America's Funniest Thanksgiving Disasters

Does the idea of communing with your extended family leave you feeling as limp as a string bean drowned in cream of mushroom soup? Have a laugh at these holiday horrors, and count your blessings!
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Holiday Tales

Charlie Brown. Jodie Foster. The girl from Dawson's Creek. All sorts of stars have made movies about Thanksgivings fraught with familial discord, turkeys gone AWOL, and dancing dogs. Well, only Charlie Brown had the dancing dog -- but you get the point. It's a grand American tradition to greet the harvest season with a huge crop of not-so-good grief. We collected some of our favorite tales of Thanksgiving woe for your turkey-basting pleasure. Read on, and be glad mashed potatoes are the only thing your family fights about!

Appetite Suppressant

"When my daughter, Madison, was about 2 years old, I invited my entire extended family to my home for my first real Thanksgiving dinner. The thing was, I also work full-time as a lawyer, and was pregnant with my second baby on top of it all. I was pretty stressed out. So I woke up at the crack of dawn and was slaving away -- making stuffing, basting, mashing potatoes -- when Madison started vomiting. She started in the kitchen (nowhere near the stuffing), then proceeded to the dining room, then in her bed a few times. This was not helping my morning sickness. My mom, sister, neighbor, and husband pitched in on vomit-cleaning and sheet-changing, so everything was ready on schedule...but frankly, by then, we'd all lost our appetites. The only one who enjoyed that Thanksgiving was my dad, who just sat and watched the game the whole time!" -- Ellen, 37, Philadelphia

Thanks for the Memories

"I was the oldest of the grandchildren in my family, and we kids knew my grandmother was not the greatest cook. But we did have fond, fond memories of this one great cookie she made: the black-and-white kind, frosted with half-vanilla and half-chocolate icing. The grown-ups told us, "You're remembering those wrong. They were absolutely vile." But we insisted they'd been manna from Heaven. Well, just after I graduated college, I had the bright idea of going into Grandma's old recipe files and making the cookies. Which I did. Then I carried them in my lap on the plane to Cleveland, where I opened the box to screams of joy. We all dug in. Took a taste. And screamed again -- in disgust. The grown-ups were right: the cookies were so sickly sweet that only a 6-year-old could love them. And I had ruined everyone's sweet memories of them because I just couldn't let sleeping dogs lie. At least the grown-ups enjoyed themselves -- laughing at our shattered memories. Hmph." -- Marjorie, 35, New York City

First Impressions

"It was time to meet my new boyfriend's family, so we went to his home for Thanksgiving. The woman who would eventually become my mother-in-law piled so much food on my plate, there was no way I could finish it all. I did what I could, then just stared helplessly at the mountain of turkey, stuffing, and canned cranberries. Despite my heroically pushing the food around on my plate, she noticed I wasn't eating and asked what was wrong. "The food is delicious, but I'm full," I admitted, and she promptly removed my plate from the table and put it on the floor for the dog before dinner was over. What a fantastic first impression -- for both of us!" -- Betsy, 39, Maplewood, New Jersey

Giving Thanks

"One November, my brother and I went to Florida to see our father and extended family. On Thanksgiving Day, my grandmother started cooking at 8 a.m. and knocking back the scotches at 10 a.m. -- because she was 'working.' Dinner was at 4 p.m. We gathered at the table, all 19 of us, tons of delicious food ready for our consumption. My dad, who is the principal of a parochial school, had us bow our heads and said a very moving prayer about gratitude and family, and brought tears to everyone's eyes at the 'amen.' We sat in loving silence for a moment, each reflecting on the heartfelt words, and my grandmother announced (boozily), 'You all better eat my goddamned turnips!'" -- Laura, 36, New York City

Not a Martha Moment

"My sweetie and I were hosting our first Thanksgiving. Everyone was coming: my parents, our friends, even a few neighbors. To mark the occasion, we went out the week before and bought a Le Creuset baking pan, in cheerful cherry red. We ceremoniously put the turkey in the oven and were busy preparing the rest of the meal when we heard a resounding crack. Our spanking-new, $125 pan had split down the middle, leaving the turkey forlornly resting on the oven rack. We had to run out, find an open grocery store, and put our turkey on a cheap aluminum pan -- not the effect we'd been going for. Le Creuset replaced the red pan, but couldn't fix our red faces!" -- Karen, 27, Brooklyn, New York

Brand-New You?

"I had just started dating a new guy. It was going well, so I invited him over to the Thanksgiving shindig I was hosting at my place. Since the summer I'd been shedding pounds over the past few months from the combination of being broke and brokenhearted (over a different guy). As a result, I hadn't been so social and hadn't seen a lot of friends for a while. The new boy shows up, and then suddenly so does a crush of people. Friends are greeting me immediately, before bothering to introduce themselves to him. Consequently, he hears the following: 'Oh my God what happened to you? You lost so much weight!' 'Jesus, where did the rest of you go?' and, my personal favorite: 'Wow, are you on the Zone again?' (the 'again' was the kicker). To every question I answered sweetly 'meet my date, Michael' and everyone clammed up. He turned to me after and said, 'My God, what did you used to look like?' Nice." -- Rachel, 30, Phoenix

Oops, I Said It Again

"We were at my very buttoned-up aunt and uncle's house. They set up their Thanksgiving table buffet-style. My dad and I were standing next to it, trying to make stilted conversation (we really don't have much in common with them). My uncle said, 'I guess we're supposed to go in a circle.' And I said, 'Yes, and then we can all do a circle dance.' Only I did not say the word 'dance.' Lord help me, for some unknown reason, the word I said was 'jerk.' It was like I had a sudden attack of Tourette's syndrome and literally we all just sort of stared at the space where my words had flown out of my mouth. Finally, my uncle proceeded to start loading up his plate without comment, as my dad stared straight ahead, unsure whether to laugh or beat me to a quivering pulp. At this point, we laugh, but I think it was touch-and-go there for a while." -- Liz, 42, Los Angeles

Take-Out Thanksgiving

"My Thanksgiving story isn't exactly a disaster. It's more of a mystery. My sister and I took the bus home for the holiday, and we arrived a little early. We were sitting in front of the mall near our home, waiting for our dad to pick us up, when lo and behold, across the street, we see our aunt and uncle's car parked in front of a pizzeria. Then, from the pizzeria, we see my aunt, uncle, and two cousins. Carrying a pizza. Running to their car. Unsure what to do, we just sat there, slack-jawed, as they drove away. Dad picked us up, we went home, and 10 minutes later, they drove up, cheerful as you please. They didn't eat any appetizers, but seemed to fill up on a normal amount of dinner...did they hate our food? Did they not like to eat with us? What was their deal? We've never had the nerve to ask." -- Emily, 31, San Francisco

Recipe for Success

"Thanksgiving horror stories? I have none. My turkeys always turn out perfectly. I find the key to family holiday success is buying as much wine as you think you need, and then doubling it." -- Ann, 36, Miami, Ohio


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