Each Thanksgiving brings out the pageantry in most of us and, whether we like it or not, we all have our roles to play. From the bird masters to the trash disposers, you know you’ve seen these people every fourth Thursday in November.
The Roll Baker
Whether they popped a can of pre-made dough or hand kneaded a doughy blend of flours, they’ll never tell, but these bakers lie at the core of Thanksgiving. Typically, roll bakers are down-to-earth and can be homemaker types or business-oriented folks who like to work with their hands a few times a year. Some even go so far as to carve little turkeys out of the butter, damned overachievers.
The Potato Salad Maker
Photo: Serious Eats
This may seem like a snub, but potato salads are some of the most hotly contested side dishes in existence. Only one or two extended family members know the exact ratio of mayo to secret ingredients like mustard, vinegar, habanero peppers or dental floss (hey, you never know). Everyone else has tried and failed to duplicate the recipe, cementing these scarce individuals in each family’s culinary hall of fame.
The Garbage Taker
Photo: Home Depot
They might be the klutz or the couch potato, but those with garbage duty are not enviable. You can avoid becoming this person by doing just enough to help, but not so much so that you get in the way. Otherwise, some substantial trash bags will be in close contact with your new sweater.
The Turkey Cooker
They bake the birds, deep-fry them, even spit roast and barbecue them. However they cook up a turkey, they do it well enough to have gained the trust of the entire family and they carry that pressure with them all the way to the table. But they can handle it; they pulled the innards out of a turkey for Pete’s sake.
The Turkey Slicer
Photo: Venus Muse
Traditionally, this was a patriarchal role passed down to the most dominant males in the family. In the past few decades, however, we stopped messing around with gender roles and anyone can step to the turkey with the knife (or chainsaw) of their choice.
The Tot Wrangler
Photo: She Knows
For some reason, this job always falls to the kid who’s almost 18 years old or the adult who most recently had a baby. The teens walk the line between apathy and affection for their younger siblings and cousins while the new parent is too preoccupied making airplane noises at the youngest of the bunch.
This wildcard can go to anyone. Generally, several glasses of wine make people nostalgic for the good old days, which could be the 1950s or the romantic vacation you took with your (now) ex last year. Watch the pinot; no one’s safe.
The Dessert Maestro
Photo: Houston Chronicle
They arrived with it wrapped in a fortress of containers and bags, and slipped it into the oven as soon as the turkey was done. Some may be a one-trick pony, and others can keep us guessing as to what adventurous dessert they’ve brought over this year. Everyone saves room for dessert and it’s the very last thing anyone remembers before they fall asleep on the couch.