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Posted by: Helen Philpot | November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving Letter to the Family

Dear Family,

As we gather again for another Thanksgiving, I’d like to set up some house rules. I know I’m not the head cook anymore, but I’m still the head of the household so listen up:

No cell phones at the dinner table.

No feet (big or tiny) on my furniture.

No jello-salad.

Parenting is a full-time job. You don’t get the holiday off. Watch your kids and make sure there is some food on their plate that has color. Carrots. Green beans. Yams. Something more than just mashed potatoes. They might not eat any, but it’s never too soon to introduce them to each other. It would be easier if I was still the cook and everything had a little bacon grease to help it go down, but in this age of vegavegan-gluttenfree-halffat-lesssodium-nosugaradded, I can’t be responsible for how the food tastes anymore. Gone are the days of the three master spices: salt, pepper and bacon grease.

No jello-salad. I’m serious about this. The only thing that jiggles at my house this Thanksgiving will be your Aunt Trudy after a few glasses of wine.

I’ve lived a long life and along the way, I’ve collected a few nice things. I don’t put them away for company and I don’t put them away for family. Eventually your child needs to learn the meaning of the word No. Let’s make that happen today. We watch football in the family room on TV. We throw footballs outside on the lawn. And when you do go outside, shut the door behind you. I don’t need to air condition the whole neighborhood. And if Mr. Briggers next door tells you to stay off his lawn, tell him to stay off my last nerve. I swear, that man is the one bad bulb that ruins the whole string of lights.

If you want to talk politics sit next to me, but if you own a MAGA hat be warned. Your President is an asshat and I’m old enough to speak my mind regardless of your precious feelings. If I were you, I’d practice don’t ask, don’t tell because even when I mind my Ps and Qs, I can still spell bullshit.

No jello-salad.

If your child still wears diapers, you will leave with the same number of them as you had when you arrived. Bag them up and take them with you. The trash man doesn’t come again until next Tuesday and the last thing I need is a trash can full of baby poop. No exceptions to this rule. You’re dealing with a woman who washed cloth diapers so this would be an argument you will lose.

You know I love you. And I am indeed thankful for my family. I used to have a handle on life, but it broke. Follow the rules and we’ll all get along just fine.

No jello-salad. I mean it. Really.

With love,

Aunt Helen/Mom/Grandma

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Responses

  1. I just discovered your blog and I am in LOVE. I’m going to spend the rest of the afternoon reading through the posts! You remind me very much of me and my best friend of nearly 30 years, so I imagine I’ll get a lot of laughs!

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  2. What a wonderful letter! I loved every bit of it… (Kept thinking of that insurance commercial where the guy says, “We know a lot because we’ve seen a lot.”)

    And not a word of bitterness, or name-calling, or anything of the sort! Loved the story about the chickadees, and gotta say that “coffee jello” sounds pretty interesting. (Sorry, Helen; I promise I won’t bring it for Thanksgiving!)

    Hope you will grace The Porch with more letters, HRH. They will be very welcome. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t believe I almost missed Margaret and Helen’s Thanksgiving letter. I’m pretty sure I’ve read every one they have offered us here on the porch. It’s become part of my tradition for this holiday, one of those things I’m grateful for.

    I apologize for writing such a long post but I miss the old days when the porch crowd gathered here. I’ll be 75 in a couple of weeks so my sense of humor meshes with Helen’s. I was sorry to see a couple of people who took her comments about one of those aberrant senators to be anti something. I understood what she was saying but maybe it takes an OLD sense of humor. I’ve lived through several wars (all on foreign soil) and was born at the end of the big one. I survived childhood sexual molestation by three different uncles (my mother had 10 or 11 siblings, some of them not much older than I was) and I never reported them to anyone since I was told I better keep quiet or I would be in trouble. This, during the time when almost everyone was older and more powerful than I was. I survived a childhood when I was sometimes hungry or could of eat potatoes and brown flour gravy but I liked it better with the mushrooms my father foraged. I’ve learned from this that it’s possible to survive many things that seem unsurvivable.

    I never dreamed our country’s “Liberty and Justice for all” would be invalidated by a Republican government of bounders and charlatans, all looking out mostly for themselves and a few “friends” of the same level of greed and “worth.”

    I wonder what happened to the idea of “respect must be EARNED!” I can’t remember which financial entity used the phrase.

    For many years, we had the same food and people every year for Thanksgiving. This year we decided to make dishes the current population likes instead of the mashed rutabagas and creamed onions served by my husbands great aunt and elderly cousin. They’re long gone, some side dishes should go also. Though some ideas are too good to get rid of completely. As for the green bean casserole, consider making it with fresh green beans, sauteed shitaki mushrooms with a nicely mushroom flavored bechamel sauce and put the fried onions on at the last minute. There IS room for bacon grease in some dishes. I like the flavor and believe a small amount (from good, real smokehouse bacon) can only help kale if you add a handful of currents and some sauteed onions done in said bacon grease.

