Family / Memories

Turkeys and Jail Birds

Last week I mentioned I would soon share a dysfunctional family memory. Thanksgiving is one week from today. You know, the day when we typically fall into two or three categories of fellowship. One – we gather with friends or loved ones and celebrate our blessings. Or two – we suck it up and tell ourselves we can tolerate spending the day with our relatives once or twice a year… and we hope there will be booze. Or maybe three – we tell them to suck it and we hide out at home and find the nearest restaurant willing to make its workers come in on Thanksgiving Day. Booze guaranteed.

I think I usually fell into a combination of the three – gathering with loved ones I was willing to tolerate for a day, wishing I had stayed home and eaten at a restaurant. And it was a shame I didn’t drink back then.

One Thanksgiving Day stands out in particular. I was in college and home for break. The men spent the morning in the woods trying to slaughter Bambi, then came home and rested in front of the ballgame, while the women prepared their feast… ‘cause we lived in a cave and brushed our hair with bones.


I remember standing in the kitchen with my sister, Shelley, as the phone started ringing. The extended kinfolk were calling and wanted to know if we had food. We did. Then, they wanted to know if we had transportation. ‘Cause it probably wasn’t a good idea to drive on a holiday without a license. Damn you, DUIs. Perhaps the cousins could drive their daddy over in a legal manner? What? Their licenses were revoked too? The Thanksgiving plot thickened! Someone already there with us quickly eliminated themselves as a chauffeur due to a lack of aforementioned license as well.

Finally, in the smartass tone that my family helped fine tune, I asked, “Okay, if you have a driver’s license, raise your hand?” I thought it would speed up the process of our holiday confessions.

Shelley and I decided we’d make the most of the dysfunction and quickly started compiling a list of door prizes we’d give away that day. You know, things like: longest time driving with a revoked license; most DUIs; longest evasion from the law; most incarcerations… the good stuff.

In all honesty, I remember that Thanksgiving more than any other. I would be sad about that if I had no sense of humor. The truth is, few of us have those Martha Stewart envisioned holidays. Some of us are lucky enough to spend the holidays with people we love and truly enjoy being with. Some of us wake up that morning filled with dread, praying it’s not as painful as we expect. And some of us make margaritas out of limes. Or lemonade out of lemons. Whatever.

The point is… it’s Thanksgiving. Don’t just give thanks… give a ride to someone in need. If you live in Mississippi, I can hook you up.


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