Dear Crabby, What Dessert Should I Bring to Dinner?

Dear Crabby, I’ve been invited to Thanksgiving Dinner at the in-laws house and they’ve asked me to bring dessert, what should I bring?

Sincerely, New to the Family


Dear New to the Family,

Fun times. I can remember, back when I had to woo Mrs. Crabby’s parents. I always brought dessert – pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, cherry pie for Independence Day, apple pie for Christmas and ice cream for every meal – it was tiring. And, for several years I just got a simple half-smile and a “thanks.” What was I doing wrong?

I shopped at all the best bakeries and I drove out of my way to new places on the other side of town. I bought just enough, then I bought too much, but nothing worked. I was about to give up.

Dear Crabby sits infront of his laptop

Dear Crabby Gives Advice

Then, my own mother found out what I was doing when the in-laws invited the whole family over and I told her we had to bring dessert. So, she started baking. The trick she said was to add the special ingredient – “Love” – to each item. “Hogwash” I said. “No son, not hogwash, love,” she repeated. How do you add love to eggs and butter and sugar, I thought to myself. Mom got busy and for the first time in years I helped mom in the kitchen. She showed me all her little secrets and how to improvise the recipes. And as we baked, we talked. She told stories of cooking and baking in the kitchen with her mother and how many of the recipes were passed down from generation to generation. And how some were bowered from Julia Child or Graham Kerr. While others were off the back of the box or can of ingredients.

We baked and she told stories of the family. We laughed and we cried. I was in awe of my mother and time passed quickly. She asked about my hopes and dreams with my new wife, and I told her. While the man I was had become more private and closed off, she brought the little boy out in me and we had so much fun baking. I remember this experience every time I have to bake to this day.

The finishing touch mom said was the topping. “Don’t skimp on the topping!” Real whipped cream for the pumpkin pie. A crumb topping for apple pie. Hot fudge sauce for the ice cream. Little marshmallows for the hot cocoa. She had a finishing touch for everything.

Big smiles. The in-laws loved everything. “Dessert was wonderful,” they said, over and over again. Now, I thought it was just because mom had helped me make everything. But as time went on, I made all the desserts myself and the in-laws gave me the same big smiles and glowing report. Was it truly the “love” or the toppings?

Maybe a little of both, but I like to think it’s the “love.” It took me a while to figure out what adding love was. It’s the memories that surface when baking. It’s the moments we share and pass on to others. All done while making yummy treats. Somehow, that “love” becomes an important ingredient.

So, it doesn’t matter what dessert you bring, just bake your own desserts, use the best toppings, and don’t forget the love.

You may enjoy my past Thanksgiving Columns, What is on your Table for Thanksgiving Dinner? and Why is everything is Pumpkin Flavored? or What size turkey should I roast for Thanksgiving Dinner?

Happy Thanksgiving, Dear Crabby

About Dear Crabby

Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at

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