    My sister used to make a really good cranberry jello salad. She had the recipe published in her church cookbook. (10-15 other women had the same recipe published in the same book). I have nothing against it except that my digestive system doesn’t know what to do with the jello protein so it gives me serious indigestion so it’s just not worth it. Besides, 48 yr old son now has his daughters make the same sauce he invented when he was 10…cranberry, orange, apple and whatever else strikes his fancy, cooked with a bit (not too much) sugar. And I almost forgot, a dear friend, now also passed, introduced us to COFFEE jello. It’s apparently and idea from Rhode Island. Strong, sweet coffee (instant is best), jelled, works wonders after the main course. Even with whipped cream it’s possible (after a walk out in the cold fresh air) to eat those pies that we love. There were only six of us (and 2 of them were children) so we limited ourselves to pumpkin (it’s the best pie for breakfast) and pecan because nuts are full of potassium. We also had a backup apple pie bought at the Ukrainian church ladies fund raiser frozen in our neighbors freezer. (Our neighbors are vegetarian, no sugar, no desert people so we knew it was safe and besides, their freezer is empty almost all the time.)

    I feel I have to touch on the way the weather has changed, too. Since our holidays happen at the same time (within 7 days or so) every year, how about noting how different the weather was this year. After a period of later and later January freeze dates, this year the ground was frozen a day or two before Thanksgiving. No, that doesn’t mean Climate Change is not real. It means change doesn’t go in a direct line to what we wished it would, rather it will mess us around in every way it can and we would be fools to not at least give up some of our carelessness and try to be better educated people.

    The chickadees always come back for this holiday. They’re the first bird I fell in love with when I was 3 or 4. I clearly remember the snowy day I first saw them feed upside down on the suet my mother put out for them. At this house we used to get 15 or 20 in a flock. This year there are maybe 6…they’re hard to count. Yesterday, one of the smaller ones was brave enough to land on my fingers and take a seed from my hand. Then came back and did it again 4 times. If chickadees can learn who to trust, maybe the young ones (humans) can learn to be different from their elders and start making ours a better world. Some of us have been trying since the 1970’s, I can only hope that I wasn’t foolish for saying NO to buying stuff that’s just thrown in the trash and for loving our diversity and celebrating all our regional differences.

    Happy Holidays everyone. (I mean ALL of them, we can’t have too many) And remember to just keep peddling because if you stop, we’ll all fall over.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. […] have gone cell phone crazy, and left their blogs behind. One of the traditions at M&H is the Thanksgiving Letter to the Family. Here is the 2018 version. Pictures for this holiday season are from The Library of Congress. The […]

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  5. I know Thanksgiving was a week ago, but I got busy and just now had a chance to read your letter. You always make me smile, so thank you and I hope your Thanksgiving was as happy as mine.

    I hope there wasn’t any Jello. Of course, there usually is at least one person who chooses to ignore the rules. Happens in most families, but I would think by now your family would be well aware of at least this hard and fast rule.

    Hugs to you,
    Pat

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You are awesome! Thank you for the post…. it always makes me smile.

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  7. Thanksgiving here was awesome. I finally caved and did not do a seven course dinner. Instead it was turkey pot pies from the supermarket. Totally minimal prep and clean up. For the first time, really really enjoyed the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I just love you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. […]   From Margaret and Helen: […]

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  10. Happy Thanksgiving, and yes-eat the veggies!
    HUGS and Love!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The blazes with the nitwit in the WH in DC. This is our day to feast and frolic! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I don’t like jello. Full stop. Happy Thanksgiving you and yours!

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  13. Not big on jello myself. Love bacon, bacon grease, bacon is meat candy! First year of no cook turkey day. Daughter is hosting for the first time. Maybe now she will understand why I got crabby…..

    Liked by 1 person

  14. “No Jello Salad….”

    I agree with that 100% !!! LOL 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I read your post out loud to my father and husband. They’re still chortling! Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.
    We go in to my sister’s these days and while I don’t bring jello salad, I don’t get to order everyone around anymore, so I suspect that there will be one jiggling on the sideboard. I never go through the line first and it’s no one’s business what I put on my plate so that jello salad can stay right in its bowl.
    What makes me cringe is to see people heap their plates, eat a quarter of what they took and then scrape the rest into the garbage. At my house, the rule is “take a spoonful, try it, and if you like it, take more but don’t take more than you plan to eat!”

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  16. I like your rules but in my house, all vegies get eaten by all children & they love them. We serve them steamed with butter & a little salt. But I come from a German-French background & not a Southern-American one. I like my bacon at breakfast & not with my vegies. Or with fried potatoes, Himmel mit Erde. At Thanksgiving, before the actual dinner, we have trays of cut-up carrot sticks & celery sticks & broccoli flowerettes & various dips & the kids love that. Also black olives which they stick on their fingers & then eat off! I did that too as a kid! I always thought olives were the candy of the vegetable world! We also serve acorn squash served with brown sugar & butter & I don’t know any kid who doesn’t like that! Put a dollop of maple sugar in there & you’re really talking!

    I never hated any vegetable except beets. I love them now, of course. My mother’s adage was “Try it, you don’t have to eat all of it, just give it a taste” & I ended up liking everything. I come from a long line of great cooks.

