. And truthfully, I would be the "lodger of the serving spoons" as noted above!

Anonymous said...

I have read this letter at least 4 times in the past year. It always serves to make me feel remarkably healthy & happy. Poor "Marney"'s family - what a demanding gal. Thanksgiving is about gratitude - being grateful to have family with whom to spend a holiday & to be alive to celebrate it. I hope Marney's family does not allow her to bully them around any more! Thanks for making me laugh!

Kristen said...

I don't know what the regulation size for a casserole is. I didn't even know there WAS a regulation casserole size.
I give thanks I'm not part of this family - I'd be screwed.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could have been one of the families on the list so I could show up with just a bag of chips and a box of Kraft mac n' cheese just to see Marney have a nervous breakdown. Hilarious!!! Thanks to Marney for making the rest of us feel "normal."

Christine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christine said...

ROFL! As the oldest of 9 siblings, I'm pretty familiar with LARGE Thanksgiving meals. We start an email list going around about a month ahead of time. No such thing as "regulation casserole" in our huge family (30+)! Marney'd hate to see that most of our meal is actually "served" in disposable baking dishes onto disposable's THAT for easy clean-up...thus allowing us to spend more time with FAMILY! ;-) Betcha that Marney's the only one who cares if it's a soup spoon or a serving spoon....we just want the darn mashed potatoes!!

Thanks for the laugh....our whole family enjoyed it and are thankful to see that we are NOT this obsessive in being organized!

Anonymous said...

Hello there, I found this story in AFP and had so much fun I translated it for my mother. Thanks for sharing it ! :D

I suppose every family have a "Marney", we have our very own, that's sure, but trying to give orders to more than 100 people (and that's only one side of the family) is just NOT possible. And the lack of politeness doesn't help. Bless my uncles who imposed restaurant :)

Amber said...

Can you track "Marney" down and interview her, anonymously? I'd really like to hear how she feels about this, now that her letter is so famous/infamous. :)

AilishsMom said...

Marney speaks:

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