Perfect Thanksgiving Guests

by admin on November 22, 2012

This isn’t a story about bad manners. In fact it’s a story about guests who made a holiday absolutely wonderful on very short notice due to sad circumstances.

A few weeks ago I had major surgery to fix a life long problem. I feel a lot better but I still get tired when I exert myself. Every Thanksgiving we go to my in-law’s for Thanksgiving, and this year we were planning on bringing a cheesecake and my special dip. Two days before Thanksgiving we receive a call from my mother-in-law, my husband’s grandfather was very ill and in the hospital. They were going to be at the hospital with him for Thanksgiving. We understood completely and asked if they wanted us to make the trip with our two boys to visit him as well. She said he was pretty ill and needed to rest but at a later date we could. My husband and I sat down and tried to figure out what we were going to do for Thanksgiving. Earlier that day a wonderful woman and friend of ours had given us a turkey, so the turkey was taken care of. When she heard of our issue she brought us a large box full of fresh veggies and apples!! We were beyond thankful!

That evening I was talking to a good friend of ours, we’re close with her and husband, John and Molly. Their plans had been cancelled as well due to her mother-in-law being extremely unreasonable. Because they had not driven 2 hours to clean her house for her, she had decided to call off Thanksgiving. We invited John and Molly to our place to share a meal. They accepted and came the night before to spend the night since they wanted to help with preparations.

The next morning I was up super early to start getting stuff going. Molly got up with me and we both drank some coffee as we started to plug away. We created a wonderful meal while we all tag teamed playing the my two young sons. John peeled 6 pounds of potatoes, mashed them after they were done. My husband kept the kids out of the kitchen, Molly did the dishes as I created them. This was by far the most relaxing, wonderful Thanksgivings I have ever had. When Molly saw me getting a little tired and I was slowing down, she made me go sit down and brought me something to drink while she took over. They set the table, and when dinner was ready we went around and said what we were grateful for. I began to tear up as I said what I was grateful for. I said that family isn’t determined by blood lines or marriages. It’s determined by who comes together and is there for each other. Our family includes all those who wish to be a part of it.

When dinner was finished Molly and John cleared the table and my husband did the dishes while she and I took a nap. They even cleaned our living room after the boys had strewn toys across it. I didn’t feel rushed, taken advantage of or under appreciated. When they left that evening to go home I had them fill a large plate with whatever they wanted. The day was full of laughs, even when I caught the oven on fire (it was small and quickly dealt with….drippings caused it).

I just wanted to share a story of guests who integrated themselves in the family and didn’t act like they were at a restaurant and treat their hosts like waiters!   1126-11

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

MamaToreen November 22, 2012 at 5:21 am

You are truly blessed to have friends like them!

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Angel November 22, 2012 at 8:45 am

What a beautiful story. And the OP is absolutely right! You cannot choose your relatives that’s for sure. I will be spending Thanksgiving with my in-laws today–not completely by choice, my MIL has hosted thanksgiving every year for the past 20 or 30 years. She loves doing it and cooks all the time. This year my husband and I wanted to host at our house. She offered to come over and cook. I told her to bring a bunch of side dishes over and I would cook the turkey. She went nuts. A couple weeks ago my husband said that we should just let her keep doing Thanksgiving until she is no longer physically able to do it. So I said okay. To me Thanksgiving is really about my MIL controlling the whole holiday and nobody else gets a say. She is like a nicer version of Marie Barone–her intentions are good, it’s just that she doesn’t think I’m capable of cooking for a major holiday like Thanksgiving and not screwing it up. I’m not interested in fighting with her anymore. So to me Thanksgiving is about bringing over my fresh cranberry sauce (my MIL makes everything else from scratch, but for some strange reason, cranberry sauce has to be from a can) and shutting the hell up. That is my gift to my husband this holiday season LOL

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Mary November 22, 2012 at 9:44 am

One of the best Christmases I remember was when I was ten. Due to a recent car accident my family was down to one car. Extreme cold and snow that week made travel impossible and froze our car. One set of friends had to call off their trip to see their relatives. They invited us over for Christmas dinner and both families combined freezer contents to create s meal since no one had planned on making Christmas dinner. They picked us up and we spent the whole day eating and playing games.

Due to the fact that we lived in the Upper Midwest and both sides of my very small extended family lived on both coasts, we spent the majority of most holidays with different groups of close friends. Plus quite often my parents would invite those who didn’t have a place to go. I’ve spent many holiday dinners with grad students of my Dad’s, seminary students and even local nuns. The variety of guests has made for great memories.

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Jelaza November 22, 2012 at 9:49 am

Stories like this are what Thanksgiving is supposed to be.

(Well, except for John’s mother cancelling the holiday. I’m sure after that that John and Molly were just as thankful for you, and your invitation, and your words about family, as you were for them and their friendship, help and thoughtfulness.)

