The Thanksgiving Letter

November 26th, 2009

The Thanksgiving Letter - Thanksgiving

ย submitted by Kara at

Listen to a dramatic reading of Marney’s famous letter.

After years of trying, Marney agreed to sit down with AFP and discuss her famous letter.

And now, you can get the official Marney Shirt! Image of regulation-size casserole dish included.


3,042 Responses to “The Thanksgiving Letter”

  1. Joan says:

    Marney’s letter could be straight out of a David Sedaris story. It’s really funny, and hard to write humor. I know she “couldn’t be more serious” but she just had to know SOMEONE would be laughing.

  2. Fatoperaguy says:

    Oh Marney. You are such a perfectionist. It’s spelled “prosciutto.” Remember: in Italian it’s i before u or the c sounds like q. Now drink your wine until you feel the need to go streaking.

  3. imtelling says:

    I host Thanksgiving dinner for a college basketball team, their families, Plus our family…in our home. I have NEVER had to play the ocd-neurotic meal planner card, it always turns out fine, everyone has enough to eat, we are happy to have anyone bring anything at all! It’s all about being together and making memories, and should I say it, being THANKFUL. Hmm, thus the holiday name??

  4. Jeanette says:

    Lisa should reply: As a married woman now, I will be celebrating Thanksging with the Chesterford clan.

  5. Rhonda says:

    Reading this letter makes me appreciate “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” even more…..I have 8 children, the two oldest are married, and believe me, I would *never* do this to them! Y’know, the people are what’s important, not whether or not there are mashed turnips!

    When they’re all here for a meal, I will usually tell them what we’re having, and ask for whatever they can bring—and if it’s a bag of chips or a storebought potato salad, wonderful! I just want to see them. And nobody goes away hungry… least, never for the love one finds in a family. I’m thinking Miss Marney has allowed herself to be blinded by appearances, and if it’s so stressful having people bring the “wrong” size dish, maybe she just needs to reconsider whether or not this meal should be held at her house.

    BTW, I *love* Hyacinth! and I’m thankful not to be related to anyone like her ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Maya says:

    OMG I love you Marney. You are my hero. I know how you feel. I hate when I go above and beyond for somthing, and then people don’t have the same respect, and you have to spell things out for people or they will not do what they are supposed to do. Its like people have forgotten how to be a guest and vice versa for hostess. There’s nothing worse than a bad hostess. I am sure if your family followed the plan your Thanksgiving turned out awesome.

    And another possible explanation for a letter of this degree is that, the rest of the family could be complete cheap a$$es or white trash who dont know how to be a proper guest in a persons home.

    all in all GO MARNEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Phil says:

    I’m with the ‘Amy Misto Family’. If I knew this super anal retentive letter was coming each year I definitely would not read it either, and then I would bring pies baked by any old recipe I choose, or maybe even store bought to really send Marney through the roof!!!!!

    One rule for Thanksgiving at my house; if your bringing food, bring it ready to serve!

  8. Spazzn says:

    I think Marney is awesome!

  9. Devilsporkchop says:

    Does anyone know how this turned out? I would love to know. Marney sounds very frustrated from years of lame participation….

  10. Cameron says:

    It’s always a happy thanksgiving when Hitler is running the show.

  11. Rebecca says:

    I like what etiquette books say, and they’re clear: Pot luck is okay, but it needs to be just that – pot luck. It’s not really your party, it’s everybody’s party – you’re providing the place. In that case you take what you get and you’re happy to have it. But if you want control, if you want to make it YOUR party, you don’t invite more people than you can cook for and you provide it yourself. Otherwise, it becomes a case of you throwing a dinner and making other people do the work.

    • CarrieM says:

      Good point!

    • Jen says:

      Agreed. I throw a few parties every year. For my dinner parties, I tell people not to bring any food (though they are free to contribute alcohol). For potluck-style parties, I let people know what I’m making/providing and then they can bring whatever they want to supplement it, though I do ask that people let me know ahead of time what they’re bringing so that we don’t end up with 6 crock pots of meatballs or everyone bringing chips and dip. ๐Ÿ˜‰ However, if people don’t respond with what they’re bringing and just show up with whatever, it’s no big deal. We roll with it.

  12. Jessie says:

    What is a regulation size casserole dish? Who regulates that?

    I would so mess this up on purpose – oh, you said no soup spoons? And I thought I’d go a little crazy this year and bring an apricot pie instead of apple. – and watch the reaction.

  13. Lauren says:

    Holy Crap! …. you have saints for family members and friends after reading this ….. > why is she even asking for turnips then? … why does she have exact pound/ounce measurements for how much someone should bring of any one dish?…. what is the difference between a serving spoon and a soup spoon?!?

