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. Roberta says:

    Marney, please spend this next Thanksgiving serving food at the mission for homeless folks who appreciate the meal no matter what size serving spoon you use.

  2. CJ says:

    Ok in slight defense of Marney as I am a cook and regularly hold large parties every three months some of this makes sense… some of it mind you.. based on her portions to be brought by the various families I’d say there was at least 30 ppl expected to come to dinner. I have cooked for 40 and it was an exhausting 3 day event after which I started asking our friends to bring a dish.. we ended up with lots of booze/wine and veggies the first time, and then ordering pizza lol. so coordinating who is bringing what and the amounts makes sense.. what type of container it gets brought in really does not make much sense unless you are trying to get a spot in Better Homes and Gardens…Now my mother always wanted a Norman Rockwell type of holiday event and she was always disappointed because it just never happened (we are not a NR family we are more like the Simpsons) so a slight bit of advice Marney.. laugh when you get nothing but veggies and booze and go order a few pizzas and play some poker or watch a movie with the kids. The memories from that will be well worth the lack of great eats.

    • Laurie says:

      I have to quibble with the comment about container size. It is a nightmare when 5 or 6 families show up with irregularly shaped trays or novelty dishes and expect you to magically have room in the refrigerator and/or oven.

  3. Michele says:

    Why does she want turnips if nobody likes them? Just to punish her guests?

  4. Meg says:

    BWAHAHA! There is not enough clos du bois chardonnay IN THE WORLD for this party!

  5. DC says:

    Dear Marney,
    Okay – no lids, extra spoons. Got it. Is there a hand-truck I can borrow? I threw out my back last year making the 30 lbs of yam casserole and it’s still a little achy.
    June Davis

  6. Kelly says:


    If you are assigned a dish with a lid, please ring the doorbell twice and take 10 steps to reach the kitchen counter, place your dish neatly to the right of the previous dish and place it down using gentle manner, also keep it nice and straight (I am talking to you Lisa Byron!)

    If your dish is a pie, ring the doorbell 26 times at 3 second intervals and take 17 steps to reach the counter, and your pie crust better have a huge M in it.

    Last but not least, if your dish container is blue (and large), turn around and take your ass home!

  7. Nicolette says:

    “As a married woman you are now required to contribute at the adult level.” Jesus. I’m thinking Marney could use a strong dose of reality, or a punch in the face. I’m baffled at how a person can justify such behavior.

  8. Sharon says:

    LMAO … can we say major A type personality?!

  9. SueInCincy says:

    I have a friend whose assignment for in-laws TG was once “bring a loaf of white bread.” She’s not married to that guy anymore.

  10. JFS in IL says:

    My family – one person is allergic to corn in all forms. Another can not tolerate eggs. Several are lactose-intolerant. Others won’t eat any sauces or gravy except tomato “gravy” (as they call it) on pasta. My in-laws refuse to salt anything. It is a joy to cook for those people :-(

  11. JFS in IL says:

    Sounds like a Kate Gosselin Thanksgiving (if she allowed relatives in the house anymore). What a micro-managing control freak!

  12. Blucat says:

    600 responses to this?! that’s just insane!

  13. Veronique says:

    I definitely had a similar reaction as most when I read this letter, but is it possible we are judging Marney just a little too harshly. Sure her methods and tone are off-putting. But Marney sounds like a women who thinks her family deserves the best and she is willing to do what it takes to get it for them.

    Look at how many families come to her Thanksgiving. This is obviously a rockin’ party. I imagine everyone has a good time and gets a good meal when she hosts the holiday gathering. I also hypothesize while everyone most likely makes jokes about Marney behind her back (or in front of her if they are like my family), they are secretly thankful that someone takes the lead and employs some quality control.

    So to Marney, you could probably be more popular if you relaxed on some of the details, but I for one, commend your courage to be who you are and stick with your high standards.

    • Rich says:

      You’re confusing “standards” with “personality disorder”.

    • MJ says:

      A lot of people coming does NOT mean it is a rockin’ party – it just means that miserable family members feel that they “must” attend. Had I received this letter I’d bring a fifth of Bourbon and a bag of Doritos – with no spoon.

  14. bryan simmons says:

    What a lunatic. Why do we put up with people like this?

