Why I’m not cranky this Thanksgiving

betty ming liu Food, Inspiration, Relationships 16 Comments

Even though I can be grouchy around the holidays (’tis a hellish season to be single), you won’t hear any complaints from me right now. Instead, I am feeling reasonably sociable, for three reasons…

***First up, here is one of my favorite cartoons from The New Yorker. Last Thanksgiving, I posted this precious moment from the magazine on Facebook and couldn’t resist bringing it back for an encore on the blog. Since holidays can get very, very stressful, maintaining a sense of humor is a survival skill. So let’s begin this post by sharing a laugh:

*** This afternoon, my daughter and I are going to feast at the home of an old friend. The reason I will be able to throw myself into mingling is that I will not be distracted by anxiety over which water glass and bread plate are mine. There will be no awkwardness because I know the secret of “B-M-W:”

I learned this tip from my friend June Jee and it has saved me many times. If you want more super-helpful, super-easy-to-remember dining advice, please check out Betty Ming Liu’s table etiquette tips.  :)

***The last reason I’m feeling fairly mellow comes courtesy of yet another good friend. During a recent chat, she said something that cracked me up. Then, it made me think:

“Home is the place where, when you show up, they have to let you in.”

The original quote by the poet Robert Frost was: “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” But my friend’s line is better because it opens up broader definitions for “home” and “family.”

So on that note, I just want to say how glad I am to know that there are many places where I can show up and be taken in. I’m also very grateful to have you here right now. Thank you for letting me in for these blogging moments that always glow with your good energy.   :)

Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving! xo



Comments 16

  1. Post

    aw, nikki! thanks for dropping by. and i think you’re onto something. now that i think about it, the last two t-days were great. last year, we went to a nicki minaj concert. the year before, we fed the homeless. i think our tradition might be to keep trying new things. it would be nice to finally dump the annual crank routine. :)

  2. Post

    susan, isn’t that cartoon adorable? i love everything about the new yorker — the stories, the doodles, the sketches, the cartoons.

    and thanks, june!

    i’m here because i’m still at home making the side dishes for tonight’s dinner. maybe i’ll come back and give you the recap. if you would like to share your own recaps, please feel free! it’s always interesting to hear what other people are doing. xo

  3. absolutely loved the cartoon. its great you are so positive its a very good trait to have. Happyyyy Thankssgivinggg!!! hope you have a blessed one :]

  4. Aw, Betty, that made me smile. Thank you! :) I’m thankful for having met everyone in my life who has shaped me into who I am–you included, of course. I’m enjoying dinner with friends this year since I can’t make it home to WV, and it’s good to know I’ve got people who’ll take me in as well.

    Stay well, and Happy Thanksgiving! :)


  5. Betty-

    The more I read your column, the more I think there is more similarity between Chinese families and Italian families than I ever expected! Except that I am sure that we Italians are lot more loud when we get together.

    Maybe it’s also that we’re alike because we are also true New Yorkers.

  6. Post

    liana, so glad you love the cartoon too. the new yorker is filled with great material every week!

    and drew, thank you — big hug. we had a fun time meeting in that class ages ago, didn’t we? i totally relate to your friend-based thanksgiving. it’s one of my favorite forms of family.

    yankee49, i’m convinced that most cultures share many similarities. but i’m sure you’re right that italians are much louder than the chinese. i’ll bet italians are much more touchy-feely too.

    as for our thanksgiving, gabi and i are just back from a wonderful, wonderful evening with friends. our friends also invited other friends and we had a great mix of personalities and conversations. the setting was fabulous — a lower manhattan apartment with big windows looking out onto great views.

    we were originally going to eat at 5 but it got pushed back to after 7 because of cooking challenges. for starters, our host picked up a turkey at whole foods which was “oven ready.” she doesn’t cook much so she interpreted this to mean that the bird was already cooked! around 2 pm, she took the turkey out of the bag and was in for a shock.

    meanwhile, my daughter and i were home in the ‘burbs going crazy too. gabi accidentally doubled the amount of butter in her normally-fantastic pumpkin squares. they didn’t bake right so she had to re-do the entire recipe from scratch.

    as for me, my mac-n-cheese turned out fine. but i burned the string beans! luckily, i had bought extra so it was possible for me to re-do my recipe too.

    eventually, we got in the car and made it down to the city in one piece. the entire evening was spectacular. great food, great company, great conversation, great apartment. i’m going to bed now, with a smile on my face. xoxox

  7. I set the table with great grandmother’s best silver and china, the food was on time and was really good (if i do say so myself) but far more priceless than the china and far more satisfying than the food was sharing the love of the people who form our family of choice (including Billy whom you know, and his wonderful BF – my “son-in-law”) and the knowledge that these people are not joined by obligations of blood and birth but by ties of love. It was a wonderful day.

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    thank you, asianmommy! hope you had a good one too! i am having the most amazing thanksgiving weekend of my entire life…i just got home from thanksgiving dinner with another friend and her family. yes, i know it’s saturday! but for decades, her 80-something in-laws have been hosting a saturday thanksgiving dinner for all the grown kids and grandkids.

    the old couple is still very much in love. their grown children — now in their 50s and 60s — have benefitted from their example. two of the kids are on second marriages that have lasted 30 years! the rest of the kids are still on their first marriages. and the grandchildren, all young adults, were very cool too.

    i have never witnessed anything quite like it. plus, many of them live in the same beautiful suburban neighborhood. i’m not sure how race or culture plays into this but just in case you’re curious, this is a big waspy family with a few jewish members (and one greek) who married into it.

    anyways, seeing them all gave me hope. i enjoyed watching my friend interact with her husband; just looking at them, it was obvious that the spark was still there. as for the old couple, the patriarch still sends his wife the sweetest love notes. one of his little scribbles was in a batch of scrap paper in the kitchen; my friend and one of her sisters-in-law dug it out for me to see; it gave me hope that true love is possible. so wonderful to have good friends who want to share their lives with me. xo

  10. Betty- I’m so happy that your daughter and you had such a good Thanksgiving. In reading your blog, I cannot imagine that there is anyone out there who would turn you away from their door. Evidence of a life well-lived, I’m thinking. And for the record, you are always welcome to come to Delaware and have dinner with us, although you would have to tell me how you like foods prepared, because if there is salt and/or sugar in it, it’s probably on the table! I’m glad that being single this year didn’t cast any kind of pall on your holiday…I was hoping that you had moved on past that. You’re pretty resilient. So did you wait five hours for a turkey you don’t ready anyway, our is that your daughter’s choices I’m confiding with yours?(

  11. Post

    luann, thanks for the welcome! some people are social drinkers. i’m a social drinker AND a social eater. this means that i ate EVERYTHING this thanksgiving and have gained five extra pounds to prove it. so no worries about the salt and sugar on your table. :)

    and i am indeed coping with the single thing! while i don’t exactly look forward to going to the movies alone, it’s okay — as long as i keep believing in the potential for love in all its forms.

    i just told my daughter about last night’s thanksgiving adventure. she listened with interest to my description of the big, friendly sit-down dinner for 40 in a beautifully decorated, old barn filled with antiques. “so some big families really do love each other,” my daughter remarked.

    between our thanksgiving dinner and last night’s post-thanksgiving dinner, i’m truly in a new emotional place with this particular holiday. sweet.

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