Last year, at my family’s Thanksgiving celebration, I bestowed upon my brother the honor of carving the turkey. He stared at the bird for a solid minute, halfheartedly holding a tine and knife, before dropping the tools and tearing into it with his bare hands. Last week we asked you to tell us your Thanksgiving horror stories, and my little anecdote is nothing compared to the nightmares you shared. But something about the holidays just welcomes disaster! Here are the best of your stories.
Here’s one about a short-lived new pet from gabesaves:
I have a Fantastic Thanksgiving story:
Circa 1996, I am in middle school and living in my constant bomb site of a house with my parents and five siblings. My parents were good hippies with a Roman Catholic bent who over-procreated and delivered each of their children into a world of constant chaos. On top of the six children, the house is filled with a menagerie of pets and other creatures that my mom has hoarded much like she hoarded children.
My youngest sister Christine, who was obsessed with animals, took most advantage of my mother’s favor for living things and was constantly acquiring new pets and animals from the classified ads. At any given time you could find multiple guinea pigs, hedgehogs, domestic rats, gerbils and god knows what else in her bedroom that smelled more like a barn. If it had four legs and fur it had to be hers. At this particular Thanksgiving she was 8 years old and for weeks had been begging my mother for a pet bunny, and it just so happens the day before Thanksgiving that she found a classified ad for a free one looking for a good home.
My mom capitulated quickly and before we knew it Christine’s barnyard had a new black floppy eared pet bunny named Shadow. Shadow was a little on the old side, very docile and needed a good home because his current owners were moving to a pet unfriendly rental. Unfortunately for him he ended up in our den of crazy and was quickly re-imagined into my youngest sister’s newest and bestest furry friend.
For the first twenty-four hours she had Shadow he never once touched the ground, she carried him under arm, fed him snacks, cradled him like a baby and wouldn’t part for a second with her new pet. The next day was Thanksgiving and when it came time to eat, unsurprisingly Christine was nowhere to be found. I was sent to retrieve her and found her in her bedroom/barn with all of her stuffed animals and Shadow arranged as if they were having some sort of party. Exasperated with my sister I told her she had to come to dinner and when she asked if she could bring Shadow to dinner I responded with a, “I don’t care just come downstairs.”
I return to dinner with Christine following closely behind, bunny in tow. When we got to the table my Dad noticed Christine still had her bunny and told her to put Shadow away and sit at the table like a normal kid. When Christine left though I noticed that she didn’t return Shadow to his cage in her room and instead snuck him onto a chair in the kitchen and pushed the chair under the table, getting Shadow out of sight but still only a room away from her. She joined us at Thanksgiving and proceeded to devour her food as fast as possible to avoid any possible interaction with people and to return to her beloved pets. Meanwhile, I am sitting at the Dining room table thinking, “This must be the most docile rabbit on earth, what animal would sit tight on a chair and never move while we ate dinner?”
Christine finishes eating and begs to be excused, to which my dad acquiesces. She darts from the table, retrieves Shadow from his hiding spot and returns to her pet sanctuary upstairs. I am still perplexed by this rabbit’s behavior, and decided to follow Christine upstairs after I finish eating as well.
When I find Christine in her room she is busy doting on another animal in it’s cage, the stuffed animals are still arranged on the floor, and Shadow is with them, just as unmoving and static as the stuffed animals all posed in their make-believe party. I give Shadow a nudge and realize this rabbit is stone cold dead and stiff as a board, and I make the realization that my sister has spent the entire Thanksgiving day playing with a rabbit she killed within hours of owning it. I back out slowly and go tell my parents and the family finishes Thanksgiving dinner with a burial in our backyard Pet Cemetery amidst Christine’s howling cries.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
We quickly move to a few tales of Turkey Day ER visits. NoGStringsAttached:
Location: Las Vegas, NV
My uncle, who is a lovable but often drunk man, is the eldest boy in the family and; therefore, the official turkey carver by birthright. (I have no idea why my Grandfather just didn’t do the honors.) My Grandmother had recently purchased an electric carving knife and insisted that he use it for Thanksgiving. My uncle drunkenly picks up the carving knife in the midst of a long-winded, impassioned toast to, well, no one can remember, and decides to put it on full blast before making contact with the turkey. The knife skipped off the turkey and directly onto his hand. Blood everywhere. Everyone starts running around trying to clean him up, get the car, go to the ER, etc. while my grandmother calmly dabs the blood off the turkey and serves it to my cousins and sister.