  15. crispy says:

    thats so snobby…what is the deal

  16. BellaMoxie says:

    This letter reminded me of one of the many perks of no longer being married to my now ex-husband. Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday. . .until we had to go to my ex’s grandmother’s house for it. We weren’t ALLOWED to bring anything and had exactly the same bland crap every year. If you sat somewhere she didn’t want you to sit she made you move to your ASSIGNED seating, tough s**t if you were having a conversation.

    The woman required that 20 people attend but, had one usable love seat and a white couch nobody was allowed to sit on so good luck watching any football comfortably. My favorite part was the nobody was allowed to take a bite of their pie and ice cream until she sat down at the table. We all know that by the time grandma cuts up pie and dishes out 20 servings of ice cream (and dilly-dallies around the kitchen to make sure everyone is really squirming) you are pretty much going to have to eat your ice cream with a straw.

    Now every Thanksgiving I love making turkey and other yums and watching football in HD on my 42″ flatscreen and I can SMEAR myself with ice cream if I want. Yay! Thanksgiving is fun again!!

  17. Rachel says:

    I swear, if I was one of the receivers of this letter, I’d show up with a can of mustard sardines and a box of toothpicks.

  18. Father Tim says:

    I shall bring the wine my child.

  19. Jan says:

    Thanks! I really liked her e-mail, having several stories about Thanksgivings gone wrong. Now, I don’t celebrate, but enjoy the memories of past years, when the oven quit with a 25 pd turkey, no other ovens available, and 15 people coming…. this was before cell phones, and they were all traveling. Other years, when Mom invited herself, George invited himself, and his blond to the bone ditzy wife and her 10 pounds of uncooked broccoli,, when I had a two burner stove. Oh, how I miss that stress….

  20. anglophile says:

    So, as a middle-aged yet unmarried woman, I get to skate by on just contributing at the kid’s level? Sweet! I’ll bring the dill pickles and the olives.

  21. Steph says:

    Jesus, this woman sounds as pernickerty as the haridan who runs our local freecycle group!!

    I feel sorry for Amy.

  22. HRB says:

    Hey, don’t go, there is always chinese

  23. rainbowskydancer says:

    Marney needs to come have thanksgiving with me and my black family… we would set her straight. I promise you she wont pull that list out ever again… Then Amy can come out of hiding and get herself a Thanksgiving meal for once.

  24. PJB says:

    What is a “regulation size casserole dish?” Who set these regulations?

    • MacBastard says:

      Why, the PCMA (Professional Casserole Makers Association). They set the rules and regulations for casserole in North America. Why, there isn’t a hotdish that their influence has left untouched. In fact, ESPN2 will be broadcasting their events starting this fall when the season starts again, culminating in the Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup CasseroleClysm held at the Minnesota Metrodome on Thanksgiving Day!

    • natalie says:

      that was my first thought! or maybe second, after, “poor lisa.”

  25. MRMV says:

    I’m pretty sure my sister-in-law is headed down this path. She’s completely overbearing, and controls every holiday the same way. Even when we visit for a simple meal, she has to tell us where to sit (there are only 7 or 8 of us at the most). Every Christmas, she determines the order we all go in to open presents. Heck, she picks out all of her own presents and wraps them herself! How could she trust anyone but herself to pick out a decent gift! I’m anxiously awaiting an email detailing our next holiday meal!

    • jean says:

      Wow. The last time anyone in my family told anyone where exactly to sit at the dinner table was when my nephew was 4. That didn’t last long, thank God.

      • jjmblue7 says:

        And generally the youngest kid gets his/her gift first and the next youngest, and so on until teenagers (then whoever) so there’s no tantrums.

  26. sweeney says:

    Suggested Response to letter:

    I also have some minor requirements which will help make this Thanksgiving a success:

    1)At the table I expect a padded chair with arms at the table, but the seat cover must not be red or any other shade that will not coordinate with my lavender outfit,

    2)Before and after dinner I will need a seat on the sofa, but I will only share with one other person and only if this is a real sofa and not a loveseat. Once again, it is important that the sofa not be green, red or any other color that will clash with my lavender outfit. Actually, I feel compelled to insistthat you repaint your living room walls since I will be wearing a very nice outfit and the greenish shade of your living room walls will NOT work with it. The wallpaper in your dining room is not ideal, but I will try to cope with it since, as you know, I am one of the most tolerant people you will meet.