    My Gramma Mac used to make the most awesome jello salads. Nobody does anymore. I was at the store the other day & I saw a lady with Knox geleton in her cart & I thought, she’s making jello salad! I wondered what kind she was going to make. My grandmother had salads for every holiday.

    I love your posts & really miss them! Happy Thanksgiving! Blessings!

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  17. Great Thanksgiving letter. I loved it. Happy Thanksgiving.

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  18. I certainly agree about the jello salad, and the diapers.

    I’m 65 this time around, and my firstborn (40) is doing most of the cooking. I just took the cherry pie out of the oven, and she has to use it tomorrow for the turkey and meatloaf because hers hasn’t been fixed yet.

    We eat at her place – there are advantages to living across a parking lot from each other.

    Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

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  19. Thanks Helen! Happy thanksgiving to you and yours! We appreciate you for all the years you’ve invested in this site, continuing to give us hope when hope gets dashed, and being the pied piper we like to come to to get our spirits lifted. May God bless you always. Happy thanksgiving all porch dwellers!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Gary and Traci! Thanks for sending the column. I think I’ve gotten dropped from the blog so I need to re-subscribe. Though I must say that my cranberry salad (which contains Jello) is on the request list at all family holiday meals. It doesn’t come off as a Jello salad. It’s mostly homemade whole cranberry sauce. In fact I need to get off my phone and get some made! 🦃❤️🦃

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  21. Happy Thanksgiving. Thanks for your letters. They help keep me sane😬

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  22. […] via Thanksgiving Letter to the Family […]

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  23. I could not agree more! Let me add one more thing, please, please no more green bean casserole with soggy ‘crispy’ onions and insipid mushroom soup! At 83 years of age I’ve suffered through far too much tasteless food. Bless you for your posts and your politics, I want to sit next to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. I loved this post, as usual, and agree with it all except the bacon grease. I just don’t happen to care for bacon except as a crumble added to green beans. I know, I’m weird, but that’s how it is.

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  25. Happy Thanksgiving Helen and Margaret! You always make me laugh. I hope the world is brighter next year and I thank you so much for helping get me through this one. God help the person that brought jello salad! Love ya!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Thanks for sending this. Loved it

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  27. I THINK YOU ARE GREAT (FELLOW GRANDMOM).I agree with your politics as well!!

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  28. When you meant to say, “Pass the gravy” and it comes out “Trump is Satan”

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Wonderful as always!

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  30. Oh my goodness, Helen. Never lose your terrific sense of humour! Too funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Happy Thanksgiving – you made me laugh 🙂

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  32. I so look forward to your newsletters. We are about the same age and like you, I do not suffer fools lightly anymore.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Thank you, Thank You for being here, Helen. Wishing you and Margaret a fantastic Happy Thanksgiving. And also a very Happy Thanksgiving to all the porch sitters.

    Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Thank you, Helen. Thanksgiving can begin now! A happy one to you and yours, and to everyone still hanging out on the porch. *cheers*

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Blessed be the tie that binds us to Margaret and Helen Blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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  37. BOOM! AWESOME!!!!

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  38. Dear Helen,
    Gotcha on the Jello. However, this year that limits the salads. Anything with romaine like spring salad, Caesar salad, cranberry walnut with romaine salad, has been put down and out by the CDC For KILLER Bacteria. They don’t know what company but jsuspect the Yuma AZ water area. (But they’re not sure). You can soak romaine in a half gallon of water and 3/4c of white vinegar for a half hour, first cutting off the core end high enough for the leaves to separate. Is this a magic no fail cure? No, but vinegar kills most bacteria. If you decide to go with romaine, I hope you have two or three bathrooms or at least provide disposable diapers for the trip home.
    I find Jello salad to be a treat as I only have it a couple of times a year but understand not wanting a colorful carpet at the hands and feet of the very young and old.

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  39. Happy Thanksgiving! So glad to hear from you – you have been missed.

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  40. Happy Thanksgiving!!! Thank you for a great way to start the Holiday weekend!

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  41. Love each and every post! You are on my blog roll but I try to always point it out to others. Right on…..now at 76, I just go to my son’s house and that way, I don’t cook or anything else. It IS perfect. Well, I do contribute a couple of pies, but after all the years of all the stuff, it is a joy!

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  42. I love all your rules but the ‘no Jello’ rule. I actually like jello salads on the holidays. Please don’t block me from your blog for saying that.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. May you have a joyful Thanksgiving with well behaving youngsters. And no jello anything

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Another perfect post–I love you ladies!!

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  45. I love your rules. I hate jello salad, always have. And I feel the same way about dippers. Have a great Thanksgiving.

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  46. Love your posts!
    Have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving 💕

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  47. Wait, not even tomato aspic?

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  48. Bacon grease. The secret ingredient!

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  49. At 69 myself, I love your Thanksgiving rules every year. They lift me up, before I start my cooking of the day…

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  50. Helen I love you and your rules!!!

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  51. Again a great post. Have a great Thanksgiving and I hope no one brought jello salad. lol

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