With My Family, A War Breaks Out Every Thanksgiving


So this year it’s going to be the stuffing, suddenly a bone of contention upon which thousands of words will be exchanged. I say “will be” because, even though you are reading this after Thanksgiving, I’m writing it before. If I survive the holiday, I will fill you in on the actualities at a later date.

I don’t know about your family, but in mine, there’s always “something.” Every year, “something” comes up over Thanksgiving — a topic to be introduced into conversation with innocent, downcast eyes, which inevitably escalates into an argument, and is then beaten into the ground as the day progresses.

One year, it was a board game gone wrong. Any game that depends upon the goodwill of the participants to judge the correctness or incorrectness of an answer is going to be trouble with us Welkys. Each one of us will fight to the death to defend the undeniable fact that we are right. Unfortunately, five or six conflicting “rights” do make a “wrong.” (Is a Swiss army knife a pocket knife? What if it’s too big to fit in your pocket? Winning the game depended upon this! No one was giving an inch! End result: name-calling and hurt feelings. “You’re petty!” “You’re pouty!”)

You’d think that Google would now settle this kind of thing, but we don’t trust Google. Why? Because we’re Welkys, and we consider ourselves far superior to Google, a search engine dependent on the paltry sum of 1.2 million terabytes (1,000 gigabytes times 1.2 million) of knowledge.

Another year, it was my father choking on a piece of chocolate. Who gave him the chocolate? Shouldn’t they have brought him a glass of water with chocolate that dark? Was it really necessary that my husband Mark administer the Heimlich maneuver? Was one of dad’s ribs snapped in the process? Why was he allowed to spit out chocolate on the white living room carpet?

“And, Debbie,” dad said. “Don’t think I didn’t notice you running over with a towel to protect the carpet while I was choking to death.”

“But, Dad, Mark was already saving your life,” I countered.

“Don’t give me that.”

Sigh. This year, it is going to be the stuffing. Mom insists that dad wants her stuffing recipe on Thanksgiving and will accept no other, but my brother David is bringing the bird. “So, it will obviously be stuffed with my stuffing,” he said.

“Wow,” I told my sister Pam. “I’m going to stay out of this stuffing mess.”

“Me, too,” she said but, two minutes after she hung up the phone, she texted me a list of who was bringing what, and it clearly read, “Mom… stuffing.”

Pam feels our family is dysfunctional. I told her I wouldn’t have it any other way, since normal is boring. But why stir the pot? Mom and David live a mile apart now. I’m sure they’ll work it out. Or not. Either way, the Thanksgiving stage is set.

Thank goodness I’m bringing the pies, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce — and no chocolates.