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Filtering by Tag: Holidays

My Thanksgiving Nightmare

Jennifer Ronda

This is my recollection of my Thanksgiving nightmare. Here's how it all went down:


My father-in-law arrives to pick up me and my husband in his "vintage" sky-blue Buick Regal. We crawl into the back seat, then head off for my parents' house where the big Thanksgiving feast will be held. With this huge family gathering before us, my nerves are already piqued. Having my father-in-law drive us to the event does not help one bit in calming my nerves.

First off, this is an old, unreliable car. The kind that stays covered in the garage and is only used on "special occasions" (my father-in-law believes wholeheartedly this car will only increase in value and become a classic). I'm not even certain we'll make it to my parents' house.

Second, my father-in-law never, EVER drives. Any other day of the year, he is escorted around town by his own personal chauffer. I can't even tell you the last time he actually drove a car.

In an attempt to distract myself and keep calm, I strike up a conversation with my father-in-law.

"Hey, you know what I just realized?" I ask. "You've never met my brother. Could you please introduce yourself to him today?" In response to my comment, he turns around to face me, and gives me that big smile of his, where his grin stretches from ear to ear, exposing all his pearly-white teeth. It's the smile that everyone who knows him recognizes. Okay, I'll take that as I yes.

Yep, total mayhem is unleashed. We arrive and there's like a long receiving line of family members to greet us as we walk through the door. (Please let me remember everyone's name.) Food smells meet our noses (should I be nervous that I don't smell turkey yet?). High-pitched shrills of little nieces, nephews, cousins and I'm pretty sure neighborhood kids pierce our ears. I say hi to aunts, uncles, distant relatives, and some folks who I don't even recognize and I'm quite sure are of no relation to us. 

My mom introduces me to the young lady currently renting the downstairs suite of their house. Meeting her in person only solidifies my earlier impressions I had of her. And I don't like her. Not one bit. Getting bad vibes from this one, alright. I'm convinced more than ever that she's only taking advantage of my parent's generosity and is going to rob them for all their worth. 

And this young lady does nothing to help win me over as she takes me on a guided tour of the private suite where she's residing, and points out all the expensive remodeling, newly appointed appliances, and paint projects my parents are funding at her request. Note to self: Must talk to parents about my skepticism of this so-called renter and her intentions. And also need to ensure mom and pop are saving up properly for their retirement.

I head for one of the staircases leading back upstairs, but stop when I hear clanging sounds coming from the garage. I never liked this part of the house and it gives me the creeps. Our garage was built over an old burial ground of some sort. It may or may not be haunted. 

I slowly open the door leading to the garage and meekly call out (so as to not upset any spirits, just in case, you never know), "Anyone in here?" 

"Hello!" replies a man who's laying on the ground, working on some pipes, and appears to be very pale, very white, and covered in what I only hope and pray is dust and plaster, lest he be an apparition or some incorporeal being. "I'm the handyman!" he yells out, before I can let out a scream.

Of course you are, I say to myself. On Thanksgiving Day. Why, oh, why, would my parents have a handyman over on Thanksgiving?!? Things are crazy enough here today, why would they introduce a handyman to the mix? I leave the handyman to work in peace. He's already charging double I'm sure for working on a holiday, so let's not delay him. Again, reminder to talk to my parents about the importance of retirement savings and OH, MY, WORD...

WHY DO I NOT HAVE A GLASS OF WINE IN MY HAND??? This is very unlike me. I've already been here almost AN HOUR, and I still have yet to pour myself a glass of wine.

It also occurs to me that I've blurted this statement out loud, right in front of two aunts, both of whom give me a nasty glare and I'm quite certain begin planning how they can do an intervention before the evening is over. I quickly walk away in search of the wine bar.

Okay, much better now. Big glass of red wine in hand. 

I walk up the semi-circular staircase, past all the kiddies throwing stuffed animals and bouncy-balls over the side of the railings (the house has a big, grand entrance room where the staircase and second landing is open and looks down upon the floor below), when I overhear one of the kids say something about eating FROZEN STEAK today?? Ha-ha-ha! I laugh to myself. Silly kid, it's Turkey Day! Surely, this is not a relative from my side of the family.

Yep, it's that one day of the year when we all sit around and carve the Big Bird. All year long, I patiently wait for this one November day when I feast upon a large gallinaceous bird: Meleagris gallopavo. Preferably one that's been soaking in a homemade brine for at least 6-8 hours prior to roasting. Also, strongly preferable that it's free-range, grass-fed, and has not been bloated with hormones or water.

But that's not what's important here, it's that we're all gathered together, the whole family, thankful for all we.....WAIT!!! Hold ON!!! WTF?! Why is there no aroma of turkey emanating from the kitchen???? (All these preceding thoughts I say to myself; there are little kids standing around me, after all!). 

My mom and mom-in-law are in the kitchen, laughing and talking and stirring bowls of something. My eyes do a quick scan of the counter top, and UGHHHHH! NOOOOOO!!!

There it is. That pale, pink styrofoam packaging that no decent, fresh, sustainably farm-raised meat should ever come in. Cellophane still in tact and tightly wound around the steak. And yep, the steak's frozen solid, with bits of ice crystals clinging to the inside of the cellophane. And no turkey bird in sight. I take a sip of my wine.

And then I see the mixed veggie medley cans. The ones where the carrots are cut into perfectly shaped cubes, the peas are on the edge of being neon green, and the sodium is off the charts. I turn around and make for the exit so as to avoid saying something I'd later regret, when the moms ask me over to look at something. I take another sip of my wine.

What I see: something resembling a baked potato shell, filled with some form of filling that's one-part dark liquid and one-part oily substance. I'm afraid to ask, and I don't have to: They inform me they whipped up my recipe for chocolate lava cakes for dessert. I take a very large sip of my wine. 

Trust me. This is not what my chocolate lava cakes are supposed to look like. But at this point, this is about the last thing wrong with this entire picture.

I'm out on the staircase balcony, looking down at all the stuffed toys on the ground below, when I see something out of the corner of my eye. There, down there by the garage door. Just perfect, stress-level off the charts and now I'm about to experience my first run-in with a dead person who's been buried under our garage floor.

Then I hear it. A faint, ghostly whisper over my shoulder, "Looks like you need more wine."

Of all things I could possibly imagine an ethereal being would say, this was not one of them. Yet, as I look down at my glass, they are completely and absolutely right! The bottom of my wine glass is indeed visible! 

Just to make sure I haven't totally lost it, I yell out, "Did anyone else just hear the ghost?! What did you hear it say?"

One of my relatives responds, "It said, "Looks like you're all having a good time.""

Perhaps to a spirit that ceased to exist who knows how long ago, all this might look like a good time. For me, I decide to go with my interpretation of the spirit's astute observation and head directly for the wine bar.



As the title indicates, this truly was a nightmare/dream I recently had, and does not reflect any actual Thanksgiving event.  The people, places, events, ghosts, etc presented here are fabrications of my unconscious imagination and do not represent anything based in reality. 

Oh, and my father-in-law that I reference in the beginning paragraphs, the one who has a big grin, a chauffer and doesn't ever drive himself?? As what always seems to inexplicably happen in dreams, my father-in-law was President Obama. So you see, I had to edit out some parts, otherwise you would have know from the get-go something was amiss. 

While I have wonderful memories and have spent amazing Thanksgivings with close family, relatives, good friends and neighbors, I'm very much looking forward to a quiet, cozy holiday this year with just my husband, dog, and maybe a stray friend or two. And some wine.