Who's Coming to Dinner?
As bestselling author Daniel Pink wrote, exercising your creativity leads to personal and professional success.
With that in mind, and holiday dinners fast approaching, this month's reader challenge asks you to imagine a fictional holiday gathering and describe—in no more than 50 words—a character, conversation or event at your holiday meal.
To sweeten the pot, we'll select three winners, each of whom will receive a copy of Mollie Katzen's new book, Get Cooking. Make sure to post your story by 11:59pm EST on Sunday, November 29 to be included in the judging.
In the past, she ignored the snide remarks about, for example, a vegetarian’s sickly pallor. Lately, her father-in-law’s colon cancer diagnosis bolstered her confidence, armed her with intolerance for a lecture on diet choice from a woman who fed her family sickness.
“Do you like the vegetarian stuffing?” asked her boyfriend’s mother.
“Stuffing is already vegetarian.”
Nov 17, 2009 9:50 am
"Martha, your potatoes souffle is simply divine," Leticia murmured through a mouthful of marshmallowed sweet potatoes.
"Divine?" Martha burst into tears.
Raising a languid eyebrow, Letitia stared, puzzled, at Martha.
Martha, breathing deeply, replied, "I know about you and my husband."
Harold crushed the Parker House roll, that he had just fetched from the basket, in his clenched fist and began to sweat.
Nov 17, 2009 11:09 am
Smothered in deep red cranberry sauce, the venison didn't even try to look like a turkey, but took on the appearance of lopsided hockey pucks hiding in a sea of fake leftover Halloween blood. Mom adopted that let's be adventurous, this is just what we wanted, Thanksgiving dinner attitude.
Nov 17, 2009 11:26 am
Grandma stared at the man next to her.
"I'm Garrett," he offered.
"I had a friend named Nancy," Grandma announced.
"I'll go," Garrett whispered.
"They're happy to meet you," Sam said.
"Overjoyed," Dad murmured.
"You look nothing like Nancy," Grandma told Garrett.
Nov 17, 2009 2:18 pm
Dana surveyed the tiny kitchen table and all the fanfare she'd been able to muster on this too-hot Thanksgiving morning: pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, canned carrots and garlic bread. Her mother, had she lived another month, would have been appalled, would have shamed her, "I know I raised you better than that!"
"Oh, Mama," she sobbed, "I can't celebrate with you gone!"
"I've got a surprise!" called her husband, Ron, from the next room. He eased through the kitchen door with her mom's small candelabra illuminating his face. As he took his place across from her, he reached for her hand and said the blessing.
Nov 17, 2009 3:24 pm
“Hot biscuits,” Granny said, placing breadbaskets on the tables. “Hot biscuits.”
“Made biscuits every day since I was 12.” She announced to her children, their spouses and children and grandchildren as she sat down.” Fifty-four years of making biscuits. I’ve made enough; next Thanksgiving, someone bring some dinner rolls.”
Nov 17, 2009 3:29 pm
Maggie had been preparing Thanksgiving for months now. Her mother had always made it spectacular. She brought out all her mother's recipes.
Everyone was waiting. Her mother walked into disarray, food everywhere and a half-burnt turkey. "I'm sorry mom," she sobbed.
Her mother sent her to the table. A moment later she appeared, tray full of sandwiches, and the family cheered as if it was a huge turkey. Her mother smiled at her, "It's the people, not the food, that make Thanksgiving."
Nov 17, 2009 4:07 pm
Ruben: Uh sis, FYI, ‘vegetarian’ isn’t a synonym for Tofurkey.
Tami: Yeah, but ‘little brother’ always seems to mean ‘ungrateful pain in the arse.’
Ruben: Arse? So you’re British now?
Tami: Nope. And the Tofurkey is the only way I can flip you the bird with kids at the table.
Nov 17, 2009 5:16 pm
Every year I put two extra place settings at the table for my Mother and Brother. It's my way of saying that they may be gone but are certainly not forgotten. Last year was no different. Midway through the meal my five year old Granddaughter says, "Bubbe, you need to give the lady some more turkey". No sooner had she spoken those words when her twin brother says, "And that boy needs more milk". I was too blind to see but the eyes of five year olds are much more keen!
