Though Miss Cleo and I are on a first-name basis (we dated in high school), I personally have no psychic ability. And yet, I will herein predict exactly what will happen at my parents’ house on Thanksgiving. Prepare to be startled and amazed, and possibly bored.
1:00 a.m. — Mom and Dad go down to the church to borrow some folding chairs so all the relatives have a place to sit.
1:04 a.m. — Mom and Dad encounter seven other couples doing the same thing, each pretending they have some other reason for being at the church at 1 a.m.
3:42 a.m. — The leader of the turkey nation awakes with a start, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
7:15 a.m. — Dad participates in the ward “Turkey Bowl” football game, despite having sworn each of the past 15 years that he’s getting too old for this.
7:20 a.m. — Dad officially gets too old for this.
10:13 a.m. — Someone jokingly tells Mom she’s ruined Thanksgiving.
12:49 p.m. — Relatives begin arriving by the vanful. There are guarded hugs and polite kisses all around. All secretly marvel at how much fatter and older everyone has gotten.
12:58 p.m. — The wives of my cousins pretend to know who I am.
1:02 p.m. — First sighting of Uncle Kenny’s butt crack.
1:22 p.m. — I make awkward conversation with my 18-year-old cousin Hollie, with whom I have never successfully conversed for more than 11 seconds.
1:31 p.m. — My cousin Ethan says something vile.
1:45 p.m. — I stare blankly at a TV from which a football game is emanating. I’m so bored by it, I feel like a damn woman.
1:51 p.m. — Someone tells Mom she’s ruined Thanksgiving, but they mean it.
2:05 p.m. — Before anyone can eat, we have to go around the table and each name something we are thankful for. Someone says, “That we’re finally about to eat,” which gets a laugh EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Meanwhile, my brother Jeff and my cousin Nathan are already eating.
2:09 p.m. — Grandpa offers a prayer, during which my brother Chris keeps his eyes open to make faces at whoever else has their eyes open, and during which Jeff and Nathan continue eating, though somewhat more quietly.
2:10 p.m. — First belch (male).
2:15 p.m. — Mashed potato supply depleted. Blame is placed on Jeff and Nathan, but the truth is, there weren’t enough mashed potatoes to begin with. I loudly complain about this fact, and about how this is the case every year, but the only response given is that if I want there to be more mashed potatoes, I ought to make some more myself. I find this extraordinarily unhelpful.
2:19 p.m. — First belch (female).
2:29 p.m — Grandpa’s new wife Margrit is informed that she’s not really our grandma, so we don’t have to listen to her.
3:32 p.m. — Someone intentionally does something that was predicted in this column, just because it was predicted in this column.
3:50 p.m. — Grandpa dozes off, his mouth wide open like he’s some kind of catfish or something. A picture is taken for posterity.
4:10 p.m. — Relatives begin to stagger bloatedly out the door.
5:32 p.m. — As my brother Jeff dishes up a plate of leftovers, Mom says, “Jeff, we JUST ATE!”
5:45 p.m. — Quiet settles on the house. My immediate family and I sit around the living room and crack each other up, largely through making fun of everyone we know. For a little while, everything in the world seems OK. Then Mom starts getting weepy-eyed about how everything in the world seems OK, and we have to turn on her.
This is under the "it's funny because it's true" category. It's possible people who are not in my family won't find it terribly amusing, but I tried to choose items that, while certainly applicable to my family, were universal, too. Doesn't everyone have an uncle whose butt crack is always turning up at family gatherings? (By the way, the uncle in question was angry about the joke in this column and treated me with particular meanness that Thanksgiving, though it was days later before anyone told me why he was being that way.)
I like how "First belch (male)" and "First belch (female)" sound like Grammy categories.
The part after the comma in the 3:42 a.m. entry is a quote from "Star Wars." It's verbatim (I transcribed it directly from the videotape), and the word "suddenly" really is used twice. I don't like the line that way, but I felt accuracy was important.