Ten Best: Ways to ruin Thanksgiving

by Dave Roberts

Serve ham

First of all, it’s Thanksgiving. You serve turkey. End of discussion. Second, as we all know, ham is turkey’s mortal enemy, a cold-cut feud that’s been raging for decades in deli sections across the country. Further, turkey is downright American. When the founding fathers were picking a national symbol, did Benjamin Franklin argue (unsuccessfully) that it be a pig? No. And you know why? Because, as everyone who took 9th grade English knows, pigs are fascists.

Don’t have a TV

Television, while largely responsible for the increasing rates of stupid in our society, does have its benefits. Despite, or rather because of, its hypnotic effects on the mind, it allows people with little in common besides genotypes who grew sick of each other’s idiosyncrasies years ago to tolerate each other for a few more hours. Who are you to reinvent the wheel? And what else are you going to do once you’ve loaded up on tryptophans? Jog?

Discuss politics

Okay, so Hillary’s a calculating android and Giuliani’s a Mussoulini wannabe with a combover. John McCain’s still got some crazy to work out from being in the tiger pit and John Edwards looks and talks like a Ken doll. Save it for your blog, not your long-prepared-for showdown with your wingnut brother or your moonbat daughter-in-law. Just let him or her blather on while you sit drinking your beer/fine white wine, comfortable in the knowledge that you’re right.

Discuss religion

The absolute best part about Thanksgiving is that it’s entirely secular, and therefore all inclusive. There’s never a row in the media about it being too commercial or shoved aside for Hanukkah or Ramadan or Tet, or how it’s a satanic plot to seduce our children with Snickers bars. It’s a nice break in between Halloween and Christmas, during each of which we get a good heapin’ helpin’ o’ crazy.

Sit at one table

Having sat at both, I will forever be in support of the kids’ table theory of seating arrangement. The adults get a break from the squealing and the noise. The kids get a break from boring conversations about lawn mower brands and, for the briefest of moments, have a tiny little corner of the universe where they have sovereignty.

Invite a recently converted vegan

Nothing against vegans, but during those first few weeks they’re generally A: fervent and proselytizing in their newfound lifestyle and B: hungry as fuck. Sermons about the suffering of innocent turkeys (our presidents’ traditional pardons notwithstanding) delivered from a mouth that’s salivating at the thought of roasted bird flesh don’t go well with stuffing and taters.

Start a fire

Not a year goes by that you don’t hear about some idiot who tried to grill indoors, or set his porch ablaze with a deep-fat fryer. Whether it’s candles, an unminded stove or a pyromaniac in the family, Thanksgiving just isn’t all that Thanksgiving-y with a visit from the fire department.


If she says no in front of her family, you look like an idiot and they’ll be talking about it for years. If she says no in front of your family, she’s the stuck-up chick who’s too good for the likes of you (and by extension, them). Either way makes for a tremendously awkward trip back. Despite what a million Hollywood rom-com’s tell you, marriage proposals, like colonoscopies, are best conducted without an audience.

Make major, shocking announcements

Whether you’re coming out of the closet or announcing that you’re quitting law school to get the band back together, anything that has the potential to make your mother wonder aloud how she failed is best handled, like the previous item, privately… when the extended family isn’t there to say they told you so.

Get hammered

With the smattering of holidays already dedicated to getting stewed (i.e. New Year’s, St. Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, hell, the vernal equinox will do in a pinch), why pick the one where both your doting grandmother and your admiring nephew will be present? Have turkey on Turkey Day. Save the booze for Booze Day (which is sometime in August, I believe).