God, I miss my Nana.
And pre-Thanksgiving ER visits. Vegemighty:
Two days before Thanksgiving t was raining and I had a cold, so I managed to get my grandpa to drive me to school instead of riding my bike (they frequently came over in the morning to get my little sister and me off to school). He had a big old-man sedan, and I couldn’t quite reach the seat belt. No big deal, just this once, except that he had a minor stroke on the way there and we jumped a curb and hit a wall and I bit through my tongue (could have been worse, we went across oncoming traffic to do so). I got out of the car and hollered at someone to call an ambulance before a passerby forced me to lay down. I thought I might suffocate; the cold meant I couldn’t breathe through my nose, and I was worried I might choke on all the blood in my mouth which I didn’t want to spit out or swallow due to fear of a big flapping piece of tongue coming all the way off and going with it.
Thanksgiving dinner smelled great that year, and the mashed potatoes were terrific. Even the pumpkin pie filling was pretty good. With a giant tongue full of a couple dozen stitches, that was about all I could eat.
tl;dr - one time I bit through my tongue and my diet was significantly limited for a few weeks in late fall.
Oh so you thought you’d make it through this blog without tales of gastrointestinal distress? No siree. DJ Boris Yeltsin:
My very large Irish catholic family gets together family reunion style at Thanksgiving every year, and descends on my grandmother’s tiny house en masse (40+ people). At Thanksgiving a few years ago, post food, the basement bathroom began to see heavy traffic. A few hours later, the toilet began to overflow turning the downstairs bathroom into the river of slime under Manhattan in Ghostbuster II - except it wasn’t slime. On the down side, my uncle’s shop vac was destroyed in the clean up process. On the plus side, we now refer to that Thanksgiving as The Shituation (though I lobbied hard for ‘The Fecalamity’).
But wait, there’s more! Admiral Sackbar:
A roommate of mine and myself found ourselves on our own to cook a dinner one year in Minnesota. The week before, while we had been out of town, the pilot light went out and the pipes had all frozen in our 1920’s era rental house. This house was utter shit, and unbeknownst to us, but most crucially, the bathroom plumbing was out of commission.
My roommate had unleashed hell on earth on our upstairs toilet the minute he got into the house from the airport, and strangely, didn’t think too much of it when the toilet wouldn’t work and he had to use a bucket of water to manually flush.. We will return to this later.
For our dinner we decided to go the route of the beer can turkey, stuffed said cans into the turkey, and let nature run its course. Nature, meanwhile, was also running its course through our upstairs plumbing and I received a panicked call to come back to the house “right fucking now.”
The manual flush had taken care of the previous wreckage in our bathroom, and had washed the fetid waste down the pipe, right to the break - which was directly over the kitchen. I walked into the house and was greeted with a solid drip of fecal water into a makeshift bucket that had been erected directly next to the hot oven with the turkey cooking inside of it, thereby creating an intermingling of scents that should never exist together.
It was the worst, but the beer can turkey turned out great! Happy fucking Thanksgiving.
Meet the norovirus. khorner88:
For over 15 years now my family has gone to Breckenridge, Colorado for some early season skiing. We used to rent a nice, cozy (read: compact - this becomes important later) condo for the week. The second night of the 2012 trip went a steakhouse we’ve had great experiences with in the past. Roughly halfway through my meal I feel completely full, to the point I can’t even finish my drink. This was odd considering that I had been skiing all day and hadn’t really eaten much. We walk around downtown for roughly an hour following the meal and the “completely stuffed” feeling does not subside. We get back to the condo and after a few false alarms I completely vacate the contents of my stomach, Crank Yankers-style, into the kitchen sink. The bout of vomiting left me exhausted so I cleaned myself up and went to bed for the evening - or so I thought. Roughly 20 minutes after getting into bed I feel the unmistakable Dumb & Dumber stomach-drop telling me that I had a real emergency. After dropping a deluge of filth & terribleness in the toilet I noticed the “completely stuffed” feeling has returned. As I feared, this began an alternating cycle of horror that persisted for two or three days. When I wasn’t vomiting or shitting uncontrollably, I was dealing with bouts of the shakes, runaway sweating, and alternating between freezing cold & unbearably hot. Above all else, I was completely exhausted. My inability to hold down any food or sleep had left me exhausted to the point that I thought I might be dying.
