Thanksgiving is the dream holiday, right? You sit around the table, gorge yourself on turkey, gossip about the family members you secretly hate haven’t seen in years, and… What am I forgetting? Oh! Being thankful for the endless ways your life doesn’t totally suck. It all sounds so perfect in theory, where could it possibly go wrong? Well, since human beings are involved, the answer to that is pretty simple.

Look kids, mommy had to cook this year… Remember that time NO ONE asked her to?
Image from Google

I can’t make it through one November without running into at least one Thanksgiving martyr. “What’s that?” you ask–allow me to me explain. A Thanksgiving martyr is a person responsible for cooking the meal who for some reason, wants everyone in the entire world to not only know that they’re preparing Thanksgiving dinner, but also feel sorry for them and rain pity all over their complain-y parade.

In November, this is a veritable cultural phenomenon. You’ll be perusing the bestsellers at the bookstore and see two women chit-chatting, one of them grimacing, yet stating with pride, “Yeah, I’m cooking this year…” You’ll be in the grocery store behind someone on their cell phone (driving their cart like a maniac) overhearing them explain, “I’m at the grocery store now. Mmhm. Well, I’m cooking this year so…”  One of my coworkers was lamenting how much preparation she still needs to do for this holiday, and she told me this the very FIRST week of November. “Why do you have so much to do?” I asked. “I’M COOKING!” …She all but spat those words at me. Oh, you’re cooking for Thanksgiving, a holiday that’s turned into one big orgy of gluttony? Good for you.

Before you try to assault me with your turkey baster for hating the cooks, hear me out. Thanksgiving is typically centered around a meal, right? We all know this. So, all these people complaining that they’re cooking for this eventful day, how were they chosen to be the designated chef this year? Did their family/friends hold a trial in which the accused potential chef called witnesses to testify to their mediocre cooking skills? Did they present botched recipe attempts as evidence? Did they try to plead insanity? Or was there a raffle they were the unlucky winner of? How exactly did all these reluctant cooks get incarcerated in the kitchen on this cornucopia’d holiday?! They volunteered.

That’s right folks, most of these complainers were not drafted to culinary duty on Thanksgiving–they willingly sacrificed themselves! They felt some weird sense of duty and decided to offer themselves up as sacrifice for this ironically thankless task. I’m even willing to bet some of them agreed to cook simply to have the opportunity to complain about it incessantly all month. Uh, if no one specifically asked you to cook, what exactly is the problem? You don’t get to volunteer and still be a pain in the ass about it. You can’t have your pumpkin pie and eat it, too.

Now I understand there are some situations where someone might inherit the responsibility of cooking through a death in the family or a house foreclosure or a divorce. Perhaps last minute the predetermined chef was rushed to the hospital (because someone attacked them while complaining about their cooking obligations), so now the success of Thanksgiving rests squarely on your shoulders. People in these situations are allowed to complain. The chore of cooking has been thrust upon them–their hand has been forced by unfortunate twists of Thanksgiving fate! There’s one more acceptable whining scenario I can think of: Maybe in your family you alternate who holds Thanksgiving every year or something. If it happens to be your turn this year, a moderate amount of complaining is permissible. Only a moderate amount, because you likely agreed to the Thanksgiving rotation, which means you were somewhat complicit in the cooking determination schedule. …Am I being that unreasonable here?

So you see, when you offer up yourself up to the wrath of the turkey, you can’t go out looking for anyone’s pity. You sealed your own fate. I know cooking is a lot of work (why do you think I hate it so much?), but if you weren’t willing to dedicate all of that time, effort, and grocery money, you shouldn’t have volunteered. For those that did though, what is so terrible about shutting up and making other arrangements for Thanksgiving. Put some of your guests to work! Delegate the menu! Or, here’s a crazy notion, does every single thing have to be homemade? If you’ve got guests coming over that will ridicule your choice to serve some pre-packaged stuffing or a pie from Baker’s Square, kick them out of your house. Your ignorant in-laws aren’t worth spending Thanksgiving night in jail for wounding them with a meat thermometer. If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, you’re in charge. Period. You’re even entitled to serve McDonald’s if you so choose.

I suggest that if you’re cooking this year, humbly learn your lesson, choose to make your Thanksgiving life easier, or most ideally, shut up about it, because the entire world is sick of hearing about what a martyr you are for taking on the responsibility of cooking. I really don’t give a gobbling gobble about your gobble gobbling cooking responsibilities, you gobbling gobbler. Gobble you, and gobble off. (Side note: I endorse substituting the word “gobble” for all profanity this time of year. It’s so silly and innocuous that people won’t even bother to decipher the veiled way that you’re insulting them.)

31 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Martyrdom

  1. Yeah instead of making themselves out to be a martyrs, they should play it as an action movie. Like Die Hard with turkey. “It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it….” Way less annoying.

