Thursday, November 22, 2018


i am a teenage girl and i can admit that i'm a little spoiled. my mother delivers breakfast in bed to me daily. my dad eats a burger for dinner, but mom cooks a ribeye steak with a loaded baked potato for me. i don’t know how to cook, but to teach me responsibility this year my dad says i have to cook a complete thanksgiving dinner with no help! i'm freaking out. i have my phone, but do you have any helpful ideas?

do you ever sit back and wonder what your life could have been like if the people in it actually cared about you? do you ever get choked up thinking about how great you could have been, the potential you could have had, the heights to which you could have soared, if your parents were the kind of people who really and truly loved you? what kind of job would you have right now if your mom just, i don't know, vacuumed around your lounging body on saturday mornings instead of turning up the gospel station and handing you a mop? what astounding feats could you have achieved if only you hadn't been forced to make your own sandwiches and clip your own toenails? what would your GPA have been if you'd never had to race home after school to vacuum and pull the chicken out of the freezer before your mom got home, or exposed yourself to early-onset copd inhaling comet particles while scrubbing the bathtub on your hands and knees while the rest of your carefree friends? imagine the glass ceilings you could have shattered if you'd been waited on hand and foot instead of washing your own dishes and raking the goddamned yard? do you ever see a kid calling his mom a bitch in the middle of starbucks and think about how awful your childhood was because you never got to do that? cried bitter tears for all the times you never got to tell your dad to "shut up, god" while keeping all your teeth in your head? what if this was your life?! man, must be nice.

last year for thanksgiving, i made a special effort to get the entire family together for the traditional meal. all 13 of us met at my mother’s home and everyone was to bring a dish or two to share. one of my brothers has two college-age daughters. both are vegan, and he insisted that all the dishes we brought be vegan! i did it, but i resented it because i felt that two out of 13 people should not decide the menu. my brother and nieces are now asking what we’re doing this year for thanksgiving. frankly, I don’t want to 
go through that again. am i wrong in thinking everyone should not bend over backward for the vegan meal? i don’t mind some of the menu accommodating them, but i don’t think the whole dinner should be altered.

what i will never understand about people like this is this: if you're going to be an asshole, why not just go full asshole and say what you mean, scorch the earth completely, then go on about your life and do your own fucking thing? i was raised by wolves, so forgive me for not fully understanding the traditional american family value of passive aggression, but if you don't want to eat tofurkey or lentil loaf or whatever why not just be like "i'm sitting this one out, brian" and GO EAT YOUR FUCKING HAM. you're a bloodthirsty carnivore who wants to sink her teeth into a baby cow's thigh to give thanks for life's abundance and that's cool man but what isn't is pretending to be a sensitive person who cares about their family's needs then punishing all the normal people at the table with your resentful bullshit. everybody has that one jerkoff friend who gets mad about something dumb but doesn't leave the bar then just sits there poisoning the air around her as everyone tries to drink themselves to death in response, that whiny brat who doesn't want to talk to anyone due to some perceived slight and instead of getting up to go fuck herself she instead chooses to stay at the party and make everyone else uncomfortable. you know who that is in my circle? no one, because i killed that bitch and ate her. and everyone else lived happily ever after. because i'm not vegan but i'd be respectful if my niece was, and i would shut the fuck up and drink my oat milk and eat my boiled salad in peace before leaving the table to "run an errand" also known as "cry into a ten piece nuggets in the mcdonald's parking lot before going home to eat one square of bitter ass dark chocolate for dessert."

my mother-in-law tends to embrace every pitiful creature she comes into contact with. this thanksgiving she has invited my ex-boyfriend and his wife to her home to share in the festivities. i told her i don’t feel comfortable with the situation, because he sucks. they both told me i am “overreacting” and that he was a part of my past and i should have emotionally moved on. i feel the family i love has betrayed me. the idea of my ex being involved in what should be a comfortable family day has me afraid and uneasy. am i overreacting? or is my husband’s mother being unreasonable?

wait wait wait, WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT HERE. is your husband's mom for real? how does she know him? how did she find him? who told her his name? how did she know how to get a hold of him? why did he say yes? why did he even answer the phone? why doesn't he already have holiday plans? did his family die? is his wife's family dead? does he know your mother in law from a past life? was she his chemistry teacher? an intramural soccer coach? is your ex-boyfriend her other fucking son?! 

i used to not fully understand what people meant when they talked about about hypothetical boundaries, because i would rather be buried alive than impose on anyone or piss someone off who won't immediately dismiss themselves from my life, but this is a textbook example of overstepping one's bounds. this is crossing the brightest red line and is also literally shocking? i have a mother-in-law, and i don't think she could even name any of my exes and i wrote two motherfucking books about them. what is this? who does this? do you live in a soap opera? what is this thing people have with making their holidays the most awkward and horrible time imaginable? even if everyone else is totally cool with it, and how could they be cool with it this is a fucking bananas situation, you mean to tell me no one is going to notice or be affected by the burning hatred radiating from your end of the table? i don't wanna eat my green bean casserole with someone glaring at me! all these people are gonna just pass the gravy and push dressing around on their plates while you are apoplectic at the kids' table? THIS IS THE MOST UNREASONABLE SHIT I'VE EVER HEARD. obviously these people are sadists hell bent on destroying you and rather than shredding the brussels sprouts this year maybe you should call a divorce lawyer because this is an untenable situation to say the least. otherwise, two words: cage match.

