O P I N I O N
I can’t speak for your family but, with my own, Thanksgiving has always been the pinnacle of our year.
Most of my family lives in Rhode Island, where I grew up, and with all the pains and banalities of everyday life, I don’t get to see them nearly as much I’d like, and l look forward to spending Thanksgiving each year at my folks’ place in the certified and scientific geographical center of the universe, West Warwick, R.I.
This year, however — while obviously and painfully clear — I won’t see my family. So, instead, I’m going to share our story of the Thanksgiving Day Asshole.
I know. Every family has its idiosyncrasies. Everyone has the strange relative who shows up to dinner with a boa constrictor wound around their neck, or the red-eyed drunken uncle who has been looking for discarded Donald Trump ballots in the streams and dumpsters of Pennsylvania.
But here’s my family’s strange contribution.
Now, I know I sound like an asshole trying to explain The Thanksgiving Day Asshole, but it comes from a place of love. So here’s a euphemism: my family likes to imbibe.
Let me try again.
Here’s my family’s dynamic: My parents and aunts and uncles are Boomers who mostly lean liberal, and their spawn are largely Gen X’ers, meaning we—and our subsequent spouses—are apathetic toward everything.
This proved to be a combustible equation in Rhode Island.
As soon as my cousins and I turned legal drinking age, things became more animated (killing it with the euphemisms). Before and after Thanksgiving dinner, in bibulous bliss (killing it with the alliteration), my family would enjoy libations.
And in our younger and more vulnerable years, sometimes on Thanksgiving someone would over-indulge, and transform into an insufferable drunk—mostly me—earning the inglorious title of “Thanksgiving Day Asshole.”
For years, I was the champion—I was the Niners of the ’80s, the Bulls of the early-90s, the Yankees…
No. I can’t go there.
Then enter The Captain circa 2000.
My cousin Jaime took it upon herself to go ahead and marry the only man on the East Coast who was a sloppier and messier drunk than me, some New Yorker—thank God he’s a Mets and not a Yankee-fan—who reconfigured the face of the Thanksgiving Day Asshole.
For years, The Captain and I battled it out, and my family—I told you we were weird—got behind the competition like it was “Lord of the Flies,” crushing Piggy’s glasses. They would blow on old plastic bugle leftover from a St. Patrick’s Day parade, calling everyone into the kitchen for a round of tequila shots.
We invented games, such as “Throw the Dinner Roll at the Ceiling Fan,” cheering the roll’s projectile. We once tried to levitate my grandfather.
And people other than The Captain and I earned the title of Thanksgiving Day Asshole. One year my cousin’s petite wife shotgunned a glass of wine and needed to be carried out of the house over his shoulder while she screamed, “I don’t want to go home!”
People have collapsed on tables full of desserts. They’ve vociferously sung off-key Christmas songs, put cigarettes out in the kitchen sink. One never seeks to be the Thanksgiving Day Asshole. It’s a calling. And in my family, it finds you.
And the next morning, we’re all awake and ready to celebrate Christmas. I need to remember this year while I’m missing the people I love—all the assholes.
So this year, COVID-19, congratulations, you’re the Thanksgiving Day Asshole.
And, Captain, you got this. Fuck cancer. I love you.