A Smithsonian Magazine picture of the first Thanksgiving.
Dear Miss Advice:
Thanksgiving this year was the first day of Hanukkah. We had to light the candles and play dreidl before we could eat dinner. Betty’s kid cheated and won all the rounds in dreidl, so the other kids were in tears. Me too.
Then it was time for dinner. Twenty-five relatives came, and every single one was on a different diet. Uncle Ira Tating was gluten-free, so we had to make no-bread stuffing just for him. His brother Agi Tating brought brownies made with his medical marijuana, and he expected us all to have them before dinner. It wasn’t OK, because his dealer gets really bad stuff.
Ally said Thursday was her day for kale-rutabaga-mango juice and that was all she was going to eat. Well, drink. Then she sat around looking mournful and saying, “Oh my god, how can you eat those things? Don’t you know how bad they are for you?”
My wife’s brother Ander Thal went paleo with all meat and fat and no grains. He wanted the turkey rare, no carbs. His wife Tiffany was paleo vegan. Do you have any idea how hard it is to feed a paleo vegan? Or what rare turkey tastes like?
Tom was only eating raw vegetables and wanted uncooked sweet potatoes, with just a touch of grated ginger. It would be easier to feed people slices of the moon.
Joyce discovered a cabbage cores diet from the 1950s, so she brought a dish of them to serve with the turkey. Lucky for her, she got to eat the whole thing. Harry and Betty were re-enacting Plimouth Rock, and showed up in costume with facts about everything – “the Pilgrims didn’t have those, the Indians fixed it this way . . .” Every time someone questioned them on it, they whipped out their iPhones and started looking up answers. Darned if they weren’t always right.
It was bad from the start. Sven had gotten into molecular cooking and showed up with cranberries frozen in liquid nitrogen. They burst open and blew red powder all over everything, so when the cops showed up wondering what the fire in the back yard was all about, everyone was covered in red and they thought it was blood. But the fire was just the turkey exploding when the deep fat fryer went up in flames. Uncle Agi offered the police some brownies, but fortunately they got distracted when Cousin Josh showed up yelling about his crispy cockroaches in sriracha sauce.
My wife said that the exploding turkey counted for the Hanukkah menorah for the rest of the week because Hanukkah is all about oil. Did we have to pray over it to make that work? Is God going to get me for making jokes about holy oil?
She forgot and cooked all of the sweet potatoes, so Tom didn’t have any, and had to sweet-talk Ally out of some of her kale juice. I hate sweet potatoes, but I had to eat them for the next week.
Cousin Sam came too. All he did was tell me how to put stamps into my stamp albums, for the first hour, and after that he snored through the whole football game. Grandpa’s team lost the game, and he blamed it on the aliens who invaded last week and were living in the garage.
Forget the turkey, I’m hoping the kitchen will explode next year
Have you considered calling in sick for Thanksgiving? How hard can it be to arrange for the aliens to abduct someone – the relatives, if possible, or just you if that’s the only choice?
Your strategy for next year is to play the relatives off against each other. Put Cousin Sam in the kitchen with your wife and those sweet potatoes. He’ll distract her, the sweet potatoes will burn, and voila – none to eat.
Put Sven to work on the cabbage cores with his liquid nitrogen. It will improve them immensely. Whatever you do, keep him away from the deep-fat fryer.
Make sure that Cousin Josh brings those cockroaches again, or maybe mealworms in curry sauce. The rare turkey will taste a lot better by comparison.
Cat watching cockroach.
It won’t be Hanukkah, but start a new tradition and play dreidl anyway. Lace the chocolate gold coins with Xanax, and play several rounds before dinner. Make sure that everyone wins some and eats them. You might have to send Betty's kid to the back yard to watch the turkey.
Find your Uncle Agi a new dealer, and save a few of those brownies for grandpa in case his team loses again.
The exploding turkey does not substitute for lighting the menorah, despite the quantities of oil involved, and there are no prayers that you can say over it that will fix that. And don’t forget that the first day of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving don’t coincide for another 77,000 years. You shouldn't have to worry about this again, but if you’re still around then I don’t want to meet you in the dark.