In the Zone: Thanksgiving Turkey Tales Starring … Your Family!

Let’s be honest: Thanksgiving dinner isn’t just a time for the family to get together and be thankful; it also provides some of the best entertainment you’ll see for the next 12 months. I know this to be true because my friends and family members supply me with new stories every, single year. With Thanksgiving just days away, I’m going to break down the cast of characters everyone will recognize because you probably have some of the same ones sitting around yourdinner table. All names are removed to protect the guilty from embarrassment, of course. 

The Questionable Cook 
We’ve all been there: someone invites your family over for Thanksgiving and the thought of someone else doing all of the cooking is the best thing ever because food always tastes better when someone else is making it. But when it comes time to eat, the quality isn’t quite what you expected. One year, I remember my mom, who was in town for Thanksgiving, and I were invited to dinner with friends. One of the first things I noticed on the table were these buttery, golden-brown dinner rolls my friend had made that were calling my name. I was fully prepared to bite into the fluffiest, most delicious piece of bread I’d ever tasted, and so once the prayer was over, Mom and I went straight for the rolls. All was looking good until I saw my mom try to break off a piece of her roll, and then a perplexed look came over her face. She then reached for her knife, but not to cut the turkey as one would expect—oh no, she was trying to cut the dinner roll. Those delicious-looking rolls were as hard as rocks. We later found out that the host had taken the rolls straight out of the freezer and put them in the oven without thawing them first. It’s a story we all still laugh about to this day.

The Family Preacher
Whether you’re going around the table saying what you’re thankful for or saying the prayer before the big meal, there’s always that one family member who doesn’t know when to wrap it up—and you can’t interrupt someone when they’re having a heartfelt moment talking to the Lord! I had a family member who had a moment like this I’ll never forget: He started in on the prayer and was really feeling it that year, but things quickly took a turn. He kept diving deeper and deeper into prayer until we all started to notice the loud rumbles coming from everyone else’s stomachs more than his words. Why were we so hungry you ask? Because the prayer had reached an hour! After the first 30 minutes, we were starving, we couldn’t interrupt him because he was barely taking breaths between sentences. Finally, my cousin was strong enough to step in and put an end to the thing so we could finally enjoy the meal. The meal needed to be reheated but it was worth the wait.

The Lush
Sometimes the family member that drinks a little too much is the life of the party (I mean who doesn’t want to see their aunt twerking up on the coffee table?), but then there’s also the family member who drinks a little too much and makes a scene out of recounting every awkward story of family drama. And really, what holiday isn’t complete without one (or five) uncomfortable family moments?

The Stage 5 Clinger
You know this one: that relative who just doesn’t know when it’s time to leave. You’ve dropped all the hints that it’s time to go: You’ve yawned (even when you didn’t have to), you’ve handed him his coat (which he keeps putting back down), you keep asking if he needs an Uber (and you’re even willing to use your account), and when all that fails, you just go to bed and hope that if he’s still there in the morning, he better have breakfast on the table when you wake up.

The Sleeper
Okay, I get it and I’ve been there before: Food comas are a real thing! It’s actual science that the nutrient called tryptophan in turkey makes us a little sleepy, and slipping in a quick catnap while the football game is on is cool (and understandable) for a professional cat-napper like myself. However, it’s when someone decides to spread out on the couch with no regard for others and snort, snore, and drool all over my decorative pillows for the next two hours that things get a little out of control. Not, cool man—not cool!

The Early Bird
It’s nearly impossible to time everything perfectly on Thanksgiving. Getting the house cleaned up, the table set, the timing right for all the food to be done at once, and getting yourself pulled together can be super chaotic. So if you’re one of those people who likes to show up 20 minutes early, you’ll be waiting outside because I’m probably in the shower and won’t hear the doorbell. My old coach, Tom Coughlin’s, rule that if you’re not five mines early, you’re already late does not apply for Thanksgiving dinner; 3 p.m. means 3 p.m. … or even 3:15 p.m. but not one minute before!

Oh, I could go on forever about these types: What about the person who brings a bottle of wine and takes it home if it isn’t opened? Or the aunt who brings food everyone knows is inedible (but we all have to take a little to be polite)? Or the guest packing up a to-go plate before dinner is even served? They’ll probably be at a table near you, too, this Thanksgiving, so we want to hear from you, too: Post a picture of your friend or family member “in the act” and tell us the story behind it and add the hashtags #TurkeyTales and #RaiseYourGame. And have a Happy Thanksgiving from all of us to all of you!