As the Turkey Turns

Thanksgiving is a holiday typically spent with family and/or friends, reflecting on the gifts in our lives, being thankful for the small and the big, the precious and the ridiculous.

Thanksgiving in my life tends to be, well, dramatic. Or, at the very least, entertaining. I end up being thankful that the day wasn’t worse. Here are a just a few examples of Thanksgiving pasts:

As the Turkey Turns, Episode 1

There was the year that I was away from my family for the very first time, ever. I was living with Boyfriend, and we planned to have a small celebration. I got the turkey. I called my mother for directions on how to stuff it. I made the side dishes. I called my mother to double check recipes. I baked four different desserts, because that’s how my family always did it (not thinking that it was because we usually served fifteen or more people).

Meanwhile, Boyfriend lounged in the living room watching, you guessed it, football. I slaved away in the kitchen, ignorant that you can prep days in advance. Translation: I was making the whole damn meal, pies and all, that morning. Then the phone rang. Boyfriend’s best friend. Wanting to play football with the guys for the afternoon. Want to guess what happened next? That’s right, Boyfriend kissed me goodbye, said he’d be back in time for dinner, and left. I think I cried my way through the sweet potatoes. And I called my mom.

As the Turkey Turns, Episode 2

Then there was the year that some members of my family were invited to stay at a friend’s house on Cape Cod. He encouraged us to bring our dogs because of the great backyard. My mother, my sister, and I were psyched we didn’t have to board our dogs for the long weekend. The three dogs were having a great time playing in the backyard; they didn’t make a peep the whole time. We cooked and drank and socialized and ate and never once had to worry about those awesome, well-behaved dogs.

Late that night, we were all tucked into bed when my husband heard a strange sound. He got up, but he didn’t know where the lights were. He was feeling his way around in the dark when he stepped in a huge pile of crap. He jumped to the side and stepped in another huge pile of crap. Again, he leaped for safety, and again, landed smack dab in crap. It was everywhere! All over the hall floor, the carpeted stairway, the oriental rugs on the first floor, the kitchen floor. Even crap splatters on the walls and furniture. One of the dogs apparently sat on the white couch and scooted across the cushions, if you get my drift. We surmised that all three dogs had eaten bark that had fallen from the trees in the yard, and it came out in an explosive show. We tried cleaning it up, but couldn’t get it all out. We did fess up and offered to pay for professional cleaning. Our friend declined our offer, but curiously, we were not invited back.

I think he may have even moved.

As the Turkey Turns, Episode 3

Next up, the worst Thanksgiving ever. Last year, when my mother collapsed. It was terrible at the time, but my family, being who they are, always manage to find the humor in even the worst of circumstances.

As the Turkey Turns, Episode 4

Finally, this year. Thanksgiving 2013. My mother hosted, and there were about 12 of us. It was all going so well, until the police showed up. Apparently, a neighbor called to complain about a dog barking. That would be my mother’s dog, Liesl.

This is Liesl. She's not as menacing as she looks in this photo.

This is Liesl. She’s not as menacing as she looks in this photo.

She barks to be heard, let me tell you. Now, I could understand the police being summoned if she was barking at, say, 1am. But, it was 5:15pm. Apparently, the complaint was severe enough that the police were prepared to take Liesl away and impound her. The women in our family met Officer Friendly on the porch and, shall we say, sweet-talked him? Thankfully, Officer Friendly let us off with a warning. But now my mom is on the “naughty” list with the police and that didn’t make her happy.

She’s already investigating which of her neighbors was home that fateful night.

Have you had any crazy Thanksgivings?

55 thoughts on “As the Turkey Turns

  1. Liesl is adorable. :) At my sister’s first Thanksgiving with the family attempt (coincidentally the first time she roasted a turkey) she didn’t take the packaged giblets out before stuffing and roasting.

  2. Oh, boy, Kate, I’ve never had a holiday come close to those events and misadventures! I’m guessing Episode 1′s boyfriend did not become your husband. And I might have died of embarrassment in Episode 2. ;) My family had a Christmas far too much like your Episode 3, but nothing has ever led to a visit from the police as in Episode 4! I really hope you can have some future holidays that are uneventful and simply enjoyable for all in attendance, even if they don’t provide great blog fodder. :)

  3. You have certainly had some good ones. My Thanksgiving claim to fame came one year when I was cooking dinner at the firehouse. Trying to do everything between calls takes a lot of talent. Unfortunately, I tried to rush boiling the potatoes and they burned. Have I said how much I hate electric ranges!!! anyway the firemen ate the crunchy potatoes with bits of charcoal in it. They probably wouldn’t have noticed if we had had a fire call that day, only medicals. You know eating smoke will taint your pallet and disguise burnt food. Oh well!

    • Hey Dennis,

      I was thinking that they wouldn’t have been able to taste the difference, lol. If you’re going to serve burned food, you’re relatively safe with firemen. :) I love that story.