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lnelson1218 November 22, 2012 at 10:07 am

Awesome story. It’s nice to see/read about the good.

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abf November 22, 2012 at 10:08 am

Thank you for sharing. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

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Aariana November 22, 2012 at 10:27 am

Thank you very much for that story. It’s nice to hear about people who don’t take advantage of their friends. What a great read first thing in the morning!

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Heather November 22, 2012 at 10:39 am

This is how Thanksgiving got started at my house. Every year, my Mom has her 4-5 best friends, their significant others, their kids (and me!) come home to her house for a huge dinner. She does the turkey and biscuits, I do the potatoes, and everyone brings a bottle of wine and a side dish.

It’s evolved so much that we do it for Christmas too!

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Esmeralda November 22, 2012 at 11:21 am

This was beautiful. Friends like these are one of the greatest treasures!

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Kovi November 22, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Such a wonderful story!

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Andi November 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm

And that is what the day should truely be about. Some of my best Thanksgivings have been moe “spur of the moment” events with lotsof laughter.

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Kirst November 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Sounds like a lovely day. But six pounds of potatoes for four adults and two children? :-O

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Belly November 22, 2012 at 3:40 pm

What a lovely story!
I really ‘get’ Thanksgiving as it’s not done in Australia, but this seems to capture the spirit that the celebration is intended to be in.

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PDamian November 22, 2012 at 3:52 pm

What a lovely, wonderful story. Thanks for sharing!

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Ann November 22, 2012 at 5:22 pm

That is a heart-warming story, indeed. I’m glad you have such good friends.

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Lita November 22, 2012 at 6:49 pm

What a wonderful, heartwarming story. :) Thanksgiving truly is a time for everyone to come together.

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gramma dishes November 22, 2012 at 7:43 pm

I think another thing deserving mention is the cooperation and inclusion of the men involved in helping make this memorable Thanksgiving go so smoothly. That’s the way it always SHOULD be, of course.

But more often than not, pretty much everything that resembles ‘work’ falls to the women. So kudos to the OP’s husband and their friend John! Also, special thanks for the other woman friend who got the whole ball rolling by giving you a turkey and the veggies and apples to make it all possible.

You’re right. It’s who comes together and helps each other. It sounds like a Thanksgiving that will always be one of the sweet highlights of your lives.

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Cheryl November 22, 2012 at 8:01 pm

The friend who gave you the turkey and produce is a sweetheart, and Molly and John are the kind of friends we all wish we had more of. Thanks for sharing this.

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Goodness November 22, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Thank you for sharing such a lovely story!

One of my fondest Thanksgiving memories happened in 1984. I was recently divorced and living alone far from family. Fortunately I belonged to a music society that included a number of other young folks far from home. So one of the guys hosted an ‘orphan feast.’ He roasted the turkey he’d received from his boss, and the rest of us brought side dishes; there must have been 10 of us so there was quite a variety of dishes. Our host, it turned out, had never cooked a turkey in his life, but despite doing everything wrong including leaving the giblet bag inside, it was –eventually– one of the tastiest if ugliest turkeys I’d ever eaten. There was lots of laughter and warmth, and a day I for one will never forget.

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Ergala November 22, 2012 at 11:51 pm

This was my story! I submitted it last year :) Let me clarify the 6 pounds of potatoes. John and Molly were HUGE potato fans. Believe me, there were none left. Sadly this past year issues arose and we are no longer friends. Basically over time they over stepped a lot of bounds (such as literally emptying our fridge whenever they came for a visit) and some very inappropriate things were said when they found out our income (we were in the process of purchasing a house and the loan paperwork was clipped the fridge door but turned against the fridge. John had started selling vacuum cleaners that cost over a grand. Molly snooped, saw our income and immediately ran into the living room and told John “THEY MAKE XYZ a year! They can totally afford one of your vacuums!”). But I don’t look at that Thanksgiving with regret. There were a few eyebrow raising situations last year but we chose to not dwell on them. This year was a very small get together with just my in laws and it was quite lovely.

Our friend who supplied the goodies is still one of my dearest friends. She knew we weren’t going to be able to get everything for a meal on that short of notice. This year we are paying it forward and on Sunday we are hosting a large get together in our new place with all our close friends and anyone who didn’t get a dinner this year. It’s a complete dinner and I think it will be the start of an annual event.

I just want to tell everyone something. Sometimes the smallest action you take can have the biggest impact on someone. Good or bad. I don’t like keeping score when we do “favors” for friends. I don’t like to think of it was them owing us. What I like to think is that as human beings we should want to reach out and lift up those who are unable to stand on their own. It just makes me sad that it usually takes a holiday to bring out the best in people. If you have any clothes, extra blankets, kids toys that you want to clear out, please consider contact your local shelter or community center. Especially the battered women shelters in your area. You’d be sadly amazed at how packed those places can be during the holidays. I hope everyone is as blessed as I am with a loving family and close friends this year. And if you are alone, give yourself a hug from me and count me as a friend even though we don’t know each other.

