The Thanksgiving Letter

November 26th, 2009

The Thanksgiving Letter - Thanksgiving

 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.


3,035 Responses to “The Thanksgiving Letter”

  1. Brandi says:

    Being organized is fine, but there’s no need to be a drill sargeant! What a fruit loop.

  2. Mary says:

    So, did they bring the pies?

  3. ty says:

    I guess Amy is the one that sent in the letter, and I am guessing she didn’t bring a pie. I am also guessing she’s the black sheep of the family.

  4. CarrieM says:

    I own several casserole dishes with lids, and not one of them could have something stacked on top it, unless you were willing to balance something on a round knob about the size of a nickel. Marney’s living in a fantasy world where she writes regulations on casserole dishes.

  5. Kim Tennison says:

    Marney, I can’t say I’d be much different if I had to organize a large family meal, but I probably would have addressed each person individually as is more my style. And critics, keep in mind that with family, you can be a little more blunt that you would with strangers. But my favorite part that made me laugh out loud was when you addressed the one relative and you said “I don’t know why I’m even writing this — you won’t even read it!” Priceless!

  6. J. W. says:

    Oh my goodness this was LOL funny! :)

    I don’t take Marney as seriously as many others do.
    I just laugh at people like Marney who have control issues and I actually feel sorry for people like her. It must be tough to go through life so frustrated that nothing in life is perfect.

    I remember a Thanksgiving dinner years ago where my sister-in-law came into my wifes kitchen and began ordering things around. Dear Lord, my daughter and I just loooked at each other in horror. I thought every woman was taught growing up what a faux paus it is to tell another woman how to run her kitchen, even I knew this as a man. My wife was so apoplectic I was worried that she was going to kill her.

    Needless to say we still laugh about that memory to this day. :)
    Moments like this are what make for great memories, who is going to remember the boring old Thanksgiving where nothing happened? ;-)

    You Go Marney!

    Blessings to all.

  7. Peter says:

    If I received a note like this before Thanksgiving dinner (regardless of who it came from), I would politely decline and make alternative plans. I have hosted large Thanksgiving dinners, as have most of my family members, and it is common to make suggestions for what people should bring and how they should bring it. But Marney’s passive aggressiveness and barely concealed contempt for her guests is staggering (I was hoping this sense would have been mitigated by the interview, but it was reinforced). You can be organized without being obnoxious, and you can be rational without being rude. And if her friends and family truly are as dim as she strongly suggests in the original note, she should just save herself the headache and let somebody else host dinner next year.

  8. Elaine- says:

    ok, and i’m assuming her contribution to her own dinner was a triple batch of heebee topped with geebees (you know mike)… the woman is obviously not quite right in the head on more levels than could be counted by a trained therapist…. but i would probably be insane too if i had to have dinner parties, rather than sit at my computer and ignore all holidays…. just hope nobody’s pet rabbit turns up as the main course, and that michael douglas stays away from this chick…

  9. Jen says:

    I live in France now and am happy I don’t have to deal with Thanksgiving. No Marney either But I love this letter as much as I did years ago when it first surfaced here. : )

  10. Caz says:

    WOW!! Wouldn’t you just loooooove to spend the holidays with Marney!

  11. Alicia says:

    God, she’s Stepford-ish.

  12. Rebecca says:

    Goodness, why all the hate for Marney? I think a lot of people just don’t understand what all effort has to go into organizing a meal for a large group of people. If you don’t help them along, you end up with just a main dish, six bags of chips and a one liter bottle of ginger ale (I’m serious, I’ve seen it happen). Other than a few passive-aggressive jabs, I didn’t find the letter to be in bad taste at all. I know a lot of people are thinking that Marney is a neurotic control freak, but I see her as a meticulously organized woman who gets stuff done.

    And a side note about the turnips- Perhaps the family that was asked to bring them was asked to do so because they are the main ones of the bunch who like them and that was the easiest way to accommodate.

    • Kelwos says:

      really? You don’t see this letter as all kinds of cray-cray? When I’ve hosted, if someone asks me what to bring, I’m happy to let them know. But I wouldn’t dream of being that specific, and I would never be so militant about it, either. And I would disagree about the “passive aggressive jabs;” she’s pretty much in the face of the poor girl who’s an adult now. No passive aggressiveness there!

