I remember the first time I hosted Thanksgiving dinner with my mom and aunt looking over my shoulder (they, along with their sisters, were my combined inspiration for Aunt Bossy!). Comments about excessive butter dripping down the bird and my father-in-law’s approach to making gravy were floating by. We were on vacation in a one-butt kitchen so I tried to make room for the opinions of others and soldiered on.

We got through the making of the dinner and sat down to a different kind of Thanksgiving celebrating – one that didn’t feel like a celebration at all. It was the first holiday without my father which is why we shook things up and changed the setting.

I marveled at how sweet our time together turned out to be with three generations of Bossies under one roof. I had two in the generation above me and two in training below me on our family tree. There I stood, out on a limb, trying to maintain my footing in what turned out to be an ever-shifting process of passing the torch.

As I consider preparations for this Thanksgiving dinner, I miss my mother and aunt who have been gone ten years. Though we’ve continued many family traditions, I smile at the thought of how much has changed since that anxiety-producing, butter-drenched bird. We now have dietary restrictions and philosophies to consider: Gluten-Free, Vegan Pledged, Dairy Reduced and a preference for grass-fed, free-roaming, Om-chanting turkeys. (In past years the tofu turkey didn’t measure up so the Vegans just load up on root vegetables.)

I’ve learned that the healthiest of families and the happiest of holidays are full and flexible. With so many blended families and geographic challenges, families search for ways to adapt. A friend began a Thanksgiving Friday tradition so that her family could fulfill other obligations and then settle in with her for the long weekend. When we make room for one more person, opinion, schedule or recipe, we invite participation on every level.

Do too many cooks spoil the gravy? Not a chance. Come one. Come all. Bring your best… because in this one, two or three-butt kitchen, everyone stirs the pot and answers the call.