Ghosts of Thanksgiving Past

Kitchen fires, uninvited guests and seating at the kiddie table. The Root contributors reveal their worst Turkey Day memories.


I own a car, pay my own bills and have a retirement account. However, most years, my family sits me at the kiddie table at Thanksgiving. You know the holiday kiddie table, that foldout table, stuffed in the corner of the dining room. My family is super small, and we procreate sporadically. The "elders" get first dibs on the main table with the high-back chairs. Many years I am left eating the bird and dressing with my "baby cousins" who are 19 years my junior. My knees meet the table and I fear that those folding chairs will skid under my weight. Hopefully, I will get a promotion to the big table this year. If one of my older relatives is in a bad mood and decides not to eat with the rest of the family, I'm a shoo-in! If not, it's Disney tales at dinner for me.


Just last year I had a crazy Thanksgiving. But maybe it wasn't as bad for me as it was for my boyfriend. It was his first time meeting my family in Texas. And I'm not just talkin' bout my mom, stepfather and brother. It was my grandma, uncle, cousins, church members, family friends—and a pastor. Talk about vetting a candidate. He was grilled immediately after he finished eating. The reverend chatted him up for, oh, just about two hours. I'm walking up and down the stairs making sure he is still, you know, alive. In the end, he got the mark of approval, indeed something to be thankful for. But this year, pray for me. It's my turn to go to Georgia to see his fam. Hopefully I come out alive, too. 


During my junior year of college, I decided that Thanksgiving was a bunk holiday. Pilgrims? Colonization? No thanks. A few of my Howard University friends and I decided we were going to fast in remembrance of the slain Native Americans. We all lived in different cities but talked on the phone as we fasted from sunup to sundown. The only thing I drank was cran-raspberry juice. I also allowed myself to eat Jay's salt-n-vinegar chips at the very end. My family rolled their eyes at me the entire time. By the end of the night, I had a stomachache. And I never touched the turkey. Not even the next day.