  13. MusicMommy says:

    This is insane.
    We did Thanksgiving dinner at my great aunt’s house this year, and yes, she called me about a week before and asked if I would make my green bean casserole. She called my other aunt and asked her if she would make her pies because she is the one that does my great great grandmother’s recipe the best. She asked someone else for stuffing, because it was what they did best. She asked one of the younger girls to bring the tea, sweet and unsweet… not because she can’t cook, but because she is just starting out in the world and, while we have all donated pots and pans to her kitchen, she knew that this young girl did not have the means in her kitchen to make a side dish for 40 people…. the list goes on and on. She did the same thing this woman did, but she did it in such a way that no one felt bad about what they were doing. She asked specific people for specific dishes based on what they are able to do, and (like my casserole) the thing they are best at doing. It was done kindly and with love. Thanksgiving dinner went over beautifully. We all pitched in so no one family carried the financial burden. (She did buy a huge turkey, and we also had a ham… because her son got lucky in his hunt last weekend and killed a beautiful hog… that was their contribution)…And the younger set.. .the teenagers and those who are in town visiting and have no way to prepare something… those were the ones who were asked to help with the washing up. When we left all my Aunt had to do was to throw some table cloths in the washing machine and put away the dishes. She accomplished the same thing as the woman who wrote this letter, a neat, organized meal with everyone helping out and no doubles of any dish… But she did it in a loving manner that made us all feel glad to help out and be a part of our family’s time together.

  14. Merry says:

    Marney, if you read this, I think your way of running a major holiday is top notch. Honestly, it’s people like you who get things done and done well. Who wants to sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with a turkey and 15 bags of chips? I’d much rather prefer being told exactly what to bring than worry about bringing something that five other might bring, too. Keep fighting the good fight, Marney! You’re a solid hostess.

    • LadyEzmerelda says:

      You poor abused child.If you dont know the difference between being asked politely and with respect what to bring for a family gathering then you probably have a whole host of hidden issues amid a heap of denial that a qualified and experienced therapist could really help you with.

  15. Liza says:

    Thaaaaaaat was awkward.

  16. Lurtle says:

    I have commented before but I’m not going to search through the many, many comments to find it…

    Watching the video changed the letter for me. Seeing Marney’s glare and her obvious uptightedness made me see the letter as even more hostile than I originally did. I understand wanting things to be nice and wanting everyone to enjoy the day, but really? Is the world going to end if someone brings their potatoes in a non-regulation-size dish?
    I would be very sarcastic and passive-aggressive when bringing my dish. It would be exactly what she says NOT to do.
    The comment about Lisa contributing at an adult level especially irritated me. As a single woman, I get told all the time not to bring anything, it’s the wives who will take care of it. Only wives know how to cook, I guess (I only went to school for it and worked in the industry for 17 years, but hey, what do I know?)

  17. Drew says:

    OMG I feel so bad for her! I think we all need to lay off. I mean some people on here are talking about her as if she was a warden at a freaking concentration camp!! Geez! Ya some if the letter could have come across as nervy but it’s not the worst crime in the world to be super organized. At least she gets things done. People like here are what keeps the world turning!

    Marney- if you read this, just know that I for one admire your organizational skills. Keep those future thanksgiving dinners just as fabulous and glittertastic!

  18. Stewie says:

    I think her intentions were good, but her delivery was awful. I can see some of my family members feeling like her and wanting to give specific instructions like this but not doing it (including me). In the clip, she definitely seemed to want to be gracious to Amy, the one she instructed to bring pies, and refused to answer the question.

    The lids on a standard casserole dish (which is 9 x 13, not 12 inches) and stackability make SO much sense — you run out of counter space and it’s not possible to neatly stack varying sizes/shapes of casserole dishes, especially if they are covered with foil. Unless, of course, they really are all the same shape — then you can put the long length across the short length of the dish below.

    • AT says:

      I call BS on the lids thing………… if a “regulation” casserole dish is 9 x 13 then with tin foil all you have to do is cross stack them… the only way you can’t stack things with tinfoil covers are if they are ROUND – and I really doubt everyone in her family has the exact same size round casserole dish.

  19. Sal Paradise says:

    Marney needs professional help. Seriously. The video was even more awkward than the letter.

  20. Karen says:

    Marney should eat alone.

    • Daniel says:

      This is the best reply yet! Yes, she should eat alone!

      • Lurtle says:

        Ha! I dare someone in her family to drop off a Hungry Man turkey dinner, run through with a pie knife, the night before Thanksgiving, with a Post-It saying “Enjoy, Marney!”
        Maybe include a small thermos of Clos du Bois Chardonnay to make it Marney-ish.

  21. Rahvin says:

    1st world problems.

