It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without turkey and drama, right? Not everyone will eat turkey (vegans, vegetarians, some of my Root colleagues who just don't like the bird), but everyone will come to dinner, and whether we're guests or hosts, we have responsibilities: If you're a guest: come on time, but don't come early and expect the host to entertain you. If you've been asked to contribute a dish, make sure it can be shared. Bring what the host asked you to bring ("you said broccoli, but broccoli didn't sound like Thanksgiving to me, so I brought spinach…) and bring it in quantity. Do bring a small gift for your host—chocolates, wine, fancy cookies. They may or may not be shared with everyone else. (It's a host gift, remember…) Do ask if you can help, and if you're told "no thanks," remove yourself from the kitchen. Do offer to help with clean up, and ask what would be most useful. If you're a host: Do let your guests know when you want to have everyone sit down and eat. And do start if most of them are there, so the meal isn't held up for one person. Do thank guests who bring unsolicited dishes ("I just wanted you to have some of my Nana's sauerkraut relish…"), but don't feel obligated to put it out if it doesn't go with your meal. Do let people help if you need help. Just be specific about what you need. ("I don't need anything now, but I would love to have some help clearing the table so we can get to all that pie as soon as possible!") Do try to include a few "orphans"—people who are far from friends and family and home, and who would enjoy having dinner with a famiily. Even if it's not their own. And do have a very Happy Thanksgiving.
is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News and co-author, with Karen Elyse Hudson, of The New Basic Black: Home Training For Modern Times (Doubleday).