  4. Oh, wow, I’m thinking you might never want to board a plane on Thanksgiving. Luck doesn’t seem to go your way that day. ;) But look at it this way, every one of those stories could be worked into your fiction. Even the dog poo one. Maybe ESPECIALLY the dog poo one!

  5. Wow! I like how you said you made 4 pies because that’s what your family always did–that’s my reasoning too. Doesn’t matter how many people are coming!
    One T-giving, my brother in law chomped on an olive, not realizing it had a pit. He broke his tooth and was in a lot of pain. He was 2 hours from home and didn’t want to go to a dentist in our area, so he drank vodka. It was a crazy day!

  6. It’s always good to laugh at these things as much as possible! The dog poo thing really made me laugh because that’s happened with our dog at our house and once in a hotel room. She would poop, then panic and track it everywhere (and it would sometimes end up on the walls and of course all over the white bedspread in the hotel room). It was artistic in a way with all those ground in brown paw prints everywhere. The only Thanksgiving misadventure I can think of was when my brother-in-law started choking at the table and someone had to give him the Heimlich maneuver. The people sitting across from him stayed seated but ducked just in case.

    • I am sooo glad to hear that the dog poo thing happened to someone else! I still can’t think about it without shuddering in embarrassment. Having that happen in a hotel room would be awful. I love how you see it as art. ;) The choking mishap is pretty funny because of the ducking. That’s something that belongs in a television comedy.

  7. Oh my! Those are some doozies (especially the dog one). Yikes! Thanks for the laughs. I agree with Carrie that they should be worked into a story sometime.

    • Hi Vanessa,

      I think my mom has a couple of “younger” neighbors who are a little too full of themselves and have not had many life experiences like barking dogs. I hope they never have a baby–as it might be noisy on Thanksgiving.

  8. We had one that was the origination of a tradition. Our kitchen was torn up for a remodel with a target completion of Nov.1. You can guess Thanksgiving came and went without a kitchen. We grilled the Turkey on a charcoal grill in the yard. Have done so since (15 years).

  9. Wow those are some crazy experiences. I felt so bad as I read about the dog poop story. I don’t know what I would do!?! And the first story with the boyfriend — you should have locked him out. I can’t believe he didn’t help you and then just left!

    Glad this year wasn’t at all like last year’s and I’m so glad your mom was there to celebrate with you!!! :)

    • You’re right, Arlene. I should have locked him out. Ah well, learn as we go I guess. I’m glad this year was less traumatic than last. The police deal could have been a lot worse, considering they came to take Liesl away. Every cloud has a silver lining, right?

  10. Bad boyfriend! At least your Thanksgivings are entertaining and memorable, right? :) Hope you got to sit and eat the pies yourself this year. And I love the title of this post – funny!

    • He was a very bad boyfriend. Hopefully, he has learned his lesson. My Thanksgivings are worthy of retelling. I’m ready for a nice, relaxing one next year though! I had fun choosing the title. Runners-up include “All My Turkeys,” “The Turkeys of our Lives,” and “One Turkey to Live.”

  11. Fantastic stories, here, Kate. Even the heartbreaking one about Boyfriend, and the rather “dirty” one about the dogs. ;) I love that, even when you’re weaving simple stories, they’ve got suspense, tension, mystery, and laughs. Each one could stand on its own in a memoir of holidays past.

    I’m happy to hear your mom’s recovered – especially enough to host her own Thanksgiving! Now, that’s a woman! :D

    • As I mentioned above to Char, I hadn’t realized how many fateful Thanksgivings I have endured until I thought up this post topic. I didn’t even list them all in this post!

      I’m happy Mom is back on her feet, too. She’s still on O2 24/7, and we’re still messing around with finding the correct med doses, but much better than last year. She’s a trooper.

  12. Haha! (I mean, sorry.) But, episode two totally just killed me in my cubicle. Holy crap! : )

    Crazy Thanksgiving stories are the reason I don’t live in Texas anymore. (Just kidding family, love and miss you.)

    • Well, Liesl is a Bearnese Mountain dog, which is a breed that originated or is common in the Swiss Alps (or a nearby region). My mother is easily influenced and amused by such connections.

  13. I think any time multiple family members get together for more than a couple of hours – something interesting will ensue!
    Interesting timing. I just finished an article about the Sound of Music Cast being all grown up and now the dog’s name is Leisl. I would not have noticed the name, otherwise.
    Scott

  14. Oh Kathryn, thank you for sharing those crazy turkey days. The dog pooh sounds like a horror movie. ;)

    I do remember making a panicked call to CT from CA when my best friend and I decided to make our own Martha Stewart Thanksgiving. The turkey had to be cooked breast side down. Neither of us could figure out what the breast was–it had no head. So my grandmother received a call begging her to explain the secrets of the front and back of a turkey. :)

    • It was indeed a horror movie.

      Haha, your story is really funny. I can see that scene in a television comedy. The breast of a turkey isn’t really obvious, until you stand it on end. Then you can kind of make out the “swell.” :)

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