My family and I had initially chalked this all up to food poisoning. As we would later learn, it was not food poisoning but the norovirus. For those you are (blissfully) unfamiliar with the norovirus, it is a hyper-contagious stomach flu that hits hard & fast - the kind of stomach bug that can tear through an entire cruise ship in just a couple days.
Remember how I mentioned earlier that our condo was a little on the small side? This meant that there was nowhere to hide for anyone as the infection tore through (in order) my Mom, brother, Dad, Grandparents, and finally my sister. There was nothing we could do as each one of us repeated the same vomiting, shitting, & shaking cycle turning our once pleasant ski-in, ski-out condo into a disease-ridden pool of filth. Despite all of this, we still attempted to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner that consisted of a few pathetic bites of turkey (that promptly made a reappearance). Following our pitiful Thanksgiving dinner my Grandmother came down with the bug so bad that she had to be checked into the hospital for a few days. My sister managed to hold out the longest, managing to bring the infection back to her sorority house resulting in the entire series of events repeating itself there.
Although we have continued our tradition of going to Breckenridge each Thanksgiving, we could not bring ourselves to return to the condo we had rented and enjoyed for many years knowing of the horror that occurred there in 2012. Needless to say, we have also not returned to the steakhouse considering that the norovirus is most commonly transmitted through contaminated food... or fecal matter. But hey - we all managed to lose weight over the Thanksgiving holiday for once.
Get to know the norovirus better. Dolz:
It was Thanksgiving 2010. It was a “Big Year.” Basically this meant my entire mom’s side of the family would be going to my uncle’s house for a Thanksgiving Feast this year and they would spend the holiday next year at their in-laws; a “Small Year.”
It seemed like a typical Thanksgiving — small talk with family you don’t see that often, the dreaded taking of the family Christmas Card picture, and enjoying a perfectly cooked meal. My sister Sarah even brought her 1 year old daughter, and she was passed around and coddled more than the mashed potatoes. However, Sarah forgot to mention to the entire family that my niece had been quite ill the morning of Thanksgiving. We would later find out that she had Norovirus and she had passed the disease to 42 of the 46 Thanksgiving attendees.
If you’re not familiar with Norovirus, go ahead and Wikipedia it. The one thing I’ll add is that all off those symptoms occur at the exact same time. Have you ever been freezing cold but sweating profusely? It’s awful. Everything that you put into your system was evacuated within 45 minutes from whichever route it preferred. You’re helpless, at the mercy of the virus.
While most of my family has a fantastic story about where they were when their symptoms set in, I’ll go ahead and share mine. For most of us, the first sign that something was wrong occurred the evening of Black Friday. I was home for the first time since going off to college. Since that was the case, I was trying to make it a point to see as many of my friends from home that I could. I spent the morning Black Friday shopping with some friends who wanted to go. In the afternoon, I rested up for a big night out with two of my best friends, Ryan and Sam. The plan? Catch up with the gang and enjoy a couple of drinks downtown. Sam picked me up with Ryan in the front seat. I got in the back seat and we took off. As soon as we started moving, I could tell that something wasn’t right. I thought I could tough it out, but when we got about halfway downtown, I told Sam to turn around and take me home. Right after we turned the car around, I rolled down the window, said “Sorry guys,” and proceeded to vomit all over the side of Sam’s car while we were driving. “Did you start early, Dolz?” Sam said as he and Ryan chuckled. Once he dropped me off, I gave Sam $10 for a car wash and ran inside to the bathroom. One by one, the rest of my immediate family fell ill. By 10:30 Friday night, everyone buy my dad (1 of the successful 4) was experiencing the violence of Norovirus.
