I like to think of the combination of Halloween and Thanksgiving as the preliminaries leading up to Christmas.
While I am in favor of Christmas and the splendors that come with it, Thanksgiving is the most aggravating holiday that could possibly warrant a paid day off.
So some Indians and Pilgrims sat down and had themselves a little snack.
Crazy as it seems in this age of homelessness, people actually eat. Some flamboyant types might indulge themselves with a meal everyday. I have even met a guy in New Hampshire who had the gall to eat three full meals each and every 24 hours.
I know that all of the patriotic flag-bearers out there are going to say that Thanksgiving symbolizes cooperation, the overcoming of racial boundaries, and the birth of all that is American.
Has the human race declined to such a point that we must honor those who knew the intangible art of neighborly love?
We don’t celebrate these traits anymore. All I ever hear is, “Turkey, turkey.” I don’t like turkey myself, but what is more atrocious is the sight of a sweaty-palmed man in a three-piece suit cramming food into his mouth at light speed.
Then there’s the reunion. Relatives come flocking from every little third world, backward corner of the earth.
If you have ever been to a family outing you know that Hell is a true and underestimated prophecy of the Bible.
My family’s annual journey into the darker depths of the universe are always held at Aunt Barbara’s house.
Walking in the door with a vase filled with deviled eggs, and a jug of some soft pasty gunk my brother made, I am blinded by a wall of cigarette smoke as thick as molasses on a cold winter day.
Walking through the house, I am met with the aroma of burnt turkey, battered potatoes, and biscuit dust rising to my nose. A moment or two will pass before I regain consciousness, and I greet the family.
My most despondent relatives manage to stuff themselves into a sofa, two love seats, and a wicker table stool.
My uncle Harold, a classic assault on intelligence, is dressed in a pair of loose-fitting jeans that constantly slip from his waist. His transparent tank top is as old as the night is black.
Harold will be more than glad to share with you his philosophy on the communists who run the Dunkin Donuts down the street from his house.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, Harold is a few boots short of a square dance.
Harold is just one step up from my cousin Ricky. My family and I are fortunate if he manages to wear a shirt at all.
Ricky’s hair is receding so fast that if you draw a red dot at his hairline in the morning, by nightfall you can count off another inch.
After an hour of discussing which family member caused the death of Grandpa James, we all scrounge up forks, cardboard plates and whatever amount of intestinal fortitude we can muster.
And, the most threatening tradition of Thanksgiving arrives. The saying of Thankful-givings.
You can almost see the brains leaking out of my relatives’ ears as they try to remember the speech they thought up while in bed the previous night.
I can pinpoint the exact moment this illustrious event takes a turn for the worse.
Just as I am about to jump up and declare that they should all be thankful for the fact that I am not carrying a gun and an ample supply of bullets, Ricky, still deciding on whether a fourth pint of vodka would increase the likelihood of his finishing the meal, speaks.
“I’m thankful for large woman with facial hair, and a large closet to keep them in,” Ricky says, holding out his index finger with expectations of a pull. On having no takers, he pulls on it himself.
Thanksgiving would be a great holiday if it actually brought people closer together and made them truly appreciate what they have.
Let’s face it, though, all that ever comes together on Thanksgiving is people and their tolerance for pain.
If you find yourself gnawing on a roasted piece of tree bark that your aunt swears is turkey, just remember I warned you.
Tell your family you won’t be at dinner this year because you’re a reborn Satanist and eating a turkey, a dead one anyway, just wouldn’t be proper.
And then again, what would life be without family?
True, they make you insane, but in the end, I guess it is their insanity which allows us to feel sane.
Originally published by Glendale Community College’s “The Voice,” in November, 1992.