how do you politely tell your thanksgiving host that you have dietary restrictions?

a good host will ask when they extend the invitation. a good guest will understand that if that list contains more than a handful of things that maybe they should stay home with a bag of rice and a glass of tap water and not stress out a nice person who was just trying to invite your sad gassy ass to dinner. i have a dreaded irritable bowel disease that makes being a fun, carefree, spontaneous person an impossibility. thanksgiving is a particularly dreadful conundrum for myself and the similarly afflicted (my new band name) because not only does it involve copious amounts of irresistible hard to process foods meant to be consumed in front of a large number of people who don't understand why you keep declining the corn, but the meal often begins at 930 in the morning and continues through somewhere around january 21st. nothing stresses me out more than being held hostage all day in a place i'm not sure i can comfortably take a shit. and i don't mean "ugh the bathroom is small," i mean "ugh the bathroom is small and it's located smack in the middle of a high-traffic hallway between the kitchen and the dining room and the walls are thin and there's no lock on the door and this loud ass toddler won't stop telling anyone who will listen that it smells like poop." people always want you to show up at dawn for a meal they're going to serve at 5 in the evening, which they won't come out and tell you because they know that you'll show up at 4:58. and it might be okay to take a chance on the casserole if you thought you'd be back in the safety of your car by 6:30, but nooooooo they gotta pull out a deck of cards between the salad and the turkey, make you win an hourlong flag football game in the yard before coughing up the rolls, then insist upon a three mile hike between dinner and dessert. i'm not taking my intestinal scar tissue on a brisk walk while a bunch of collard greens tries to squeeze through it! so do what i do and be brutally honest. people who love you, or even just like you, don't want you to be in distress and/or destroy their bathrooms, and they really don't want to watch the football game next to you in the emergency room. just say listen _______ i can't just commit an entire day to you and the mashed potatoes you put cream cheese in. you either gotta do a broth course with an applesauce chaser or i gotta stay the fuck home.

we’ve had thanksgiving with the same family for 10+ years now, but we would really like to do it just with our nuclear family this year—and for the years to come. how do we break up with the other family?

you know the wild thing about this is that they probably fucking hate you, too. they're probably sitting home RIGHT NOW groaning over where to put your ungrateful asses in the seating chart this year and sighing at all your peanut and gluten sensitivities they have to consider while making the grocery list. no one ever wants to do anything, especially if it requires a lot of work, especially especially if it requires coordinating with a whole ass other family. my absolute favorite pastime is "the other person cancelled the plans." every time i schedule a thing i immediately wish i hadn't, then i anxiously wait for the other person to text me that their dog is sick or their complicated skincare routine is more important or they got locked out of their car or their mom needs them to install an air conditioner or they have strep throat or they got robbed or their boss literally chained them to the desk at work or they're afraid of melting in the rain or every restaurant in town is closed or they just got dumped or the challenge finale is on or they dropped their phone in the toilet or they have to go to the emergency dentist or they took their bra off and don't want to move now or there's a new lacroix flavor they have to try or there's a small wonder marathon on or the romaine lettuce recall is really bumming them out or they need to look at every post on their crush's instagram going back four years or their cat is sick or they fell off a ladder and have to go to the hospital or they just want to eat a bag of candy corn for dinner or they died literally any excuse is fine as long as i don't have to leave my fucking home. and we don't attempt to raincheck for at least four months.

so give that long-suffering family the only thing anyone truly wants: the gift of your absence. via text. because no one likes talking on the phone.

if i receive a bottle of wine as a gift from a dinner guest and it is not appropriate for the meal, must i serve it? or is it okay not to open it at all?

IMAGINE KNOWING THIS. i'm not even being snarky, i am genuinely mystified by the idea that a person can look at a bottle of wine and know that it isn't going to go with the food in the oven. more than that, i can't imagine eating a bite of food then spitting out the wine it was served with because they don't match. what is this skill, good breeding? did you learn this in finishing school? is this what rich people teach their kids instead of empathy and good manners?! the most sophisticated pairing in my life is lukewarm sprite and doritos, please laugh in my face if i ever turn my nose up at a white wine served with a meaty pasta. if i do turn down wine it'll be because i have the palate of a five year old who only drinks juice. also, this taps into my very deep anxieties about being an uncultured guest in a civilized person's home. i'm always in the discount aisle at the wine store like "will these people know i am stupid and poor?" and now i know THE ANSWER IS YES. so from the perspective of an idiot who brought a bottle of walgreens wine to a sommelier's house i would say to graciously accept it then immediately put it away, right next to that bottle of seagram's i brought last time.