  22. Liliean says:

    marney should be sent to a third world country to see starving adults and children. After she might say Bring what you can and Thank God we have plenty of food.

  23. Patricia says:

    The interview… was even more awkward than the letter!

  24. Michelle says:

    I think this would be a good idea if she could just ratchet it back about six notches. I mean, yeah, you’ve got to make sure you don’t get nothing but desserts, but if everyone hates turnips, why bother with them? And what is with COMMANDING people to use certain recipes? That’s too much!

  25. hannah says:

    I wonder how the letter got leaked…. Was that family member kicked out afterwards? NO THANKSGIVING for you!

  26. Michael says:

    I was hoping the video would help clear things up in her favor.


  27. Mary says:

    I wish I were as organized as Marney. However, I would bring olives.

  28. Suzanne says:

    Wow, I’m just glad I never have to go to her house. Organization is great, but what a dull, boring time would probably be had by all. :(

  29. Mike says:

    I don’t know if I’m reading into Marney too much (delving into her mind …. a dark and scary place!), but one small reference that gave me a chuckle was under the Bob Byron family – telling them don’t use cheese, “you know how Mike is”. First thought … it gives him the farts (a common dairy complaint). You know, I love a good fart joke, so of course reading that I could see Marney recalling Thanksgivings past, where Mike ate the cheese and then cut the cheese throughout the holiday dinner. As my dad is fond of saying … in some countries, that is a compliment (along with belching loudly and often). Family …. you can’t live with them, and you can’t kill them!

  30. Nathalia says:

    When I read this years ago, I thought, “Oh my, I have to be careful not to end up like her”, you know, stay flexible and lovable, and be thought the nicest family member of all time… you know, the proper doormat, even if you burn inside with rage on the stupidity of these people.

    Years later, after having organized a few, even smaller, events I know the value of such a letter. She offers her home, cleans and decorates it, organizes everyone and everyone gets fed. She does not demand that they break their little heads during the pre-holiday stress thinking about what to bring, but she does not let them slip past with a can of kidney beans either.

    It does not mean that if one person forgets the serving spoon or one dish does not have a lid I go ballistic. It’s just so much easier to be flexible, if at least half the people brought lids and spoons. And I can tell from the video that that last person did not read the letter or bring anything. I have an aunt who thought that cooked cabbage in it’s cooking water is a nice Christmas dinner. I would propably ask her to bring flowers if I gave a large dinner in my home.

    That being said, when I reach this point of anger, I might just save my energy and cook myself a nice dinner and eat it in front of TV alone, and and let them figure out their favourite ways to spend the day on their own. Might be the best solution for everyone.

    • DLH says:

      I think your last paragraph makes a lot of sense – you clearly don’t care much for your family if you’re “seething with rage at the stupidity of these people” and make sarcastic comments about their “breaking their little heads”. It’s the same with Marney – her swipes at the last family on the list, as it turned out, were incorrect – they DID read the list and did bring what they were asked to. If I’d been treated so shabbily by family or “friends” I wouldn’t have turned up at all. The point, as most here have pointed out, is to have a good time together, enjoy each other’s company, and give thanks for what you have, not to show off your perfectly decorated home and turn your nose up at people you are supposed to love.

  31. Victoria says:

    What an insult to everyone. Madame is treating each grown up family member as if they were incompetent, unlikeable children, and made no effort to hide her disdain for their ineptness. I understand (and appreciate) being given ideas what to bring to family meals. Being ordered to use a specific recipe, utensils, dish size and color is simply over the top. I would rather skip the meal and have fast food with my family then sit through a dinner being glared at by the hostess for the hubris of displeasing her. I hope Amy read her part and brought pecan pies instead. STORE BOUGHT.

  32. Cynwri says:

    Does anyone actually have fun at this dinner? Is there good conversation and enjoyment from being together? Or is it an uncomfortable dinner where everyone feels that they have failed to live up to the standards set for the dinner? I understand wanting to have a nice put together meal… This is too strict and not a good start for a fun holiday get together.

    I wonder how she organizes the Black Friday shopping schedule. She probable has that down to a military precision.

  33. Ted says:

    Marney is AWESOME. She really was doing the family a service and everything she said makes sense. The world could use a few more like her.

    • ohmama says:

      I’m sure that Ted would sit back and enjoy the meal and not have to drive around on the night before thanksgiving to find a “regulation size casserole with lid”.

      This is psychotic. No other word for it. Control freak out of control.