    • Nicole says:

      The difference between a serving a soup spoon is generally how deep the spoons are, and the curve off the handle. A soup spoon is more like a ladle, with the handle coming off the top of it, as opposed to off the corner of the “spoon”, and a serving is just a very large spoon. However, regardless of the type of spoon, it hardly matters. Unless its soup, which its not. Not contradicting your statement, im totally with you. Just letting you know that technically, there is a difference.

  14. Erin says:

    hahaha! Thankfully my family are not like this at all. I don’t think i would go to a dinner where the person in charge was so demanding. I also think if I was her, I wouldn’t host dinner anymore.

    • Jennifer says:

      This reminds me of the Spongebob Squarepants episode where he decides to plan a party. 7:00 – pin the tail on the donkey, 7:13 – dancing…

  15. Elliott says:

    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 donโ€™t feel like you a have to feed an army.

    Why the hell make a turnip casserole if, as you say, “most of us hate turnips’?

  16. hbanana7 says:

    I could not find anything funny about this letter. (Having had my share of control freaks, it’s worse when they cover it up with saccrharine) Just very disturbing, and choking for air. I know how difficult it is to host a big family dinner, but she is going Hitler on them. Do it her way, or pay the consequnces.

  17. Jeannie says:

    I have a feeling that anyone making fun of Marney have not hosted a large family dinner where people show up w/o enough food for the headcount, others show up with raw ingredients then want to prepare their dish when it’s time to sit down and eat, and many more people who are supposedly bringing dishes and show up and say things like “do you have a platter I can use?” “can I use your oven?” “do you have a serving spoon?” “do you have a bowl or basket for the (fill in the blank)”. I’ve hosted sooo many large family events and sometimes people bringing things makes it 3 times harder than doing everything myself. My sister told me Marney’s letter was hilarious so I read it and to be honest with you, it has certain elements that are a little funny but for the most part, I agree with how explicit she has to be. I have a feeling she’s speaking from experience.

    • Sandi says:

      Yes, you are correct. This is usually necessary for those who always sign up to bring paper goods or rolls!

      • Emily says:

        You’re right. I’m still 12 but my mom I think is semi-neurotic. She always needs things to be organized. This can be annoying sometimes, but in the end giving people EXACT instructions now can save my mom and me from copious amounts of work and preporation later. I have to admid though- why cant they use aluminum foil? I find to be a great insulator.

        Just saying.

    • hushupp says:

      You make the dinner more important than the peop;e. Isn’t the point to be together , warts and all?? Family, family, family is what it’s all about!! If you don’t want the disorganization, then don’t offter to be host or hostess.

      • Lynn says:

        AGREED! It IS about togetherness, family or friends! You turn nazi, you won’t have either! If you choose to host, YOU do just THAT- HOST! You make everything and welcome everyone with open arms! You start prepping DAYS prior & you make enough to send leftovers home with anyone who wants them. Drop the attitude, drop the entitlement and act like a generous human being.

    • Jada says:

      My Thanksgiving is always 40+ and we never plan more than “bring a side dish” or “bring a salad”. Everything always turns out awesome, there’s always WAY too much food, and we all have a great time. Of course, I don’t think we care if good food comes in a 5 gallon plastic bucket or a pure silver dish, as long as it tastes good.

    • Mel says:

      my family is quite large and we always bring what you offer or what is needed. all you need to know is about how many to make for… we have never had a problem with there being not enough food. Usually it is there is TOO much food. I am saying this from someone who thinks a small thankgsgiving dinner is about 25 people….

  18. Steph says:

    Some of these things shes instructing make sense, like the size of the foods to bring and telling them to bring it ready to serve, but to go as far as controlling the the spoon type and what kind of container it has is just crazy. This woman is off her rocker.

  19. Rob says:

    There’s no way in the world I would have gone to that Thanksgiving dinner after receiving such a letter.

    • Not an expert says:

      And I wouldn’t have missed it for the world! I’ll bet it was a nervewracking day for all, and I would’ve loved to have felt the tension.

  20. rhonda says:

    What exactly is a regulation size casserole?

  21. AA@MGR says:

    I laughed and laughed reading this. Having hosted many large family dinners and potlucks at work, I can understand why Marney might feel compelled to give such explicit instructions. I can relate to her frustrations as I have experienced the person, now married and with kids of her own, who still feels that mom’s contribution covers her and her brood, the person who thinks that a 1-cup container of green beans will be enough to feed 24 people and my very own sister who arrived with bags of raw ingredients and cleared off counters while demanding use of various appliances so that she could cook her contribution and left all the mess for me to clean up.
    However tempted I might be I won’t send out a letter like this even though there are a few deserving recipients.
    If I was bothered to the point that Marney seems to be then I’d either stop hosting or would suggest that we all go to a restaurant. Still, very funny and the more I think about it….I’ll start my letter.