I didn’t sleep Friday night. Nobody did. When I went downstairs Saturday morning, my whole family was sprawled out on the living room floor, not wanting to move unless it was to the bathroom. We were defeated. Several cousins, aunts, and uncles ended up in the hospital, simply in need of IV fluids to make sure they didn’t die from dehydration. I was able to escape the hospital thanks to some Popsicles that I slowly ate all day Saturday. That seemed to be the only tolerable thing my body could handle.
My sister Paige was my ride back to school on Sunday as she was heading that way. A 6-hour drive that we couldn’t make until Monday because we both just did not have the energy to operate a car, let alone move. So instead of traveling, Sunday was spent re-vitalizing our bodies and it consisted of me explaining to my professors why I wouldn’t be in class on Monday.
This was the worst holiday I’ve ever experienced. I learned two vital things from this horrible event that I’m happy to share:
1) If you have a small child who is sick with anything at all, stay home instead of going to whatever event you think you need to go to. You don’t need to go that badly.
2) Stomach flu symptoms? Popsicles will save your life.
Let’s take a little pre-Thanksgiving dip. letslipthedogsofwar:
Thanksgiving 2006. The first biggest bar night of the year after turning 21 for me. My best friend and I got started by drinking 7 & 7s at my folks place and were well on our way to obliterated by the time I got to the bar. There we met some guys who graduated high school the year before us and they were buying beers so I got fucking annihilated. Our town bar is across the street from a big lake so we went down to the dock of the lake for some reason at some point. I was blacked out by this point, but from what I can cobble together, dudes said they were going to jump into the lake (late November in MI and fucking freezing) and I was the only one who actually jumped in. They all scattered and I apparently hauled myself out of the water and start walking the three-plus miles back to my parents’ house. At some point I took a knee in a person’s yard and started screaming for some reason. Luckily, a friend from HS saw this on his way home and picked me up. He dropped me off at my parents’ house, where my dad apparently wrestled my wet clothes off and shoved me into bed. I woke up the next morning with THE MOST fucked up hangover ever and a Virgin flip phone that would not stop vibrating after its swim in the drink in the side pocket of my sweet carpenter jeans. My father, bless his heart, didn’t say shit and as my mom rousted us to go to my grandmother’s for Thanksgiving I just told her I’d been going a little too hard the night before. I puked not once but twice on the ride to Grandma’s house. I love Thanksgiving like nobody’s business and I probably had two rolls, some water and some corn for dinner that year. We got home that evening and I went off to bed. My mom was being awesome and came to get my laundry, only then discovering it was completely soaked and putting two-and-two together, she lit into me for nearly dying. Not a night before TG has come and gone since then that she doesn’t remind me about the horrors of drowning, hypothermia, frostbite and alcohol poisoning.
Round of applause for a microwaved turkey attempted by JohnW:
Back when I was a one striper in the Air Force me and a couple of my D&D buddies decided to cook a large turkey, in the community microwave of our barracks. This was back in the early days of microwaves, back when you had to buy a separate browning agent to put on food when you nuked them. (I wonder if they still sell that stuff) needless to say that after bombarding that turkey with enough radiation to create both the Hulk and The Abomination it did not looked cooked. We eventually gave up and ordered a pizza.
You have to turn the thing on for it to work, yvanehtnioj:
First time I ever tried to do the turkey myself I was alone at my mom’s new house, where everyone was supposed to meet for dinner. She had an oven with a pilot light; I had no idea what that meant. Came to with my brother carrying me out of the house to lay on the lawn and my mom doing the same to the dog. Turns out the gas smell isn’t just to let you know the oven is working!
We ordered a pizza.
My second year of law school and third year of cooking Thanksgiving. My dad, who’s a colossal asshole came to visit since my folks were divorced and his GF was with her kids, also there was my fiancé now husband, and my cousin and his gf now wife. So five adults. We drank so much beer and wine that I made like $30 off the returns. While warming the rolls, I started a small fire. My drunk as fuck cousin thought the bottle of cheap AF wine on the counter would help. It didn’t. The fire flared and started the curtains on fire. Luckily, I had a fire extinguisher because I was anal - remember law student. I managed to get the fire out without destroying the turkey. I think we ate dinner. Frankly, I don’t remember much other than the fire.
Oh, this is more recent. A local charity group sent several hundred Hmong families my address as the location where to get their free Thanksgiving dinner instead of the restaurant up the street. That was interesting.