  2. Ok. One – I tend to hate martyrs of all kinds. It’s probably my number one pet peeve. Do it and shut up or don’t do it. Done. So, I’m hearing you here.

    That said, you think maybe when people complain like that about Thanksgiving cooking, really what they’re doing is hinting that you could jump in here and say, “Hey, if you like, I can bring the pie.”

    As someone who loves cooking, I can tell you that Thanksgiving dinner is kind of a pain in the ass to cook, because almost all the traditional stuff that goes in it has to be done at the last minute. There is very little you can do in advance. For me anyway, it wouldn’t be that I’d have a problem doing it; I’d have a problem doing it alone. This one to me really just sounds like a back door way of asking for help from someone who doesn’t like asking for help.

    1. See that would make a certain amount of sense, but the people complaining to me (and the instances of complaining I’ve overheard) are people whose Thanksgiving I’m not invited to, so it’s just mindless complaining. I just don’t understand the sense in complaining when you know you’re essentially preparing an entire feast for all your friends and family. Hello? That’s a ton of work. Man up.

      1. Ok, I don’t know then. Maybe just misery loves company and the odds that someone will have this cooking in common with you are good, so they’re just looking for someone to whine with. Or maybe they just want someone to say how great they are for doing it. (That’s why martyrs do anything, isn’t it?)

  3. Awesome. I think it is high time that the meal preparers are called out for their martyrdom. Although I am a complainer about most everything, I tend to do it in a creative and non complainery way so as to make people think that I am complimenting them. Turkey off meal preparer complainers!

  4. I really don’t give a gobbling gobble about your gobble gobbling cooking responsibilities, you gobbling gobbler. Gobble you, and gobble off.

    Yes! You go, girl!

    I have a hard time drumming up enthusiasm for Thanksgiving.
    Most holidays seem designed to manipulate us.
    I’d rather get together with family and friends without “holiday expectations” being involved.
    Just hang out and play games with no set agenda.

    We might boycott Thanksgiving by eating pizza tomorrow.
    With a FROZEN chocolate mousse pie for dessert.

      1. You know, after I wrote that comment I thought that thought exactly! Makes sense I guess….although there’s nothing wrong with a good meal!

  5. McDonald’s would be a pretty ballin’ Thanksgiving meal. OH MY GOD what if they served turkey nuggets as a special Thanksgiving treat? I’m going to make this happen.

    Anywho, good post. Good talk.

  6. My mom got smart and delegated some this year, so I’m making a side and (gasp) a homemade pie – pear, walnut & raisin with cinnamon streusel topping. So now I get to martyr myself too, and complain about how I have to come home from work and make a whole PIE from SCRATCH. Ha! Feel free to gobble at me. 🙂

  7. An orgy of gluttony….LOL Isn’t that the truth? My mom in law volunteers and I try to help but she mostly refuses. She does enjoy it. Clean up is SO much fun, too. Then putting all the lovely carb loaded left overs in containers to take home and continue the gluttony parade for 2 more days. No thanks! Many years I freeze the food in case we are sick or it snows and we can’t get to the grocery. Happy Thanksgiving Katie!

    1. The pawning off of the leftovers is one of the worst parts, too. Like it’s not bad enough I had to be exposed to all this stuff at the table, now it has to taunt me from the refrigerator for a week!? Ugh. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

  8. I’ve only cooked it once before this year and I didnt complain only because I was high on pain killers…(dont ask me why they allowed me to cook an entire me right outand of surgery high on percacet). This year I was delegated the poaition which I gladly took so I could show off my sober (kind of) approach to cooking…we’ll see how that goes….but my sister conplains about having to order pizzait or make cupcakes out of a box or have when sheyou has people over for my nephew birthday parties

  9. wow that’s a lot of typos, sorry, I don’t have an I-Phone :/…. I’ve only cooked it once before this year and I didnt complain only because I was high on pain killers…(dont ask me why they allowed me to cook an entire meal right out of surgery high on percacet). This year I was delegated the position which I gladly took so I could show off my sober (kind of) approach to cooking…we’ll see how that goes….but my sister complains about having to order pizza or make cupcakes out of a box when she has people over for my nephews birthday parties. It’s high on my pet peeve list as well

    1. I knew what you were saying (…mostly). I just really don’t see any need to complain about cooking a big feast ONCE a year, especially if you offered. I mean really, what’s the big deal?

  10. Hate martyrs! (on the other hand, I love me some turkey). I have a friend who is always complaining that people ask her to do stuff, and basically I’m surprised they’re able to get their request in given her constant unasked for advice-giving and attempts at butting in and organising people’s lives. I’ve started to make fun of her for this because you can’t complain and then have this personality type where you need to feel needed and like to complain about the thankless tasks you willingly take over. Ok, rant over 🙂

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