  22. Ogey says:

    I wonder if June has the appendix so she has the exact measurements on a “regulation size casserole”.

  23. Robyn says:

    I bet Amy Misto (the one who will never read this) submitted the letter. I imagine she is the rebel hero who never follows Marney’s directions and intentionally brings store bought platters and a teaspoon as a serving spoon.

  24. Karen says:

    OMG – I have a sister-in-law that is like this. It’s no wonder no one likes her! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  25. darlean says:

    I would have honestly, and I mean honestly, sent an email saying that we regret we would not be able to attend, as we’d been invited elsewhere. I so mean this.

  26. Catherine says:

    If Lisa is required to contribute at an ‘adult level’ what the hell does Marney get the kids doing? Are they down the basement peeling, dicing and slicing til their ickle fingers bleed?

    • Kelly Burford says:

      LOL Catherine, I missed that in the first read, but great point! I wonder what the “kids” level instructions were like!

  27. Leah says:

    I wonder if they all knew what they were getting into when they *offered* to help! Of course, poor Lisa is “required to contribute at an adult level” I might skip getting married if that’s the reaction my family would have.

    I do admit, I wish I could actually SAY some of these things to my contributors. A brother in law once brought about 5 pounds of Jelly Bellies for “dessert.” LOL

  28. Michell says:

    Oh My God!! Please tell me this is the same person for “Jack’s 1st Birthday Party”!! I was laughing sooo hard when I was reading it, but when I scrolled down and saw the name a whole new round of laughter attacked me! This lady is seriously insane. Jeeze, like what the hell is SHE doing to contribute to this Thanksgiving dinner??!

    • ali says:

      …drinking, hopefully!

      • Sandi says:

        Well, I didn’t see any meat involved so she must be cooking one heck of a big turkey, ham and gravy and homemade rolls and some more desserts, tea, coffee, paper goods, etc PLUS she is having this bunch to her house, and I’ll bet they don’t help clean up. Maybe she’s just been burned waayyy too many times. I was raised on many extended family dinners, and I know what she has been up against.

        I wish I could get a letter like that; I would be glad to cook whatever she asked to be able to be with family once again.

  29. Gary says:

    Uh yeah, If you sent me a letter like this and you are serious I would send you one back telling you to take your panties out of a wad and get a grip you would be lucky that I would even bother to come over and spend time with you… You don’t bark orders be grateful for the fact you have that family and they do come to see you at all..

    • Emily says:

      You dont know what it is like for the person hosting the party. You should be thankful to even be invited. Sending this letter probably saved the sender from alot of clean up time and frustration at her guests for not bring their dishes prepared of something like that. Her family might also be really ignorant and dont like follow vauge instructions.
      Dont be so mean.

  30. Jennifer says:

    Wow, I am so grateful that my family is laid-back. My aunt hosts Thanksgiving every year- she likes to do all the cooking (just because she loves to cook) but she knows that cooking for 30-40 people can be crazy. So when she calls us up to see who is all coming, we also start a list of who is bringing what item. Nothing specific- just a dessert, or a veggie, etc. Those of us who can cook bring a dish, those who can’t bring soda, wine, extra chairs, etc.

    It works out just fine every year.

    I get the part about having a lid for the container but who cares what kind of container the food is in? The important part is spending time with your family and having a nice time.

  31. Crystal says:

    I personally liked “Now, while I do have quite a sense of humor and joke around all the time, I COULD NOT BE MORE SERIOUS …”. I do not picture Marney having a good sense of humor OR joking around all the time!

  32. brandie says:

    i would love that – just tell me what you want me to bring. easier that way.
    But my guess would be, like my family, no matter what you do, you won’t make it the way she wanted anyway… lol

  33. Denise :) says:

    I used to work for a couple who hosted the staff Christmas party every year. When the wife sent out the sign-up sheets for what people could bring, she was very specific about itemizing what folks could bring and provided the recipes for any of the foods that were on the list–and expected us to use them. The first two years I played. After that, I signed up for paper plates. LOL! ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. Jen says:

    Marney would be eating by herself if this was MY family! Geesh! Who died and made her boss?

  35. Delvante says:

    Well…I’d say we should put her in jail and see if she can’t “organize” that mess? lol…

  36. Carlos says:

    You just know her parties are super fun! How much you wanna bet Marney drinks all that Clos du Bois chardonnay and starts telling people exactly what she thinks of them. I say everybody tell her to take a flying leap at the moon, go out to a fancy restaurant for Thanksgiving, and then send her pictures telling what a great time you had WITHOUT HER!

