I saw a thread on social media yesterday that had me crying in laughter, followed by a panic attack, because this stuff happens.

“Four words that ruin a Thanksgiving dinner: Go!”

“This toilet won’t flush!”

“Who’s got bail money?”

“So ... who’s the father?”

“This bird’s frozen solid.”

“There’s no more booze!”

“Mommy, this tastes … funny.”

“Yup! That’s a cockroach!”

“Which hospital is closest!?”

“Uncle Ed … is here …”

It reminded me of the many Thanksgivings our family has spent together because we got tired of only seeing each other at weddings and funerals. So we turned turkey day into family reunion day. One person hosts the gala and everyone shows up; if you can’t make it this year, we’ll see you next.

The first year was quite the extravaganza. We had relatives and step-relatives and in-law relatives and a few people we weren’t sure were even part of the family arrive from all over the globe. When else will your second-cousin from Perth, Australia, get to meet your sister’s father-in-law from Philadelphia?

It was great! Well, until my oldest cousin had a trifle “too much.” There’s always one. And my half-brother started talking politics. A brouhaha started in the kitchen about religion. And you can always depend on our mother to get in and really stir the pot.

Like many others, we’ve got our holiday horror stories.

The first year, an aunt got a bit “enthused” about family history; she brought notebooks and photos, coffee mugs and coasters, calendars and T-shirts: “Got Rees?” I still don’t get it.

My uncle showed up from New York City for his token 12.7 minutes. He shook hands all around, grabbed a few cups of spiked eggnog, watched everyone from the sidelines and — VING! Where’d Bob go?!

Then the party got going. I got into an argument with Cousin Timmy about the racket insurance is. I thought he’d agree, like a normal human being, but it ends up he’s “in the industry.”

My dad learned step-sister Elizabeth planned to bestow the family name — Rees — on her baby girl; he rewrote his will, right then, right there on the dining room table.

At some point, I went around the corner into the kitchen and bumped into my Cousin Jeff, the one with his lips on the wine jug, who was caressing my step-mother’s face and cooing about her cooking! My sweet step-mother didn’t have a clue; she modestly and profusely thanked him as he pawed away.

“OMG!” I screeched. “My cousin is hitting on my step-mother!”

While everyone came running in to stop it/watch/film, the dog jumped on the table and started gobbling down the gobbler.

Warning: Cranberry pawprints can not be removed from fine linen.

Another year, at my sister’s house, I volunteered for KP. There’s a trick to it: some people wash their good silver in the dishwasher, others have it sent out to the smithy for a proper polish. China gets this treatment, crystal gets that.

My sister soon realized I could properly handle her expensive table settings — until I went to clean a particularly encrusted pot. I did what any normal person would do and poured what was in it down the drain. Ewww.

“JANIE!” my step-mother screamed. “MY GRAVY!”

I looked down the sink hole. Gravy?

“JANIE!” my sister screamed. “MY NEW PIPES!”


My brother-in-law wordlessly walked by my sister, who dropped the keys in his outstretched hand; he led me by the elbow to the car, to the store.

The next year, the festivities were at my father’s house in San Diego.

Everything was all going dandy until we went into the dining room to eat. There was an … odor. A not-so-good odor. A smell like, well, the back end of the dog. And in all our shuffling around on the Oriental carpet to locate the source, a few people had … spread the odor around. We ate on the patio that year.

This year’s festivities will be over by the time this goes to press, and if anyone “outperforms” someone else at this year’s family reunion, you’ll hear about it!

It could get weird. In four words? Uncle Ed is coming.

And “Thirty days until Christmas!”

That ought to rile up the masses.