By Fred Moreno
Every year I ask the same question: “Why, why, why JoAnn do we have your family come for Thanksgiving year after year, after year, after year?” Her response is always the same. “Because we have your family over for Christmas year after year, after year, after year.”
I’m sick of this Thanksgiving and Christmas ping-pong game. I had it up to my baked Adam’s apple with this nonsense. I wouldn’t mind if I get along with my wife’s family, but I don’t. And there’s so many of them not to get along with—32 of them to be exact, but who’s counting?
The obvious space problem is compounded because I refuse to have anyone eating in the dining room. I don’t want our carpet stampeded and stained. As a result, we dine in the family room using only my poker table. So we eat four at a time in eight different shifts. Hey, you want to have the holiday at my house, you eat by my rules.
My dining rules are strange, but so are the people around the table. Take my brother-in-law, Dennis. He’s probably the only “man” on the face of the earth that doesn’t eat turkey. So every year my wife has to go out and buy, are you ready for this, tofu turkey pups. Now because of this fuss, the kids at the table rightfully ask, “Why does Uncle Dennis get to eat what he likes and doesn’t get to eat what he doesn’t like?” Agreed. If he wants to eat like a vegan or whatever the heck you call it, go spend Thanksgiving on a farm somewhere in Iowa. Don’t come to my house and start a turkey revolution.
Of course my wife adds to the madness by announcing to the kids that if they finish their vegetables, she will make whatever they want for dessert. In other words, everyone will get to see what it’s like to be Uncle Dennis. So they take her up on it and there she is making waffles for Kyle and grilled cheese for Shane right in the middle of my breaking-of-the-wishbone ceremony.
I had to put Uncle John in his place because he thought he was eligible for the vegetable/dessert deal. When he was told it was only for the kids, he changed the subject and demanded to know why I was the one who gets to break the wishbone every year. My answer was simple: “Because I paid for the turkey.” I said he could do it if he would give me $32 in cash right then and there, but he suddenly became disinterested.
And what’s a holiday without my mother-in-law acting like a mother-in-law? She insisted that I announce to everyone what I was wishing for when I separated the wishbone. And to that request I pleaded the Fifth Amendment. Little did she know that my wish had something to do with her tofu turkey son and Iowa.
Somehow I got through the dinner though I did pause to drink half a bottle of Pepto-Bismol. I’m sure I’ll drink the rest of it in a half hour because every year after dinner, Uncle Freddy has the job of entertaining the bored kids while everyone else settles in for a long winter’s nap. (I mean they all worked so hard lifting the fork to their mouths 8,000 times).
It’s no problem babysitting all the kids since most of the terrors are approaching the age of reason which means they’re able to play “adult” games like War and Go Fish. I rounded up the kids and said that the best I could do is put on a kid’s movie for an hour. They understood, but Uncle Robby didn’t. He was watching TV, thereby controlling the remote. “I’m watching this important hockey game between the Nashville Predators and the Calgary Flames. And it just started.” Having run out of options, I baited the kids into the backyard and closed the sliding door behind them.
Yeah, so this is what Thanksgiving is like at my house, but you know what? It’s only once a year. Yes, the relatives are eccentric, but so am I. As for the chaos, let’s just say, it’s good chaos. And it’s certainly better than being alone. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get to the store to get those tofu turkey puffs before they run out. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.