Oprah Winfrey’s holiday weekend was filled with highs and lows, as her momVernita Lee died on Thursday, the same day the media mogul hosted a big Thanksgiving gathering at her Montecito, Calif. home.

For the fourth year in a row, chef Kenny Gilbert, owner of Gilbert’s Southern Kitchen & Bar, came to Winfrey’s house to help her prepare the turkeys. They had three smokers going outside and the former talk show host, 64, said in an Instagram video, “All I’m going to do at the end is, I’m going to add a little garnish.”

Winfrey asked followers to understand that she doesn’t cook the whole meal herself.

Lee (center) with Winfrey in October.Lee (center) with Winfrey in October.
OWN Communications

The A Wrinkle in Time star, sporting a “The Future is Female” t-shirt, also wished her fans, “Happy Thanksgiving!”

In another video, a boisterous Winfrey welcomed guests — she includes alums from her Leadership Academy in South Africa in the festivities every year — to her house with song.

“Every time a new girl arrives we sing them home,” she wrote on Instagram on Thursday. “Makes for an even happier Thanksgiving.”


A family spokesperson confirmed to PEOPLE on Monday that Lee died on Thanksgiving at her home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was laid to rest in a private funeral over the weekend.

Winfrey shared a tribute to her late mother when she posted a picture of her family — including her longtime partner Steadman Graham — on Monday.


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