i’m normally a thanksgiving orphan. so i need tips on visiting friends’ homes. what should i bring as a hostess gift? should i offer to make something? also, what do i do if family drama erupts at the table? what are some polite ways to not engage in awkward or controversial conversation?

hello from the equally bereaved! i've been crashing other people's thanksgiving dinners since high school, and man it's a good gig. first of all, you get to be the glamorous outsider who doesn't have any horrible history with any of the gross uncles and estranged children crammed awkwardly around the table. no one is going to bring up that one terrible thing you did in 1987, no one is going to ask why you're fat now or if your job still sucks or when your boyfriend is getting out of prison. they haven't heard about any of the drugs you used to take or remember the time you got stood up at the altar or that honestly you don't really know where syria is? you get to just breeze in wearing clothes they have no idea you've worn for the past three days still smelling like that one girl you promised you'd stop hooking up with a year ago. you'll provide a welcome distraction from all the shit they hate about each other, and you can lie about being allergic to whatever they're serving that you don't want to eat and no one can pull out your childhood medical records and bust you. you can regale a rapt, wide-eyed audience with fantastical stories they won't know aren't the least bit true, and you can steer any potential awkwardness whatever way you choose because guess what: they aren't your family so you never have to see them ever again. and if they fight? relish in it! other people's fights are like in-person tv! but don't you dare make anything, because it will be 1 better or 2 worse than the shit they cooked and you don't need either of those headaches. bring the host some flowers or something useful like a couple xanax. just make sure you don't bring shitty wine that doesn't go with the ham salad, you plebe.

this year i am anticipating a dinnertime discussion similar to that of thanksgiving a couple years ago (right after the last presidential election) and am already dreading it. differing political views back then led to a heated argument, and i can only imagine what might pop up this time around. how do i politely suggest that everyone please pass on the politics?

haha wow that's weird i'm starting every conversation i have for the rest of my life with "who did you vote for in 2016?" and depending on your answer you can get out of my fucking house or we can fucking fight and then you can get out of my fucking house.

how do you deal with hosting family members for thanksgiving who aren’t on speaking terms?

finally something i'm actually an expert in! the homeostasis of the cooper-irby sisterhood is "maybe i'll text you on your birthday" at best, so suffering through a holiday meal or retirement party or ribbon-cutting ceremony where one or all of us is pretending another is dead is par for the fucking course. it's not even awkward anymore. i haven't spoken to one of my sisters in two years and it's great. we didn't really even have a fight; she got mad at me, i blocked her from my phone, everything has been great ever since. for her too, i'm sure, but i'll never actually know because i don't talk to that bitch anymore! i'm a big believer in doing a thorough cost-benefit analysis of the relationships in your life, and if the ratio is off you gotta cut the dead weight loose. that is the realest self-care. anyway here's how it would go down if we accidentally found ourselves in the same room as a turkey on the fourth thursday of november: i would 1 turn and leave because i'd rather be home nursing a chicken pot pie in front of an svu marathon anyway or 2 talk to her, because even if i couldn't think of anything nice to say to that unrelenting asshole i could at least grumble "hi remember how we have the same mom?" and then plop some cranberry sauce on my plate and go back to not speaking to her. so let them do that.

what's the quintessential dish for your thanksgiving dinner?

i don't care about anything but the yams. i made a pan of macaroni and cheese and a homemade dressing (even though i would happily eat the kind from a box) and i risked my precious digits slicing onions on a mandolin that we breaded and fried because my wife won't put the perfectly acceptable ones from a can atop the green bean casserole, but who cares about any of that if there aren't any candied yams on the menu? we outsourced the turkey because nothing is more boring than cooking a disgusting dry bird, we could either have pie or not, and 
here's how you make candied yams the right way, ie the way i made them last night:
1 buy four pounds of decently-sized, good looking sweet potatoes.
2 peel them (i use a paring knife because they have too many grooves and crevices for a peeler), then preheat the oven to 375.
3 chop off the ends and cut them into manageable chunks.
4 it might just be superstitious and unnecessary to rinse them under some hot water but do it anyway.
5 butter a 9 x 13 casserole dish and toss the potatoes in.
6 in a saucepan melt: 2/3 c brown sugar, 6 tbsp butter, 1 tsp ground 1/2 tsp cinnamon, a dash of salt, a dash of nutmeg, and a dash of ground ginger over medium heat. bring the mixture to a boil; stir until the butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.
7 stir in 1 tsp vanilla extract.
8 pour the butter mixture evenly over the potatoes, then cover with foil.
9 bake for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and stir, bake for another 30 minutes until bubbly and delicious.
marshmallow addendum:
if you like them, not everyone does, remove the pan from the oven and bump the temperature up to 450. cover the potatoes with mini marshmallows and bake until they reach that perfect combination of golden/melty, 3 to 5 minutes but you should hover nearby because it can go south real quick.

happy thanksgiving. gobble til you wobble! and don't take any shit off of anyone today, unless it's literal shit and you are helping to clean up a creamed spinach casualty. forever thankful for those of you who continue to read a fucking blog on al gore's internet in the year of our lord 2018.