  34. Lisa S says:

    Well…..that was a bit awkward…lol

  35. KRBoots says:

    Personally, I would rather be told exactly what to bring. I over think it otherwise! Marney supporter here!

  36. Tom says:

    Rich people. They’re all like this.

  37. carol rich says:


    • Unsinkable says:

      One would assume that Marney provided the turkey and gravy, as well as beer, probably wine, HER HOME, linens, plates, etc. Trust me, most people would rather bring a crappy casserole of turnips than host a huge dinner at their home. (Not me, I’m a glutten for punishment, but I wouldn’t send an email like that!)

  38. KayMee says:

    I too wondered what was meant by a regulation sized dish? She said 12 inches. I’ll bet her relative brought a 14 inch dish. The horror! Dinner is ruined! That had to be the single most joyless holiday meal. Ever. PS – everyone hates turnips, but we should have them anyway…because we’ve always done that and I say so.

  39. Darcy says:

    So flipping fantastic

  40. Karen H. says:

    Marney is a gem. I admire her ability to be direct and tell people what she needs. I think that letter comes from years of half-assed Thanksgivings because people just brought whatever they wanted and whatever was convenient for them. Marney reminds me of one those amazing church ladies who can throw together a Sunday lunch for 400 people in an hour. Every organization needs someone like her. Marney, you rock!

  41. Dianna says:

    You know, I’m not like Marney, but I think every family needs someone like her. Sure, she may be demanding, but I bet when she serves dinner everything is still warm. Personally, with my lackadaisical approach to culinary achievement, I’d appreciate her letting me know what I should bring, what kind of container to use and how much should go int the container, ok I”d probably roll my eyes at that, but I do it anyway, because Marney seems badass . I bet you can count on her to take of things, like chasing down photographers at wedding receptions or being the one person who holds everything together at the lunch after the funeral. She’d probably throw you a very nice baby shower, and would always remember to send a thoughtful card on your birthday-and of course, no matter what weird stuff you bought her for her birthday, she’d send a very nice thank you card. As much as we like to tease people like Marney, they’re often the reason why anything other than chips and salsa gets served at potlucks, and really for that reason, women like her are the glue that keeps families together.

  42. Cori P says:

    Kristen Wigg should do a sketch being Marney. What a weirdo, it would be perfect!

  43. Kathryn says:

    Wow, I bet it wouldn’t take much for everyone to make last minutes plans after receiving this. lol a bit controlling

  44. Bob says:

    Marney, I hope you read this: You are a control freak and you need counselling.

  45. Andrew says:

    My memory might deceive me but I thought this letter also included very definite instructions to each family member telling them what time to leave their home so they’d get to thanksgiving dinner on time? Has it been removed or did I imagine it?

  46. moopsie says:

    Here’s the way I’m doing it this year:

    I tell them what I’m making and that if they feel there is something missing from the menu, they can bring it themselves.

    This woman scares me (yes, I watched the video… I did not see sweetness, I saw masked embarrassment, incredulity, and rage). She reminds me of the cooperating teacher I was with while student teaching — I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown by the end of term because of how controlling and uptight she was. Her students didn’t like her either! I recommend yoga.

  47. Jenn says:

    This holiday season, I am thankful that I do not have a “Marney” in my family. :)

  48. Sue says:

    You go Marney!!! I love it!!! Obviously the people she has to do all this writing for do not have a clue
    Dont you think Marney has experienced them before … Yeah!!! they dont know how to entertain and do not have a clue how to do it … she supplied a nice place, her home … I bet that table and all the trims and her home is amazing with a incredible atmosphere… I love you Marney!!!
    Thanks to you !! you gave them a special meal!!

    • DLH says:

      No, she embarrassed them publicly, made a joyful event into a source of stress and resentment, and turned what could have been a good time into a militaristic bore. The setting should not matter – of course a nice meal and decor are great, but true friends and family can have a good time and be grateful for each other over a pot of chili or a pizza. The focus should be on enjoying each other’s company – and from the contempt she shows them, she clearly does not enjoy theirs – not on pulling rank, putting everybody down, and organizing an event people will be quick to leave – if they show up at all. The fact that this showed up online shows exactly how her family feels about her “special meal”.

  49. Don says:

    i’m pulling for Amy Misto!

  50. Amber says:

    And THIS is why I don’t do potlucks. It’s so much easier to plan a base dinner for a certain amount of people if I’m the one doing the cooking and prep. And coming from a large family, large quantities comes naturally.

    If someone wants to bring something, by all means, let them! We can add it to the pile :)

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