Thanksgiving Is All Relative

In case you’re wondering why vast numbers of alleged relatives whose last names you are not sure of mysteriously showed up at your house last week, the reason is simple: it was Thanksgiving and they all expected to be fed. For many of you, the thing you were most thankful for was that only the relatives whose faces you recognize came for dinner.

I have nothing against relatives, mind you. I simply adore relatives. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for my relatives, and I certainly wouldn’t have a reasonable topic for this week’s column, which would mean I’d have to resort to my back-up topic, which pertains to phlegm. So I certainly appreciate relatives.

The thing is, when you get a group of people together whose only thing in common is a set of parents, you’re bound to have a few “hassles,” that is, if by “hassles” we mean “gunshot victims.”

With your permission (just try and stop me!), I’d like to relate to you a virtually factless account of what happened at my aunt’s house last Thursday. And you can be thankful when it’s over.

Things started out well enough. Six hundred and forty seven relatives and I were sitting comfortably in my aunt’s living room, some of us sitting comfortably on top of three or four other people, just quietly watching the “Twilight Zone” Marathon on channel 5. And everything was nice and peaceful. If we could have stayed like that forever, life would have been truly joyous and fulfilling, except of course that we all would have starved to death, so I’m glad we didn’t try it.

The day started downhill when my mother came out of the kitchen, followed closely by several aunts and grandmothers and other assorted cooking-related female relatives, all of them announcing in harmonious unison that dinner was ready.

So we all eventually made it to the 300-hundred foot long table that had been set up in the dining room, and everyone had their plates full almost before you could recite “Desiderata” backwards with your head severed from your body and in another room.

For most of my relatives, conversation flowed quickly and freely, just like a babbling brook, and it is not without irony that I use the word “babbling,” if you get my drift. My family can be very amusing when they get together because their main topic of conversation always seems to involve debating who among them is the sickest. This little “quirk” is perhaps most endearing at the dinner table.

“So the doctor told me I had Inflammation of the Really Gross Internal Waste-Related Organ, and he said he’d have to take it out.”

“That’s nice. Pass the potatoes, please.”

“Yeah, but have you ever had a tapeworm? I just got over one. They just clamp onto your intestine and start sucking and sucking and sucking and sucking until Eric decides this sentence is long enough without saying ‘and sucking’ anymore. Then they die.”

“Oh, really? Pass the potatoes!”

“That’s nothing. Back in ‘Nam, I was run over by a tank. That’s where I got this scar on my arm, here…” (Displays his scar to anyone still listening.) “Cool, eh?”

“Great. Now pass the potatoes, darn it!”

And so on and so on. Nothing particularly unusual happened. I continued my sixteen-year streak of never attempting to eat cranberry sauce for the simple reason that it doesn’t look much like sauce to me. It looks more like cranberry lump, or cranberry loaf, or cranberry brick. But not cranberry sauce.

After dinner, someone decided that the best thing for a bunch of turkey-engorged, indigested persons to do would be to go outside and play tackle football in the sandy area that was supposed to be a volleyball court only it didn’t have poles or a net, so it was really just a big sandy area. We did it, but we didn’t like it.

I love Thanksgiving.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Some of you expressed confusion last week when my headline read, “Kristy Grasso is Miss Lake Elsinore, Erin Perez is Homecoming Queen — but can they jump?” After reading the story, you noticed that that headline makes absolutely no sense. The reason is that it was supposed to say “but can they burp?”, which does pertain to the story. There is apparently some federal law against having the word “burp” in a headline, and in protest, I’m trying it again this week. Quickly look up to the headline of this column and see if the word “burp” appears. If it doesn’t, well, then write your congressman. I’m being censored.

The headline for this column was "Thanksgiving Inspires Conversations, and a Few Burps, Too," and it made it through, so no one had to write their congressman.

I don't like this column because most of it is simply not true. The long part about debating who's sicker, while true of many families, is not true of mine. My family is not terribly fascinating at Thanksgiving, so I had to use something I thought people could relate to in order to make the column funny.

My aunt Janna, whose house we had dinner at, was gracious enough to point out EVERY SINGLE THING that I exaggerated. "No one talked about things like that," she said. "There weren't that many people there." We'll see if I ever write about HER again.