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ItsyBitsy November 23, 2012 at 2:51 am

One year when we were living abroad due to my husband’s job, I invited all my son’s classmates from his school to his 8th birthday party. It was an international school so many of the families were from the US. My son’s birthday that year fell on Thanksgiving. Being British, I didn’t understand how important that holiday was and was a bit miffed when several of these parents declined the invitation, for reasons that are obvious to me now but not then. However, several parents did allow their children to attend and he had a great evening (there was a trip included that took up most of the evening).

Knowing as I do now what a generous gesture it was by those parents, I am very grateful. As for the others, I’m still ashamed that I treated their holiday with such ignorant disdain.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from the US!

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Enna November 23, 2012 at 6:29 am

Nice story shame that the OP and the firends fell out because of the firends’ unreasonable behaviour. Although I do think sticking paper work that details finances is a bad idea as any guest can see what you are earning and that kind of thing is personal. I do think OP did walk into the hoover sales pitch because of that. Although Molly was rude to say what she did infront of John she could have said to him privately “have you thought of asking OP and hubby if they need a hoover?”.

I’m amazed that these firends would empty out the firdge! If I had a firend do that they wouldn’t be a firend for much longer. This shows that humans are complex – you get “good” “bad” and those inbetween.

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Bint November 23, 2012 at 9:14 am

I really wish we hadn’t had the follow up. Such a heart-warming story of what friendship should be, then all the warm fuzzies promptly ruined on finding out John and Molly went downhill.

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Angel November 23, 2012 at 9:21 am

Oh my goodness! My daughter has two friends (they are sisters) who literally eat us out of house and home whenever they come over. The older child once ate more than half a large pizza by herself (she is 9) and all the snacks are history. We don’t see them as much anymore.

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Ergala November 23, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Don’ let the update sadden you. John and Molly are good people, just absolutely socially clueless at times. We had put the paperwork on the fridge because that afternoon it was being dropped off and we didn’t want to lose it or put it where the kiddos could get to it and draw all over it. So we folded it up and clipped it to the fridge. If John had dropped it when we said no to the sales pitch it would have been fine. But he would.not.let.go. It was a constant thing that just irritated me so much that I was starting to get very snappy. I don’t like being an angry person. We love sharing what we have (even if it isn’t much at times), but sometimes people forget that we aren’t made of money and really expect too much of us. Or they don’t reciprocate.

I knew something was going on with John and Molly when I went to their home one evening and their place was absolutely filthy. I actually had wasps buzzing around my head in the living room and I was tackled by a cat chasing it. In private I asked Molly if everything was okay and she had no idea why I thought she wasn’t okay. I honestly think that some mental health issues were in play and that it explains the sudden personality changes and social issues.

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yankeegal77 November 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm

While the update might seem a bit of a downer, Ergala, you’ve perfectly captured the essence of many of the stories at E-Hell.

Friends are great for years, but then…things change. Does a poster give the direct cut, or put up with outlandish, unreasonable behavior for the sake of being polite and not making waves? This story/follow-up combination is a great examples of this.

Yes, John and Molly were good friends, but sounds like they started crossing lines. Eating all your food? Annoying, but…if you expect it, at least you can take precautions. Snooping around on your fridge? Not. Cool. It sounds like you had things “set to private” with the way the papers were folded and clipped, but honestly, you should be able to display a paystub in fill view in your own home and if a guest is looking, well, they need to *not* mention it. The vacuum pitch? Oh, HECK NO!!

IMO, John and Molly were out of line and you were correct in freeing yourself from what had become a toxic dynamic.

On the bright side, it sounds like you have some wonderful, dear friends and have started what will hopefully be a lovely tradition. As someone who spent the holiday alone this year, it is lovely to hear of you of you opening your home to and breaking bread with your friends. Hope I’m able to host something similar sometime. :)

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Stacey Frith-Smith November 23, 2012 at 9:02 pm

What a lovely story, OP! Thank you for sharing it.

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Ergala November 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm

@Yankeegal I agree 100% with you. Sadly in today’s era we are experiencing a huge invasion of privacy. We’ve had friends over and their kids snatched an entire roll of quarters. I went crazy looking for them for over a week. She returned them two weeks later and explained her 7 year old had taken them. She discovered this at her mother in law’s home and they fell out of his jacket. According to the mother in law he should have been allowed to keep them because I left them “laying around” my home. They were on the hallway table. They were in my home, they weren’t left on a park bench. I was pretty shocked.

Tomorrow we are hosting our get together for a group of friends. I am fully expecting there to be a few situations with 15 people in the house, but I take the good with the bad. As long as nobody is hurt and everyone is smiling at the end of the day mission accomplished.

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AIP November 26, 2012 at 3:30 pm

The original story is great – thanks for sharing.

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