    3) For background music, I have to insist that you get a tape of the Urban Slugs, the new Norwegian New Age Punk band. I REALLY don’t feel there is anything else worth listening to these days and their CDs are a bargain at $60, considering they are made of totally recycled zebra dung.

    4) Like everyone else last year, I found your children dreadfully annoying so we would all like you to rent a couple of acceptable children this year. The day rental rates are reasonable, particularly if you select ones who only speak Somali. Of course, we all think you should economize & go for the yearly rental.

    5) In regard to your husband, please see note 4.

    Please consider this just a preliminary. I will be contacting you later with some of my more important needs. I anticipate your cooperation,

    Cousin Suzette

  27. Maddie says:

    What’s not to be thankful for?

  28. chiffonade says:

    Holy crow! Are there really people in the world this controlling? I’d pass on any holiday thrown by this woman. And hope that she gets visited by 3 ghosts, including Emily Post, Sigmund Freud and Erma Bombeck. This woman has GOT to learn to laugh at herself. Everybody else is…

  29. Larry N says:

    This is really a fake letter or somebody is due a little crossbow action.

  30. Amy says:

    You go, Amy!!!! Ignore the email and bring whatever the hell you want!!! Or bring nothing but yourself. That’s enough!!!

  31. CalifChick says:

    “Each one of my children disappointed me not once, but many times”

    Perhaps if you had raised them better…


  32. I'm Watching says:

    I get it now! The picture of the Fourth of July “Babe with a Melon and a Glock” was mislabeled – that was actually Amy Misto, showing up at Marney’s front door on Turkey Day!

  33. Shemp says:

    Marney is missing the point of a Thanksgiving dinner – GRATITUDE! It’s the one US holiday I actually like, not because I get to roast a turkey but because I get to show my family and friends how grateful I am for everything I have, and how grateful I am that they came to my potluck luncheon with a frozen pizza asking me if I can just heat it up for them, and grateful that last year 75 people came to share a meal with me in my house, some of them empty-handed. Some of the food was simple s*** and some was imaginative and delicious, but it was all equally well received.

    • JerseyPam says:

      I’d rather go to Marnie’s, frozen pizza sucks.

    • yummy7942 says:

      I like your house. Sounds like a whole lot of fun. And I’ll bet everyone got fed and nobody died from the experience!

    • Jainee says:

      What time is dinner at your house this year? You sound like the kind of person I’d WANT to hang with on a holiday. I’m with you, Shemp. If all my guests showed up with bags of Ruffles and Mrs. Smith’s pies, I’d still be grateful for the junk food and the company.

  34. Jane says:

    Am I the only person completely smitten with Marney?

    She clearly has had all manner of sh*t to deal with, what with people bringing tiny serving spoons, gigantic impossible-to-pass tubs of mashed potatoes, plastic party platters, or absolutely nothing to the family Thanksgiving dinner. Or worse yet, bringing raw food and trying to cook their contributions at her house at the last minute.

    She’s the voice of reason in the foil-covered nightmare that has become their holiday meal. Plus I love how she uses the word “casserole” to mean “casserole DISH.” My only worry is what kind of lid will (or will not) end up on the stuffing.

    • Mel says:

      LOL Jane.

    • Kae says:

      I pretty much have a covered-dish, serving-spoon crush on the woman, myself. As one who appreciates good, quality, homemade food (not cut-for-a-week-and-dry-yet-slimy veggie platters, reconstituted potato flakes, etc.), I could certainly see myself using this letter, word for word–though I would obviously exchange the names as necessary. Some people just don’t understand how much work and stress one must endure for a fantastic family meal!

      • Snair says:

        Ugh in addition to Marney’s family, I now feel extremely sorry for your family.

      • didijoy says:

        very sad. Majority of us appreciate good,quality, homenmade food and understand the work involved. Stressload depends on the indiviudal. If you have a positive happy attitude where family is the crucial point of the dinner and not the food you will have less stress. If you have the “grit-my -teeth it has to be perfect or else!!” mindset
        no one enjoys being around you because you have created a toxic stressful environment with the perfect” fantastic family meal”. The food might be perfect but it sure is hard to swallow when everyone is subjected to “walking on egg shells” atmosphere. The best and funniest moments of life is the stupid unpredictable mistakes and comments that happen when you are with family and friends. Enjoy your family as they are – one day they will be gone forever. Perfection is a waste of time.

