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A Humorous Look at the Thanksgiving Day Potluck (With a Quiz)

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

. . . not quite my kitchen.

. . . not quite my kitchen.

Allow Me to Introduce Myself

To my family, friends, and acquaintances, I am Linda.

To most of you, I am the Carb Diva.

"Why that name?" you might ask. Well, truth be told, there is not a carbohydrate in existence that I do not admire and cherish.

People have asked if this article focuses on low-carb recipes. Heavens no! Not only do we LOVE carbs, we embrace them. We greet them with open arms. We run in slow motion across a field of daisies toward them!

Potatoes, pasta, rice, baked goods, desserts—I love them all, and I prepare them with care and passion.

I Run a Tight Ship

My husband might be king of the castle (or co-sovereign), but without a doubt, I reign supreme in my kitchen. And I rule with a strict set of standards.

All knives must be precisely sharpened, and work surfaces must be kept clear of any clutter. Cutting boards are meticulously clean—so clean you could eat off of them (and, actually, since they are used to prepare food, in a way, you are doing just that). Cooking utensils, pots, and pans are not stacked up to be dealt with when the meal is over. Instead, they are washed as they are used.

There is a place for everything and everything in its place.

Discipline, sanitation, organization.

That's how it works in my kitchen—at least, that's how it works 364 days of the year.

Not my kitchen. (Well, most of the time.)

Not my kitchen. (Well, most of the time.)

But on one day, all of that order devolves into what can only be described as "organized chaos." One day a year, I host a Thanksgiving Day potluck.

It's Fun!

I have a large and loving family. My brother and sister are both married, and they have children with spouses, and their children have also married or have a significant other. I don't know how many people showed up last year—I stopped counting after 30.

We had three tables, and all were crowded. We borrowed chairs from the neighbors and ran out of places to sit. (My husband, my sister, and I sat on the stairs leading up to the second floor.)

It Works for Us

Despite the pandemonium, we all get along fabulously. Somehow, the turkey is always moist and tender, nothing catches on fire, the cat stays out of the gravy . . . and (miraculously) the meal always comes together.

Team Building!

Team Building!

But . . .

However, it has occurred to me that this is not unlike the "expertness" exercises I endured in the 1990s. One fateful day a new, "fresh-out-of-management school" Division Chief entered our office, and the calm and quiet we had known were no more.

Now there were planning sessions and committees to plan the planning sessions. There were 5-, 10-, and 20-year plans. There were paradigm shifts. And (oh joy, or bliss!) there were team-building exercises.

What Is Team Building?

If any of you have worked in a corporate setting, you know exactly what I am referring to. Who can forget their first Great Egg Drop contest, One-Question Ice Breaker, or (my personal favorite) Coin Logo?

(Seriously? I thought we had all matured beyond the middle school Truth or Dare).

Your team members are a lot like crayons. Everyone brings something smart, unique, special, and quirky to your business. The trick is . . . getting them all to understand and appreciate that their differences are what cause their success.


According to Wikipedia . . .

The formal definition of team-building includes the following pillars:

  • Goal setting: Aligning around goals
  • Role clarification: Reducing team members’ role ambiguity
  • Problem-solving: Finding solutions to team problems

So, how do we apply those principles to the Thanksgiving dinner? It's really quite simple.

  • Goal setting: We all want to eat.
  • Role clarification: Find the person who knows how to carve a turkey.
  • Problem-solving: Can we get rid of the lumps in the gravy, or just disguise them by stirring in diced mushrooms?

So, I've created a test for you so that you can learn what your team's "style" is in the Thanksgiving kitchen.

Are you ready?


1. When Following a Recipe, You . . .

  • (a) measure the ingredients exactly,
  • (b) use rough estimates,
  • (c) tell someone else to do the measuring, or
  • (d) make sure that the best person for the job does the measuring.

2. It's Time to Make the Gravy. You . . .

  • (a) analyze the flavors to be certain they are perfectly balanced,
  • (b) find out what each person thinks of the gravy,
  • (c) taste it, but don't offer a taste to anyone else (who cares what they think?), or
  • (d) make sure that the gravy passes muster with everyone.

3. It's Time to Flip the Turkey. What Do You Do?

  • (a) you turn it over carefully with tongs and meat forks
  • (b) you cheer on others as they take on the challenge
  • (c) you fearlessly throw the turkey up in the air and catch it in the pan, or you
  • (d) assign the chore to the most adept turkey flipper on the team.

If You Answered the Questions With . . .

  • two or more a's—You're Compliant. You're very detail-oriented and almost never deviate from the process when completing a task. (Cooking without a recipe is really not that scary. Try it).
  • two or more b's—You're an Influencer. You want everyone to be involved and get needed praise and recognition. (This is especially valuable when it comes time to do the dishes).
  • two or more c's—You're Dominant. You're a take-charge type who tends to tell rather than ask people to do things. (Ever consider becoming a chef?).
  • two or more d's—You're Steady. You are a good problem-solver who can cut through the issues to resolve crises and personality clashes. (Dinner for 12, peace in the Middle East—it's all a piece of cake for you).

. . . and how many of you are still pondering the concept of flipping a turkey?

© 2015 Linda Lum


Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 19, 2015:

Lawrence - So glad that you got into the spirit of the hub. Thank you for stopping by.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on December 19, 2015:


I found this exercise fun in that I had both a natural way I'd do things (somewhere between 'influencer' and 'steady') and my 'learned' way of following the recipe.

When doing things 'my way' its the 'influencer' but when working with my wife it's the recipe!!

Merry Christmas


Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 24, 2015:

Flourish - I think our cats are very much alike. Mine too is a supervisor. He sits on top of the kitchen queen and observes my every move (maybe it's just because I'm so fascinating).

FlourishAnyway from USA on November 24, 2015:

Very cute! I cannot image a crowd that large at my house. And I'd have to let my favorite cat on the counter to help cook. He stays out of the way but likes to advise me.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 24, 2015:

Vocalcoach - I am glad you enjoyed this. It was fun to write. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on November 24, 2015:

I certainly enjoyed this hub, Linda. Thanks for the tips. I love everything about Thanksgiving. Luckily for everyone, I no longer do the cooking, :)

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 23, 2015:

Rachel - I think if you are a turkey-flipper, you are not a turkey-stuffer. We don't because I have a daughter who loves stuffing, but is vegetarian. So the stuffing is prepped in a casserole dish with veggie broth in lieu of chicken or turkey stock. I wish you a blessed Thanksgiving as well.

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on November 23, 2015:

Hi Linda/Carb Diva. Your Thanksgiving sounds like my Christmas Eve. That's exactly what happens every year for the past 30 years at least. We love it. One thing I never did, though was flip my turkey. First, I never even though of it and if I did, I'm afraid it would fall apart and all the stuffing come out. It never hurt that I don't, but if you do, I'm sure the under part of it gets nice and crispy also. Thanks for sharing all the tips in the kitchen. Most I already follow.

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 23, 2015:

Jodah - You are funny. If you did not live so very far away I would ask you to come over and assist with the gravy.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 23, 2015:

Good morning Bill. Somehow I knew I would hear from you first. I am glad you enjoyed this--it was fun to write. Why doesn't HP have a "humor" category? Happy Thanksgiving to you and Bev as well.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 23, 2015:

What a fun hub, Linda! For the most part I stay as far away from the kitchen as possible, unless Bev has a desire for mac n cheese. :) Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on November 23, 2015:

Very interesting hub Carb Diva. I am sure your kitchen is expertly run :) I came out of your poll "Steady". I almost always get the job making gravy, so I must do something right there :)