We tried to have family reunions around Thanksgiving time in my family. After the 3rd one we gave up. The family kind of split into two branches from my Grandmother’s generation. She got out of the backwater town she was raised in and ended up with 2 Master degrees and some pretty serious art history and literary criticism writing. The rest were pretty hit-or-miss.
Reunion 1 - At my family’s house. A fistfight broke out in the back-yard over mac-and-cheese and backwoods kids used my private line (I also had a beeper, jealous?) to SOMEHOW call China.
Reunion 2 - My cousin has sex with his date in the bathroom. This is actually an upgrade for him as the last time he brought a girl home to meet his family she died in her sleep of a heart defect.
Reunion 3 - My cousin, in his infinite wisdom, decides to tell us about the sex from the prior year at the dinner table. My grandmother, the matriarch of the family, was not amused.
Competing Thanksgivings. SweetTito:
About eight years ago my wife (who was then my fiance) flew with me to my midwestern home for Thanksgiving. My parents were in a long, protracted process of splitting up and privately would talk about how terrible everything was but if they were in the same room together insisted on everything being fine, just fine, why would you ask, it’s fine.
We land and I text my sister, who says dinner is cancelled, which throws up a red flag because this was supposed to be the “introduce my fiance to the extended family” visit. We get to my parents’ house and my mom shows us the full spread: turkey, mashed potatoes, various casseroles, pies, etc and encourages us to dig in.
Before we can, my dad spins us around and reveals HE has cooked an entire COMPETING dinner, with “cajun spiced” turkey (“because I know you like spicy things”), scalloped potatoes (“you prefer cheesy potatoes, right?”), green beans (“I figured some vegetables would be healthier than a casserole”), and then hands us a plate.
No one else showed up, by the way. My wife and I sat down, ate two different Thanksgiving dinners at the same time, and assured my parents that we loved both meals very much and would keep loving them no matter what happened.
How could you go on like this? Dancin Homer:
5 years ago our family Thanksgiving had shrunk from 10 people to 5, so my parents decided we should go a close friend’s place for dinner. It made sense, no need for my mother to do all that work for so few people.
We arrive and things start off fine. Appetizers, football, friendly chatter, the usual. Then we take our seats and they’re assigned. While this is very annoying, it’s not the real disaster. The real disaster comes when we all go up the buffet they set up to get food. My brother and I are searching high and low, unable to find a key Thanksgiving staple in the mix. Finally we present the issue at hand to our mother, who already knows exactly what we’re going to say.
THERE WERE NO MASHED POTATOES!
What the fuck?! How can you have Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes? I’m not trying to say they’re the most important food for the holiday, but come on!
That’s my worst Thanksgiving disaster... Worse than the year I was so sick I couldn’t even eat dinner.
Oh, I went to a sibling’s in-laws. Mother didn’t believe in Turkey. She made a ham. Because we were there, she relented and provided a plate of cold smoked turkey she had bought at the store. No stuffing or mashed potatoes either. Lasagna and ham, green beans and corn bread. And we had to watch the Dallas Cowboys game, at maximum volume.
Of course, no Thanksgiving would be complete without remembering buttfumble. Deadliftshrimp:
For Thanksgiving every year my family and I would go to Westport, CT to join our extended family. When it comes to football, our family is split up Jets, Giants and the fucking Patriots. Every Thanksgiving we’d put our differences aside to watch the Lions lose and then watch the first half of the Cowboys game before eating. This year was different. The Jets and the Patriots were playing that night at 8 and my cousin (he’s a Pats fan) and I really wanted to watch it. After Thanksgiving my family and I would normally leave and head back to New York. I decided to stay for the night and take the train in the morning so I could watch the Jets-Pats game with my cousin and his family. We all know what happens next. It might just be the biggest fucking regret of my life! Every Jets fan recalls the Buttfumble as probably their lowest moment of being a Jets fan but I can assure you that mine was much worse. Not only did I have to witness it on live television but I had to deal with my asshole Patriot loving relatives rubbing it in my fucking face. I really lost it when my cousin’s dad said to me “I can’t wait to see Rex Ryan’s post-game press conference to see the look on his fat fucking face.” At that point I went upstairs and just waited for the game to end.