Nov 17, 2009 5:26 pm
And I looked at them talking together side-by-side on the couch. He laughed warmly and never took his eyes off her. She giggled and glanced up at him. From behind the invisible wall between them and the whole world I peered through the window and I knew. He was hers.
Nov 17, 2009 6:50 pm
Standing at the door the uninvited looked back with a dark smile and wiped her mouth. The turkey, still stuffed, fills the table untouched. Cranberry red streaks the walls and upturned chairs clutter the floor. The meal taken resting in her belly she thanks the motionless, pale guests and leaves.
Nov 17, 2009 8:39 pm
Lance Armstrong conquered French roads. At his Thanksgiving charity I had turkey, potatoes, wine and the right raffle ticket so he took me on a ride. Straddling his extra carbon rail allowed me to pretend - my legs became his and I churned for the yellow podium burping, licking, smirking.
Nov 17, 2009 9:18 pm
We were a blended family that wasn’t blending. Four his, two mine and no one connecting, until...
Why not, I thought? We would celebrate ancient Michaelmas with sculpted dragons at each place setting, tales of St. George and abundant food. And suddenly there was laughter and blending and a family.
Nov 17, 2009 11:24 pm
It’s Passover. We eat the traditional meal. My mother who has been dead for three years sits at the head of the table enjoying the food, celebrating her grandchildren. The pot roast never fails to give me heartburn. It’s her recipe. I do not complain. She smiles. We eat.
Nov 18, 2009 12:37 am
Delia wept sullenly over Sammy. Glazed, fruited and pricked with cloves, he smelled delicious.
Mother scolded, "Dear your tears will spoil him for the rest of us, do use a napkin".
"But you swore Momma", Delia shrieked lividly.
Punching the turkey she screamed, "You promised he'd be the main course"!
Nov 18, 2009 1:23 am
I woke up from my afternoon nap to a delicious smell of ham. This must be that Christmas thing again. I need to hurry and save daddy as agreed...
- Honey, I’m sorry I would love to help more but I think Henry needs to go outside. Love you!
Nov 18, 2009 10:07 am
“Grandma’s here” Charlie announced
“Finally, we can eat.” Bobby said
“Blessing first.” Amy said
When Amy’s twin Matthew stood “I have an announcement. I’m gay”
Mother and grandma gasped, dad hit the table, Bobby glared, and Charlie didn’t know what was going on. Amy smile overjoyed Matthew told the family.
Nov 18, 2009 1:16 pm
“ ‘Ey Al,” the bedraggled man mumbled through stuffing-filled cheeks. “ ‘member real meals?”
Al, Even more unkempt than his friend, gnawed off every last miniscule scrap from a turkey leg answering “Nope. Been livin’ off scraps all m’ life.” Ashamed, his friend spun a tale of the perfect Thanksgiving feast!
Nov 18, 2009 1:24 pm
What to do about David? He showed up on Thanksgiving, sitting quietly on the sofa with his girlfriend. He was hooked again, although as usual, nobody discussed the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room.
Mom sat in the corner, always forgiving, always slipping the "boys" some money, always buying their stories about what the money was needed for, even though everyone knew the money would just be shot into their arm.
And I cooked my fabulous dinner. And pointedly ignored David and Terry. Not welcoming them into my home. They finally made their excuses and left us to our dinner with the gorilla.
Now that David is dead, I live with the fact that I turned my face away from my brother when all he wanted was to spend the holiday with the family.
Nov 18, 2009 2:33 pm
Each Thanksgiving, it was the same ritual. How Willy loved the company that her soft zaftig presence afforded. His morbidly obese frame moved with gluttonous agility as he headed towards the kitchen. Opening the amply stocked refrigerator, fork in hand, he plunged it into the leftover turkey-her body his sanctuary.
Nov 19, 2009 8:06 pm
No more questions about my job, cat, or horrid roommate. I will jump from my corner chair, thrust myself over yet another dry turkey, grab my mousy hair and scream my head off. But Charlie is smiling more, and Cara actually helped cook. The corner chair’s not so bad really.
