Sing the National Anthem Before Thanksgiving Dinner

... and other true horror stories.

by Audra Davis-Hurst

If you’re anything like me, then your family is small and also you hate most of them. Or maybe you have a large family, but you still hate most of them. Either way, at this point you’ve probably been passed around the family gatherings of enough close friends and significant others to have seen some real culinary ineptitudes. And if you’re truly unlucky, culinary sins. Oh, and anyone who is IN the family with the culinary sins? There’s no hope for you. I’m sorry.

I’m talking dry turkey, wet turkey (was it supposed to be soup? No one knows.) and green bean casserole that has a flavor similar to what the underside of a muddy sneaker might taste like. Or maybe you’ve been to a few potluck style Thanksgivings where you’re met with a scene that contains far too many pounds of lukewarm Italian beef and several plates of sad shrimp just hanging out at a table together like two high school students who kind of know each other, but don’t have this lunch period with anybody they actually like.

I recently brought this subject up with my coworkers, because I assume that everyone has led the same cursed lifestyle that I have for the majority of the last decade. But it turns out that most of the people I share an office with come from well-rounded families that they don’t hate. At least we still have the weird food in common, right? The ambrosia salad that no one eats but someone brings every year anyway? The gritty, kind of cold mashed potatoes?

I sent out an office wide email asking everyone for their weirdest Thanksgiving experiences. Some had some good stories, some were all, “My life is perfect. I come from a long line of master pie makers and I die from pie consumption every year and I love it!”

IMPORTANT NOTE: Some of these are real, and some are made up. The question is…which ones?

1. Audra

I spent several years dating a man who had grandparents that hosted Thanksgiving in an absolutely filthy garage. Everything was served in disposable aluminum containers and it was always practically cold. They’d offer to heat it up in the microwave for me, but on the inside it looked like someone microwaved a cup of blood until it exploded, so I always politely declined. I never ate anything with meat in it. Why? Because every year they wouldn’t leave me alone about trying some of the raccoon stuffing, and I didn’t trust them not to secretly feed me raccoon meat.

2. Brian

Brian has an aunt who brings jello every year, but one time she used a skull shaped mold to “remind everyone of what will happen if they indulge in too much dessert”. Now half of the children in his family call it “the poisoned jello” every single year, which is really weird for anyone who is new.

3. Dan

Dan once attended a friendsgiving where the hosts served a tofurky instead of a normal turkey. All in all, not the worst thing he’s ever eaten. But the sight of it! Nightmare fuel. If you don’t know what a tofurky looks like, just imagine a turkey with the legs and wings cut off that has been sitting in the backseat of someone’s car for a week. Bon Appétit.

4. Doug

One year, Doug’s father-in-law wouldn’t let anyone have a plate until they did their best impression of a turkey. And if he didn’t think your heart is really in it, he made you do it again. “It was not a great Thanksgiving,” Doug yelled, unprompted, at 1:30 p.m. in his office.

5. Keith

Keith and his family weren’t really feeling it one Thanksgiving, so they decided to make some homemade pizzas and hang out by themselves at home for the day. This might seem like a wholesome story, but all four of them came down with food poisoning and had to go to the hospital. The doctor informed them that a lot of people don’t clean pizza cutters properly, causing bacteria to build up between the blade and the handle and that it’s probably what made all of them so sick.

6. Ken

Ken’s family has a table completely dedicated to crackers. Everyone brings a different kind and it’s just sort of a thing now. “We have a lot of leftover crackers, but you just put them in a plastic bag and they’re still good for a while. I mix mine all together; it’s fun to see what kind of cracker you’re going to get,” is what Ken had to say about it.

7. Lawrence

Lawrence’s uncle hosts Thanksgiving almost every single year. For the most part, it’s pretty average. Except for the butter dish situation. There’s the butter dish (normal) and then there’s the butter dish that contains a block of cream cheese that has been molded into the shape of a stick of butter and shoved inside of it. “WHY,” you might be screaming. His reasoning? He has two fancy butter dishes, but they don’t need that much butter.

8. Logan

Logan was completely nonchalant about the fact that his family serves a tray of double stuffed Oreos for dessert every year. Yes, just the cookies. There is nothing special about them. Everyone gets a glass of milk, and then they have cookies. “I don’t know, my family just isn’t big on a lot of desserts, I guess,” he said.

9. Luke

Luke didn’t have any weird stories for us, but he did want to talk about meat. “Is it okay if I rant?” he said, like the troll that he is, before launching into a speech about how all holiday meat is bad. “Turkey? Trash. Ham? More like SCRAM, am I right?” He is insistent that no matter how you cook them, they are always bad. When questioned about his thoughts on honeyed ham, he scrunched his face up and looked real gross, if I’m being honest.

10. Rafal

A couple years ago, Rafal tried to follow a fancy turkey recipe that said to cook the turkey upside down and then flip it right side up towards the end. It did not go well. The whole thing fell apart! Turkey juice splattered everywhere! It was basically a crime scene. You might think that turkey was ruined, but Rafal served it anyway. “It still tasted fine.” I have my doubts.

11. Shannon

Shannon’s family always says grace before their Thanksgiving meal, and one year everyone thought it would be cute if her six-year-old niece said it. The poor girl didn’t know what to say, and got so nervous that she stood up and started doing the Macarena. When she was done, no one really said anything and she started to cry. Her dad stood up and also did the Macarena, then her grandfather joined him and before you knew it, everyone was doing the Macarena. Now it’s become a family tradition and everyone does the Macarena before sitting down to say grace.

12. Steph

Steph puts ketchup on her turkey. Her family doesn’t like it, but they allow it. Ivor Andrew, however, is putting that fact under Areas Of Improvement in her next performance review.

13. Susan

When Susan was a child, she thought that you were supposed to sing the national anthem before Thanksgiving dinner. No one in her family really knew where she got it from, but they let her do it until she was 8.

14. You

What terrible Thanksgiving dishes did you manage to survive? Call our office at 630–588–8320 and tell us about it. Please do not waste time giving your name; just jump right into the story. We are incredibly busy and important, you see.

Answer Key:
Dan: T
Keith: F