Welcome to My Dysfunctional Family Thanksgiving

Image Source: Serge Bielanko Private

I come from a long line of crazies.

If that sentence makes you feel a surge of warmth well up in your chest, then you are probably my kind of people. If just the mere allusion to another person’s family being dredged in dysfunction gets your heart beating faster at the prospect of aligning yourself with a fellow human being who KNOWS what it’s like to be born and raised in a damn nuthouse, then I think you and I should probably share a smile right about now.

Because Thanksgiving is here again.

And it’s time for the crazy people to rejoice together in unity at the prospect of yet another … ummmm … shall we say “adventurous” Turkey day.

See, far be it for me to judge, because I’ve never actually known a calm, gentle Thanksgiving where everyone is gathered around the TV — watching football, sharing light banter and chuckles, and passing the crab dip for all to enjoy, but my guess is that Thanksgivings with normal people are boring. I wouldn’t know — it’s just a guess, but there you have it.

But still, you know what I say? To hell with quaint family gatherings!

Off with the heads of the politically correct tongue-biters who dare not to speak their minds for fear of offending a distant cousin on this day of grateful regard.

Bah humbug to all of the well-educated polite, proper people who gather around the hearth on Thanksgiving day to celebrate the season with the ones they love.

I mean, let’s be honest — “the ones they love” — even that’s a stretch on Thanksgiving, no? Chances are that there are at least three people sitting within a yard of the creamed onions who you couldn’t care less about. Or who you even (admit it!) loathe. Yet that’s the beauty of this American tradition, isn’t it? The longer I live and the more Thanksgivings I experience, the more I have come to realize that this holiday isn’t simply about giving thanks for all of the blessings and love and blah blah blah in your life. Oh no no no.


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Thanksgiving — if you’re really, really digging into the deep, dark giblets of the thing — is probably best served as the day when you raise a toast to the madness of your lineage. It’s a day — at one of the darkest times of the year — when booze and gravy need to be swirled together to create the perfect tiny buzz that allows each and every one of us who are being honest with ourselves to hurrah the fact that it is a serious wonder of nature that we all haven’t killed each other by now.

Look at the table all around you this year! Have a slug of cheap white wine and glance down at your mom and your dad and stepmom (Evil Eyes). See the steaming insanity rising up off of your sisters and brothers and all of their kids (spoiled crazy little a**es). Peer out past the high hill of ultra-dry bird (79th year in a row for your clan) and take a moment to look at your cousins (who you never see but like it that way) and at your Uncle Lou (so drunk he’s slurring!) and the very creepy “family friend” who is ALWAYS at your family’s Thanksgiving table and who is, quite frankly, freaking you out the way he’s looking at you from behind his crystal goblet of sparkling grape juice (WTF?!).

This is your life!

This is your family!

If you could put out a calendar with a photo of each of them, one a month, you’d probably be super rich by this time next year. THANKSGIVING FREAKS! 2017. You’d make a mint and you know it.


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Kids kicking each other under the table, spilling cups of Dr. Pepper all over the carpet. No one saying anything about the election that just passed until finally someone does and World War III breaks out — complete with crying matriarchs and men nearly coming to blows on the front lawn. Strange sultry eyes from your cousin Rick’s new girlfriend, Ella, towards your Dad. And your Dad smiling at Ella, passing her the stuffing for the ninth time in like six minutes.

It’s all popping off.

There is not a rom-com on Earth with more chaos in it than this over-lit dining room that you only see once a year … right here, right now.

This is what Thanksgiving is all about, if you ask me. I love it. Oh how I adore the Pageantry of the Truly Dysfunctional when they are masquerading as your typical Pinterest-y American family. I love those moments when everyone first gathers, before the booze kicks in and the kids remember how much they can’t stand their distant relatives, when the twinkling merriment is just a foreshadowing breeze before the wild gales of reality start blowing the windows out.

This is the poetry of life. And you and me, we are lucky to be able to call it our own.

Never forget that. In fact, be thankful for it. Be super grateful for the very fact that you, as insane as you are, and your crazy relatives all get together in the name of love in the time of arguing. In the name of bonds in the time of snarls.

Do not be fooled, my friends. Those turkeys didn’t grow up on a horrific farm in a horrific style just so you could dig into their chemically-inflated flesh and celebrate the wonders of life. Hell no. Those turkeys spent their whole lives heading for your late November fork just so that you’d have an excuse to be among the ones that matter most.

Your family. Seize this day with them. Laugh and be merry with them. Let them see the sincere love in your eye for them. Then speak your mind to them after three stiff drinks and two slices of pie.

Because this is Thanksgiving.

And blood is thicker than that cheap wine your aunt swills.

Happy holidays!

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