give thanks

"The Holidays" are upon us! (I just love the navel-gazing presumption it takes to refer to two arbitrary holidays with a royal "The". But I digress.) Many of you will be spending today going to join your families for a meal where the food is garnished with the years of bitterness, tension, and resentment that only a family occasion can create. I’m an idiot myself, so I’ll be flying out of New York City at the end of a busy day from the airport famed for having THE SHORTEST RUNWAYS IN THE COUNTRY while enduring THE MOST RELENTLESSLY BRUTAL TRAVEL DAY OF THE YEAR so that I can hop in a plane and TAKE OFF DURING A SNOWSTORM. Happy Holidays!

Of course, I’m fully prepared. The convention is a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. In my family, we’re blessed to be free from generations of oddball traditions due to my parents having immigrated here only a few decades ago. Since we didn’t have any hand-me-down traditions for the day, we tended to make up our own. In recent years, I’ve taken to playing various classic and contemporary bossa nova songs, which my sister also seems to have taken a shine to. Nothing says "pass the gravy" like soothing jazz-inflected Portuguese lyrics!

But you are probably not so fortunate as I, and may not be able to foist such lunacy on your family and get them to go along every year. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! In the great tradition of me lazily faking my way through weblog entries by creating not-very-funny lists, I present to you a few suggestions of ways to liven up your Thanksgiving dinner.

  • Ask everyone what they’re gonna go out and buy on Black Friday during their shopping frenzy, and respond to each item with "It must be so nice to be completely unaware of how spending your way into consumer debt like that will only result in your permanent inability to accumulate wealth!"
  • Drag the gravy boat over by your plate, and throw a straw in. See how much you can guzzle down before they make you stop.
  • Tell the young children who are around that drugs are bad, and that some of the horrible drugs that people get addicted to are cocaine, marijuana, and heroin — but the worst of all is tryptophan! Then wait for their eyes to get really big when your uncle tries to sound smart while explaining why his lazy ass is taking a nap after dinner.
  • If they put on the Thanksgiving Day Parade, never fail to refer to the sponsoring department store as "John Wayne Macy’s".
  • Since most of the people around the table will either be your blood relatives or their significant others, any statement laden with blatant sexual innuendo is good for a long, awkward pause in conversation at the table. As Depeche Mode said, enjoy the silence!
  • Don’t be such an ingrate. Help out with preparation in the kitchen by saying, in a slow drawl, "I want to do the stuffing. I want to do the stuffing." Over and over.
  • Volunteer to say grace, and try to say thanks as Snoop Dogg might. Suggested vocabulary words: grizz-avy, tizz-urkey, cran-beezy sauce, gizz-izzards.
  • Fist the turkey.
  • While the guys watch football, effect a British accent and ruminate at length about how Commonwealthers are so much more refined for appreciating rugby and cricket. Pause once in a while to request Grey Poupon.
  • Your family doesn’t do turkey? Then you’ve got a good chance to gaze down wistfully at dinner and say, "Damn, mom… I wish I were as baked as that ham."
  • Don’t miss a good chance to make a wish. After you’re through with the wishbone, close your eyes and think about your deepest desires as you snap each bone in that bird’s body, one by one.
  • Tell that old softie President Bush that there’s no need to pardon the Thanksgiving turkey at the White House this year, as the turkey’s status as a retarded single mother with questionable legal representation doesn’t keep it from being tasty!
  • Honor the first Thanksgiving by travelling across an ocean, having a delicious dinner with the friendly people, and then killing them and using a mocking caricature of their culture as the mascot for a sports team. Also, wear a buckle on your hat.
  • After the kids get back from having your uncle arrested for tryptophan abuse, fill them in on the Legend of the Turducken. Extra credit if you can add an urban legend angle to the whole thing by describing a poultry ball that was found with a dismembered hook in the center of it. This one’s better than razor blades in Halloween apples.
  • Don’t forget to thank your whole family for leaving you the angry, neurotic wreck you are. And remember, only 30 shopping days left!