  35. Marney says:

    I was horrified to find that my very private Thanksgiving letter to my own dear family has been posted to this site, and judging by the majority of responses I could hardly bear to read, I have been grossly misunderstood. If I were the sort of person who cries, which I most certainly am not, I would be typing this response through a veil of tears.

    Some of you appear to believe that my instructions were perhaps a bit too detailed or demanding. However if you had lived, like I have, through countless holiday dinners with the Byron family, you would understand. Each one of my children disappointed me not once, but many times, in earlier times when I allowed far too much leeway to individual families regarding their meal contributions.

    The scars still have not healed from the infamous 1992 Fourth of July picnic when the June Davis clan actually brought their potato salad WITHOUT relish OR onion, in that horrid over-size blue serving dish that June seems to be so fond of. And do I even need to describe the 2001 Easter brunch when I was forced to serve lemonade made from POWDER, not fresh lemons as I asked, just because Amy Misto was too lazy to squeeze all 50 lemons before church?

    I could continue with countless other examples of ruined holiday meals, but I will leave you to your petty mockery of my attempts to make every Byron holiday a special time. I regret nothing, and my head is held high.

    • Mr. Marney says:

      Yes dear.

    • Larry N says:

      If I do bring a serving spoon you’ll never misplace it later on.

      • Liza Jane says:

        Wow, this is a really extreme letter. I have never heard of anyone giving instructions like this. And I thought FAMILY dinners were supposed to be fun, not PERFECT! My sister has had countless Thanksgiving Dinners and not ONCE has she ever given detailed instructions like this and all the dinners have went fabulously well. Guests usually ask my sister for a suggestion as to whether they should bring a vegetable dish, salad, dessert, drinks, whatever, and and she goes from there. It is really not worth getting all up in arms over a dish not being prepared or presented perfectly, and we’re not slugs by any means. But come on Ms. Marney, give the family a rest! :-)

      • Lisa Abby says:

        Hee hee ha ha I love Larry N’s response about the serving spoon!

    • Carmen says:

      HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! This was by far the best satirical response.

    • Annie says:

      *Sarcastic Talking* OMG, no onions or relish! Ahhhhhh! We will never eat it! And blue, Horrible, EVIL color!!! Ahhhhhhhhhh!

    • Annabelle says:

      It should be about spending time with your family and enjoying each other’s comany. Who really cares what type of dish aunt june brings her potato salad in? Maybe your dishes are ugly but no one wants to tell you. If you HAD to HAVE fresh squeezed lemons, you should have squeezed them yourself. Sounds like you are the petty one, dear.

      If these things ruin your holidays, there probably isn’t anything that coluld make you happy. I hope someday you will find out what really matters in life, before it’s too late.

      • yummy7942 says:

        amen sister! The only real tragedy is if you can’t be together due to illness, death, whatever. NOT powdered lemonade. (Oh the horror)

        • Steve says:

          Dear Marney,

          You really ARE a Type-A personality. If I were a betting man, one of these days you will be spending Thanksgiving alone and unloved. I hope you remove the stick out of your posterior, look around, and realize that you are blessed with family members who AT LEAST come to your house for Thanksgiving.

          That said, drink an entire bottle of Clos du Bois and lighten up, you ninny!

  36. Trish says:

    If I got a letter like this, one of 2 things would happen. I would either NOT attend dinner at her house, EVER, or, I’d attend and bring deviled eggs and tuna salad just to mix it up.

  37. piper says:

    Unbelievable!!! This woman is crazy, not to mention RUDE and UNGRATEFUL! You don’t invite people to dinner (any dinner FAMILY or otherwise) and then dictate how their suppose to do it. Maybe “suggest” certain things, but this chicks NUTS.

    I hope MARNEY spent Thanksgiving alone. Would serve her right!

  38. Filipa de Oliveira says:

    Ooooooh wow – that is crazy. I’m actually shocked – I’m sure all the food was great; providing you all brought the right serving spoons! :)

  39. Cindy says:

    I have a neighbor in my apartment building who I can absolutely see writing a letter like this. She imposes herself like this on people in the building.

    Her boundaryless, control freak ways are what got her FOUR children apprehended by Social Services.