  37. Bob Rice says:

    Hi Marney, here’s my 15 pound turnip casserole, covered with foil; sorry, it’s a little big for the dish, so it may get sloppy. Do you have a serving spoon I can borrow?

  38. Judy says:

    I am astonished that my mother hasn’t done the “official letter thing” like this. She only recently trusted anyone to bring anything other than drinks, napkins, paper plates, etc. Since everything has to be cooked to her specifications, she just does all the cooking herself. I’m sure now she’ll be starting her Thanksgiving letter around Independence Day with much more meticulous detail. God help us all! (Be afraid! Be very afraid!!)

    • Margaret says:

      My parents usually insist on doing almost everything! Mom wants the Norman Rockwell photo. We never got one… That’s why I stay at MY home now!!

  39. Carol says:

    “The Lisa Byron Chesterford Family
    1. Lisa as a married woman you are now required to contribute at the adult level. ”

    Run Lisa! Move far, far away before the neurosis infects you too! Okay, maybe it’s my contrary nature, but I would seriously write back and say “How about I bring you MY very special dish which everyone will love and rave about for years, and you go micromanage your husband and kids or take a vallium?”

  40. Krista says:

    BAHAHAHAHA! This sounds exactly my wacko Aunt! One time at a Christmas get together she made lists of all the chores she wanted done around the house and signed people up to do them for her. She volunteered my cousin who was sick with the flu to shovel her driveway because “the fresh air will be good for him!” Classic!

  41. M says:

    Oh my. This is my mother all over (sort of). Only, the other families (not Amy Misto- aka my aunt V’s family and my Uncle K’s family) are equally intense. There is perhaps slightly less attention to detail and general bossiness, but I am fairly certain that the 2003 US invasion of Iraq took place with less planning than some of our family gatherings.
    Although my mother has a rare gift- she could probably write this letter and it would come off sounding polite and perfectly reasonable.

    • Victoria says:

      “I am fairly certain that the 2003 US invasion of Iraq took place with less planning than some of our family gatherings.”


  42. MySisterIsNuts says:

    I had my sister read this, she couldn’t see what was wrong with it. She sided with Marney!! :O

    • Kayla says:

      LOL you have a future Marney on your hands!

    • Mybrotheriscoocoo says:

      My best friend read this and wondered what was wrong, too. When I told her she was EXACTLY like that she said, really? So, they just don’t know. They are so used to bossing people around, they think it’s NORMAL. That’s what makes this sooooo funny.

  43. Hazel says:

    Is this for real? Is this a real family invite? OMG I thought my family was wird and my mother was controlling – now i feel like I have to apologise!

  44. Scoutbob says:

    i can just hear the convesation between Mike, Bob, Lisa, Michelle, June and Amy…

    MiKE: ‘So, what’s the plan here?”

    BOB: “I’m not doing any of this. She can just suck it!”

    AMY: “What are you talking about?”

    LISA: “I know what we should do! Let’s swap assignments”

    MICHELLE: ‘If i don’t bring a plate, how am I supposed to get that damn Proscuitto pin wheel there, on my head?”

    AMY: “What are you guys talking about?”

    JUNE: “15 POUNDS of mashed potatoes? Am I supposed to weigh them after they’re cooked?”

    AMY: “Will someone please tell me what you are talking about?”

  45. Kim E. says:

    I’m with Amy Misto! I wouldn’t read Marney’s letter either except to laugh about it with my friends. Someone else would have to bring the pies. Perhaps the Michelle Bobble family could do it since they are bringing the pie knife. LOL

    • liz says:

      Come on now we all know Amy has not only read this letter but also posted it on the bulliten board at work and emailed it massively and her entire company is laughing at marney!

  46. Will says:

    This is *exactly* what my MIL does. Tells people to bring something then tells them how to or NOT to fix it. She was all I could think about while reading this.

  47. I like the sound of Amy Misto – she seems to have the right idea about this lunatic woman!

  48. Linkzoo says:

    If this type of person were in my family and in charge of any holiday prep, we would have declined her offer to participate years ago! She’s nuts! Talk about putting a damper on a great holiday get-together…

  49. Jean says:

    Two things came to mind as I read this: I pray to God she NEVER reproduces, and, If it’s too late to pray for that, I pity the children.

    Ach, if only we could all be as perfect as her–no thanks!! LOL!!

  50. Captain Obvious says:

    Borderline Personality Disorder, anyone?

    Holy S$*#. What a nightmare of a human being. Run away!!

    • E says:

      I have Borderline Personality Disorder. I would NEVER do that, nor anyone else I know with BPD. If WE think she’s crazy… well, she’s just plain crazy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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