Ask the Manners Guy: Family Food Fight

With so much tradition tied up in recipes, even holiday desserts can ignite family conflict. Let the Manners Guy talk you out of a jam.

Miniature figures of a couple having an argument at a dinner table.
(Lewis Tse Pui Lung /

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We have a huge traditional holiday get-together, and my mother, who passed away this year, always made (everyone’s favorite) apple pie. My sister and I both want to make the pie this year as a tribute to the longtime matriarch of the family, but we can’t agree on who will do the honors. It’s getting bitter, verging on nasty. Help!

—Casey Chalmers, Toluca Lake, California

The stress of such a great loss can bring family conflicts to a head, especially around the holidays. But you don’t want to let sibling tensions spoil such an important family gathering. Do the right thing and relinquish the pie-making duties to your sister. Focus on another tradition you can start all your own. Can you knit stockings for new members of the family? Bake a different classic dessert? And how about preparing a loving toast as your own tribute to your mother? Remember, it’s not about the pies, but rather about the stability she gave to the clan. That’s a responsibility you can easily share with your sister if you lead the way.

The Manners Guy is a former bartender who knows his way around awkward social situations. Send your questions to [email protected].

This article is featured in the November/December 2019 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

Featured image: (Lewis Tse Pui Lung /

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