5 Awful Things That Happen at Thanksgiving Every Year

Thanksgiving should be the ideal holiday. For starters, there aren’t any gift expectations, which means you won’t embarrass yourself with a botched wrapping job. You don’t even have to buy anyone a card that conveys your sentiments in a thoughtful-yet-not-too-creepy poem. All the food that can fit on your plate is yours! Naps are encouraged for exaggerated scientific reasons! Does it get any better? T-Day seems like a surefire success, yet every year one of the five occurrences below makes you wonder how thankful you should be for this feast of fools.

1. You will not get seconds of something you really wanted.

Call it an extension of YOLO, but when I’m at the Thanksgiving table, I behave as though this feast on the last Thursday in November is the only time in my life that I can ever eat stuffing. Theoretically, I could prepare stuffing at any point during the other 364 days of the year, but I abstain from eating it so that on Thanksgiving Day there’s at least one thing I can say I’m truly thankful for. But I’m not the only one. People are crafty, especially parents. You’re trying to clear your plate so you can go back for more stuffing, and you’ve got about two more spoonfuls of corn when some relative snatches the stuffing bowl to serve her child. “Gregory, do you want more stuffing? You have to eat!” Doling out five whopping spoonfuls of stuffing onto his plate, Gregory will nibble on the piece of turkey that’s surely gotten cold by now before begging to be excused to be a little twerp elsewhere. “All right,” his mother will allow, switching her empty plate with his. “Gregory! You didn’t eat your stuffing! Well, I guess I’ll just have to finish it…” With a sinister smile, your relative taunts you from across the table, and it’s at that moment that you realize this was all an elaborate plan to get more stuffing.

2. A relative’s weird diet will result in you trying something gross.

I try to be open-minded about other people’s weird eating habits, but there’s always one weird relative who insists on using Thanksgiving to impose their dietary restrictions onto everyone else. Little Cousin Hannah will pass along a big bowl of goo that looks like something that made a contestant vomit on Fear Factor. No way I’m eating this, you think to yourself, but you don’t want to appear close-minded. “What’s this?” you ask the table.

“I made it. You’re in for a treat!” It’s Cousin Regina, known for her abhorrence of red dye 40 and foods with actual taste.

“I found this great recipe for pickled eggplant with melted turnip spleens. It’s gluten free!”

“Oh! That sounds… I didn’t know turnips even had spleens.”

“OF COURSE! And they have 26 grams of protein.”

You nod as politely as you can while sending that bowl of garbage right along. “Aren’t you going to try it?” It’s now that you realize you’ve walked right into a trap that will bring up your childhood eating habits. “Maybe after I clear my plate…” Cousin Regina knows she has the power, and she’s going to make you feel like the immature, unenlightened jerk at the table that you never wanted to become. “I remember when you were younger and you just hated mashed potatoes, and now look!” Everyone at the table glares at the mashed potatoes taking up 1/4th of your plate, and since you’ve been outed as a picky eater, there’s now a tiny spoonful of turnip spleens adjacent to your green bean casserole.

3. You’ll be reminded of your family’s unfortunate prejudice.

“Light or dark meat?” Whenever I’m asked this question, I always answer “dark.” You can get white meat just about anywhere, but it’s the succulent dark meat that really makes Thanksgiving a special occasion. So you ask for some dark meat, and invariably if there are any immature men at the table, you’ll hear, “Yeah, I bet you do like the dark meat!” Uncle Joe will stroke his mustache in disapproval while Aunt Gertrude cuts a piece of meat from the leg. “Hush now, Kevin. I don’t like that talk. Here you go, sweetie. Did you know your great, great grandpa Horace used to like the dark meat, too?” As if it’s some weird food fetish. Nodding solemnly, you’re making an effort to pretend this useless bit of information has had a profound impact on your identity. “It’s too bad he robbed a bank, killed four nuns who were rescuing kittens trapped in a van, and spent the rest of his days in the funny farm. Anyway, you two have something in common!”

4. You won’t get enough pumpkin pie.

Even though passing plates or having a buffet are the two most efficient serving methods, for some reason these haven’t caught on for the dessert portion of Thanksgiving. Whoever baked (or bought) the pumpkin pie has an unsettling dictatorial sense of ownership over this dessert, which means they’re the ones holding the knife. “Who wants pie?” they’ll ask, holding up the butcher knife. “I’ll have a piece,” you announce, unafraid to be the first to admit you’ve fully committed to eating 4,000 calories this day. Without even asking how big of a slice you want, you’re handed a plate with a narrow piece of pie that’s too small to even justify whipped cream. This is perhaps the most helpless Thanksgiving situation: the pie keeper has become Mr. Bumble and you’re Oliver Twist. Please, sir, can I have some more?

5. Someone will give too many warnings about a dish they made.

Some Thanksgiving attendees feel a lot of pressure to contribute a dish to the potluck because the host(s) of Thanksgiving always makes everyone feel guilty for the great sacrifice they’re making in cooking a turkey and using real dishes and silverware at the table in stead of having guests eat from paper plates using their fingers. The meal will have just begun when this reluctant baker will make an announcement. “Attention, everyone! So about the rolls… This is my first time making them, and I’m not sure if I let them rise long enough…” Uncle Frank will chime in, “They look great! Let’s eat!” The reluctant baker will continue, “Well, I realized after they were done that I think I accidentally doubled the flour, so they may be a little dry…” In a vote of confidence, you’ll take a roll from the basket and reassure your relative. “I’m sure they’re fine! Dig in everyone!” “Well, thanks… But when I was mixing it up I noticed there was a dog hair in the dough, but then I couldn’t find it, and I didn’t have enough eggs to start over… Also, when they came out of the oven, I noticed one of my earrings was missing, so…”

Happy Thanksgiving!

For guidance on dealing with five of the most intimidating family members at Thanksgiving, check my article on Huffington Post: Five Intimidating Family Members at Thanksgiving Dinner (And How to Handle Them)

9 thoughts on “5 Awful Things That Happen at Thanksgiving Every Year

  1. I’m going to our command potluck. On the up side, it’s buffet style so I can skip whatever I want to but on the down side we are eating stuff made by people we don’t know very well or know how their house is kept. It’s a crap shoot. In the end, it will not be a stuffing my belly kind of Thanksgiving, which is probably a good thing.

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever had turnips, how do you tell the assholes?
    I think I’m just going to skip all this ho-ha and sleep all day. Maybe get up late and call Dominos. Do they have turkey pizza? 🙂

  3. So funny! I’m one of the lucky ones, the 1% that has an incredibly nice family and there’s always plenty of stuffing (I hate pumpkin pie, but there’s always apple!).

  4. Not only does said dictatorial owner establish possession over the pie upon serving hour, but they make sure it’s known from the get-go. Upon arrival, there’s nothing like a left-handed hug from granny who simultaneously sports a knife in the right. Great read, thanks for sharing! Looking forward to your next post.

    All the best,

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