Ask Amy: Readers give thanks for a big holiday crowd

November 24, 2011

Dear Readers: A few weeks ago, “ Agonized Aunt” wrote to me, expressing annoyance that her nieces wanted to invite boyfriends to the family’s Thanksgiving dinner.

My inbox was flooded with responses from readers who took issue with this aunt’s assertion that Thanksgiving is only for family.

Let’s celebrate this day of gratitude together by sharing some stories (with apologies for tardiness to my Canadian readers, who celebrate Thanksgiving in October).

DEAR AMY: I grew up a Navy brat, and my father often brought over recruits who were far from home for a home-cooked meal.

I have always welcomed adult “orphans” to share the meal and family time. We have 30-plus for Thanksgiving and welcome all additional boyfriends, girlfriends — even other in-laws.

It is a time of fun and total chaos. If you are in the area, you are invited too! -- Happy Thanksgiving

DEAR AMY: This particular aunt may discover that instead of having grumpy nieces at the table, she may wind up with no nieces at all. The boyfriends’ families may invite them to share their holiday and welcome them instead. I hope they do. -- Baltimore Sun reader

DEAR AMY: Thankfully, we always seem to have room to squeeze in just one more at our Thanksgiving table.

There’s a bonus, too. Sometimes family conversation is the same -- year after year. A guest changes the conversation and you find out things about family members that you have never heard before. -- Auntie With Another View

DEAR AMY: I was one of those boyfriends years ago who was welcomed to the table.

I often sat next to the daughter’s random friend or co-worker who didn’t have anywhere else to be that night. Sharing one’s table with others, not just with family, is what Thanksgiving is all about.

My advice to the boyfriends is to help with the dishes! -- Husband at the Table

DEAR AMY: Speaking of boyfriends, I introduced one to my parents at Thanksgiving in my tiny apartment, where I purchased the ingredients and he agreed to help prepare them, because I’m not a great cook.

My mother, a fellow noncook, took me aside sometime during the festivities and said, “You really need to keep him -- he makes gravy!”

We just celebrated our 17th anniversary. -- Giving Thanks

DEAR AMY: I fondly remember going to a Thanksgiving dinner hosted by my then-girlfriend while I was in college.

After 40-plus years, I still remember that day and the kindness of that “mom” treating me as an honored guest. -- Grateful

DEAR AMY: In our family, Thanksgiving was always open to whatever friends we wanted to invite -- most often those who had nowhere else to go.

It was always fun to see who would be in the cast of characters each year, taste whatever yummy goodies they brought and know that we brightened their day. -- Juanita

DEAR AMY: Our son is going to college in another state. He can’t travel home for the holiday and has been included in his girlfriend’s family’s celebration for the last two years.

They’ve embraced him with open arms. I think this contact also has helped the girlfriend’s family try to gauge if he is a keeper! -- Grateful Mom

DEAR AMY: Our Thanksgiving table has always been open to our daughter’s friends. We also extend invitations to single and divorced friends who don’t have family in the area. Agonized Aunt needs to read her history and realize what Thanksgiving is all about. -- Welcome in Wisconsin

DEAR AMY: More than 40 years ago when we were first married, my husband and I had planned a Thanksgiving with another couple.

On Thanksgiving morning, my husband went to the local convenience store to buy milk. He returned with the milk and four young GIs who were in the store purchasing hot dogs for their Thanksgiving meal.

They were such a grateful group of kids! They pitched right in and we had a wonderful day. This started a tradition of our home being open to anyone who needed a family on that special day. -- Still Giving Thanks

DEAR READERS: I’m giving thanks around a very crowded table too. Thank you for the inspiration!

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2011 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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