Queen For The Day

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I come from a loud, boisterous, very mixed family. You name it, we
got it! There are Jews and Catholics, Bernie-lovers and Rubio-crats,
high-school dropouts and college professors, Prius drivers and NASCAR
fans. About the only thing we do agree on is college football (though if
you value your eardrums and sanity, don’t talk about pro ball in any
season of the year!!!0 Here’s my question: It’s my turn this year to host
Thanksgiving, an honor that rotates about every six years.


Sometimes the hostess does it all (and by all I mean either catered
from an excellent local restaurant, down to the after-dinner mints),
sometimes it is done as a potluck (with vague instructions like “yams”
or “something green”), and sometimes the hostess allocates specific
recipes with instructions to each participating family member, taking
responsibility for bird, stuffing, and wine. I can’t afford the catering
route (which I frankly think is the opposite of the holiday spirit), and
to me the specificity of the various culinary choices matters far less
than the idea that we are come together as a family, even a family
that agrees on almost nothing for more than a minute or two at a


My radical idea that I need help selling: I have proposed that we
all volunteer at the local homeless shelter prior to a modest meal
(turkey and all the trimmings, of course, but without the Martha
Stewart fanfare). I am getting blowback from half the tribe, who are
accusing me of “tampering with tradition,” which really comes down to
delaying the meal from 2:00 to 5:00. That means they can’t pig out
while arguing politics and then pass out in front of the TV with plates
of half-eaten pie dripping from their hands. One brother even
suggested “putting it to a vote.” I’ve put up with everyone else’s
mishigas for the last six years. Shouldn’t they have to reciprocate,
even without holiday cheer?

Queen For The Day

Dear Queen For The Day:

Yes they should. But you being in the right doesn’t mean you’ll be able
to bring your boisterous crew down to the shelter and make them
serve the homeless with respect, let alone happy about doing it. But it
also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Announce the schedule of the day to everyone. Say dinner will be
served promptly at 5:00, and they have two choices if they want to be
part of the people sitting down with you to enjoy it. You prepare the
bird, stuffing, and drinks. They can choose between two options.
Option One: Join the service crew. Assemble at your house at x o’clock
and go together as a family work party. If they participate in that
effort or serving, they can be served upon their return by the folks
who opt out of helping others. Serving others gets them the right to sit
down without responsibilities for cooking and cleaning up. Option Two:
people who choose not to serve the homeless are responsible for
coming to your house and cooking the rest of the meal, setting the
table, and generally being the chief cooks and bottle washers. They
might get to watch football before or after dinner, but only when Crew
One has been appreciated for their work. It’ll be fun to see which
factions choose what, and who’s home to cook dinner.