    • Larry N says:

      Wish I lived in your building.I’d have the heifer using the stairs to avoid me.

    • jjmblue7 says:

      My friend has a neighbor a few houses down who treats everyone else in the neighborhood like this. One house he threatened to call the police if a neighbor didn’t take down icicle X-mas lights he didnn’t like. When he asked why his family was not invited to the yearly block party, my friend’s next-door neighbor told him, “Nobody likes an a******.”

  40. M says:

    Two words: Bree Olson

  41. Stephen! says:

    20-1 odds Marney spent Thanksgiving alone.

  42. Amy Misto says:

    Come on all. I don’t see what the big deal is. Ma Marney simply wanted me to make sure the pie I brought was wearing the proper attire. Although she DID “suggest” I use “her” recipe, it isn’t rocket science. You think this was the first year that she has sent something like this? You’re surprised to see that she KNOWS I wouldn’t reply? That is because I am the ACE of the family. I know Marney. She’s like an old book. Moby Dick, maybe. I know what’s coming, and I conquer. Everyone smiles when you bring pie, and they don’t notice when you leave early. Don’t ruin my ninja/stealth role.
    Slippery Misto.

    • yummy7942 says:

      Good for you Amy! Marney’s letter cracked me up. If you’re that particular about your table, then do it yourself and don’t ask people to bring anything. LOVE how she specifies the weights and the brand of wine. hahahaha

      And you’re right about the pie…unless, of course, you’re my sister in law who, when asked to bring pie for thanksgiving, decided to bring chocolate cake and lemon cake instead. What’s thanksgiving without Pumpkin pie????

      Or there was hubby’s aunt who brought this “pumpkin” pie that had god only knows what in it. It was HORRIBLE and we never let her bring dessert again.

  43. Sarah says:

    OMG — I can so see my sister writing this letter. I always do Thanksgiving dinner but her baby is Christmas Eve dinner. I expect that she is heading in this direction anyway because this past year was the first time she ALLOWED anyone to bring anything to her house and she tried to keep a tight rein on it.

  44. Charisse says:

    Insanity! While I too am a Virgo and a slave to MY OWN obsessive tendencies, I would never put this on anyone. My standards are only applicable to me and would I would NEVER judge friends or family for their dishes and/or presentation. It would just please me if they came and had a good time. I hope the recipients of this email told her to shove it.

  45. joyce says:

    Wow, I see there are other Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced “Bouguet”) fans out there. But Hyacinth wouldn’t trust anyone else to remember how to prepare anything or even to bring the exclusive Norwegian prawns (“mind the prawns!”) or anything else for that matter. She would however require them all to participate in a sing-along.

    I imagine that for years to come there will be hundreds, if not thousands, of Thanksgiving toasts to Amy Misto!

  46. Lana says:

    I never ask anyone to make anything for Thanksgiving! I dumb am I?

  47. joyce says:

    This would be the last Thanksgiving I’d go to at Marney’s house. In fact the previous year would be the last if I had enough time to say “Sorry, not coming”.

  48. Tony says:

    Is this J-Lo? Sounds very similar to the demands she makes when she goes on tour.

  49. Andrea says:

    I got goosebumps reading this because, sadly enough, this sounds just like my Aunt Kathy. She wouldn’t send a letter though, she would call you up on the phone so she can get a verbal “yes Ma’am”. No one says no to Kathy.

  50. david says:

    My first MIL was a Marney and after suffering two Thanksgiving dinners I’d had enough – others obviously felt the same but were afraid of making waves. I wasn’t. A few days after we all got our instructions, I sent out a personalized ‘correction’ letter to everyone. On Thanksgiving day everyone showed up with booze. My MIL was livid but after a few drinks she calmed down enough to agree to go to the restaurant where I’d made reservations for us. That was the last family Thanksgiving at MIL’s house.

    • laughing_hard says:

      Isn’t it called THANKSgiving?? I can see Marney standing at the door, while everyone is coming in. “Oh, you forgot the spoon and cheese! I will need you to go to the store to get those! Ah, can this family not do anything right?!?!” Yes, that is so much thanks. Just like a drill sergeant, you can’t give thanks for something that you ORDERED them to do. Ugh, somebody outta tell her the meaning of THANKSgiving! D:

    • Charlotte says:

      Kudos to you David!

    • h4ppy says:


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