Nov 22, 2009 12:02 am
Pie judge-the true king of the universe. Pies are the grace note at the end of the meal. The charmed memory of meals past. Creative cooks can surprise, entice, and seduce with pie. Easy as pie, blessings to all. Happy Thanksgiving!
Nov 22, 2009 7:43 am
Holiday cheer. Won’t be any of that around here this year for us. Family fight five months ago and we’ve not seen our granddaughter since. She’s ten months old but her mother is twenty-six years old and acting like a fifteen year old. It’s killed the holiday spirit well in advance. We’ll avoid them like the plague and be wishing for the happier times of past holidays. Maybe our daughter will come to her senses, do what is right, apologize for the deceit. Oh yeah, and I still believe in Santa Claus. Can already tell it ain’t gonna’ happen this holiday season. Maybe by next year all will be settled and we can sit down to Thanksgiving turkey and my wife’s melt-in-your-mouth dressing. Now, that would be something to celebrate, everyone forgiving and forgiven, a real Thanksgiving.
Nov 23, 2009 12:05 am
The pie judge lingered between the carmel-apple walnut pie and the chocolate pecan. He paused and tried to focus on the peach, but no the carmel-apple pie captured him. Another day, another pie...such is the life of a pie judge, he was thankful everyday, not just Thanksgiving.
Nov 23, 2009 1:08 pm
Quacky walked across the road, MoMa Duck and babies following behind.
He stopped, looked both ways, and continued, heading home for Thanksgiving dinner.
Waddling across the street, a car came speeding down the road, not stopping in time.
MoMa taught the babies to be thankful for times past.
Nov 25, 2009 1:16 pm
As we sat down to Thanksgiving dinner, the whole family was preparing to say Grace. Susan quickly blurted out, "Derek and I are having a baby and I'm 3 months pregnant!" As mom passed the gravy, she turned and smiled at her husband and said, "We're going to be grandparents!" There was a moment of silence as Derek gulped down a sip of his egg nog and astonishedly said, "I'm going to be a father!"
Nov 25, 2009 1:57 pm
It wasn't a question. But I answered, “No thanks.”
“Go on! Special occasion! Usually only crisps for supper nowadays!”
The tired joke, told whenever I came home, distracted my defence.
The potato landed on my plate.
“More meat? Gravy?”
I surrendered. It was good.
Nov 25, 2009 3:53 pm
My plate is a graveyard of shrimp tales, skins and various food juices. Despite the fact I am already stuffed as full as the turkey I have devoured, I grab a chicken wing. I attack it like a wild animal, pulling off every last morsel.
Nov 25, 2009 4:30 pm
I've been here in the blind before sunrise, calling the old Tom. He’s coming, he thinks, to meet a mate but all the while he’s getting closer to my sights. He’s close now, another second or two, he’s here. My bead is on his breast. One shot, Thanksgiving turkey. Yum!
Nov 25, 2009 11:09 pm
Thanksgiving seemed to leap from the end of the summer and skip any signs of fall. Mom pulled lentils, beans, and any other ten-for-ten or dented cans of vegetables and made a miraculous stew. In charge of decorating, we scrounged to find acorns, fallen yellow and red maple leaves.
Nov 28, 2009 12:29 pm
I am so happy I ordered the audio version of this book. I travel quite a bit in my car and reading another book doesn't fit into my schedule, but listening to the audio version does. Daniel Pink does a great job of narrating his material, keeping the listener engaged and the best thing is, you can always go back and re-listen to something again. I recommend this book to all of the L-brained people who might want to to see what the other hemisphere is doing and how they can tap into it. In order for us as a nation to become leaders again, we do have to think and utilize a whole new mind.
Dec 5, 2009 5:51 am
We've announced the winners of this challenge! Congratulations to @mir777, @mountaingirl, and @agedcheddar! Check out our blog for the announcement.
Dec 17, 2009 10:58 am
by MaggieH (admin)