20 November 2018

Putting the Happy in Happy Thanksgiving

It's two days until Thanksgiving, and I bet some of you are stressed. Maybe it's because you're cooking and ... it's the first time you're hosting, and you want it to be perfect. Or your mother-in-law is coming, and your turkey never lives up to hers. Or the weatherman is predicting snow on Thanksgiving and you're afraid that your relatives won't show up ... or maybe that they will.
Or maybe your stress stems from being a guest. Are you an introvert, dreading a day of small talk with the extended family? A picky eater, going to the home of a gourmet who makes food way to fancy for your tastes? Or are you a dieter, going to the home of someone who likes to push food and you're likely to spend the day going, "no thanks, no rolls for me," "no thanks, no candied yams for me," "no thanks, no cookies for me," ... "dear lord, lady, what part of no thanks don't you get?"

No matter who you are, or what your situation, Thanksgiving can cause stress. The best way to deal with stress is laughter. And that's where I come in. So set down that baster and get ready to smile, because I've got some fictional characters who've had a worse Thanksgiving than you.

Paul and Jamie Buchman from Mad About You

They tried so hard to make the perfect dinner ... only to have their dog, Murray, eat the turkey.

Rachel Green from Friends

All she wanted was to cook a nice dessert for her friends ... only to learn too late that she wasn't supposed to put beef in the trifle. It did not taste good.

The Gang from Cheers 

Those poor Thanksgiving orphans. They waited hours for a turkey that just wouldn't cook ... only to then suffer the indignity of being involved in a food fight. (For anyone who's ever read my story "Biscuits, Carats, and Gravy," this Cheers episode was the inspiration.)

Debra Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond

She was determined to have a happy Thanksgiving despite her overly critical mother-in-law ... only to drop her uncooked turkey on the floor three times before flinging it into the oven. Yum.

Arthur Carlson from WKRP in Cincinnati

He wanted to create the greatest promotion ever, inviting the public to a shopping mall and providing free turkeys ... live ones ... only to learn too late that turkeys don't fly so when you toss them out of a helicopter from 2,000 feet in the air they hit the ground like sacks of wet cement.

Garner Duffy from "Bug Appétit"

All this con man wanted for Thanksgiving was to eat some good food at his mark's home before stealing her jewelry ... only to learn too late that her mother is an ... inventive cook. ("Bug Appétit" is my story in the current (November/December) issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. I'm so pleased to have heard from several readers who enjoyed it, including one who called it "hilarious.")

So, dear readers, I hope you're smiling and feeling less stressed. If you'd like to read my story, you could pick up a copy of the current EQMM, available in some Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million bookstores, as well as in an electronic version. You can find more information about getting the magazine here. The issue also has a story from SleuthSayer alum David Dean that I'm sure you'll enjoy.) As to the TV episodes mentioned above, I bet you can find them all online.

Until next time, please share your favorite funny turkey day story (fictional or real) in the comments. Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. I read that Gordon Jump (a devoutly religious man) felt that Arthur Carlson would only invoke the name of God if it was something he sincerely believed. Thus, he changed the original to "As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly." Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Thanks for all the fun Thanksgiving memories! That episode of "WKRP" still makes me laugh.

  3. I usually go all-out on Thanksgiving, but this year, as you know,. is a more than a little different for me. I had planned on cutting back , but now find that I need to do even less. Son#1 the GF and Grandson will not be coming into town (and stay for days), so it will be little and very quiet, which is probably a good thing.
    Good luck!
    I love the stories of yours that I have read so far.
    Happy Thanksgiving, Barb

  4. Happy Thanksgiving- I trust the inventive cuisine in your EQMM story is strictly theoretical at your house!

  5. Can't wait to read that story of yours, Barb! Sounds like my kind of wacky. My most memorable Thanksgiving was when my mom took the turkey out of the oven and dropped it on the floor, and the dog took off with it. We now have a 'only one glass of vino before dinner' rule for the cook.

  6. WKRP is still my favorite Thanksgiving episode.
    My own tale is the time I bought a "fresh turkey poult" to serve. I kept it refrigerated, but when I ripped into the plastic covering, I quickly realized that fresh = rotten. And I lived in a small town at the time with nothing open on Thanksgiving Day. After a certain amount of noise and drinking, I threw a frozen leg of lamb (I'm Greek, I keep a lot of lamb in the freezer) in the oven, postponed dinner for a couple of hours. When the stores were back open, I took my "fresh turkey poult" back and proceeded to open the packaging, at which point they raced to give me my money back and get me out of there.

  7. Happy Thanksgiving, Barb & everybody! I can't wait to read your Thanksgiving story.

    I grew up in the D.C. suburbs & my mother said every year that she was not going to cook on Thanksgiving or Xmas. We didn't have a car & we would all pile on the bus to the National Gallery downtown, which had a very good cafeteria. Afterwards we walked a couple of blocks to the department stores to look at their Xmas windows.

  8. Sense of humor is the most important ingredient for the day. Hugs <3

  9. Actually, turkeys do fly for very short distances. I've seen it because when I was feeding the birds, a female wild turkey found out about it & flew over the fence into our back yard! The other birds didn't have a problem with her being there, eating "their" food.

  10. Thanks for the laughs and congrats on your EQMM story, Barb. Another amusing Thanksgiving TV romp is an episode of “Frasier” in which the characters attempt to land their young son a spot at a prestigious school while all involved also try to prepare Thanksgiving dinner: one comical calamity after another.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  11. Thanks, everyone, for stopping by. Glad I could make you smile.

    Janice, the inventive cuisine is definitely strictly theoretical at my house. Shiver.

    Mel, is that true about the turkey and the dog? That is priceless. Did you all let the dog eat the whole turkey?

    Eve, blech. (Even worse blech than the inventive cooking in my story.)

    Mel and Elizabeth, I hope you enjoy my story!

    Elizabeth, that's a nice memory of going to look at department store windows. My dad used to take me to look at Christmas lights, which (I learned after he died) is something he did with his family when he was a kid.

    Peter, thanks for letting me know about the Frasier episode. I don't remember it. I'll have to try to find it.

    And happy Thanksgiving to you all!


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