by Jeff Hahne
My nightmare comes in a simple photo, featuring the dog we had just adopted, a lovely turkey, and what happened when we stepped outside for 5 minutes to admire the lights on our home. Don’t worry, we still have the dog and love him very much. He is not trusted alone with a turkey ever again, though...
— Kristy Kelly
My grandmaw had been looking for a Tupperware container of mashed potatoes all throughout the day while cooking Thanksgiving dinner — it was nowhere to be found. Later in the day she was prepping the biscuits and when she turned on the oven to pre-heat we realized something wasn’t right. Next thing we know the oven is on fire! Come to find out it was that Tupperware container of mashed potatoes she had been looking for all day that caught fire. My grandpaw said, “What the hell.. Well why were they in there in the first place?”
One year right before Alex and I were married, it was geographically convenient for my family to have Thanksgiving at our house. Everyone packed in on Thanksgiving day, and started cooking and socializing. Suddenly, my oven started billowing black smoke and we had to put out a casserole that had caught fire. Then, someone accidentally let my parents’ dog into our house, and he started tearing after our cat. The cat bounced off of two walls and clung to the curtain before landing right on the turkey platter. The plate tipped over and the turkey fell all over the floor. We managed to get the cat into a bedroom, and after I thought he had calmed down I tried to carry him outside to get him away from the dog. As I was walking the cat saw my parents’ dog again, and literally clawed up my face and clung to my head before bolting out the front door. Alex had to do first aid on the long red gashes that were left on my face and head, and it HURT. Finally, we did not have enough room at the dinner table for everyone, so a couple of my family members had to use an ironing board as a table. Needless to say, I will never forget the first time I ever hosted Thanksgiving.
— Leah Bumgardner
My aunt put too much cayenne pepper in the green beans one year and when everyone was at the table eating, they all started coughing and sneezing. It ruined the meal.
— Tye Pollard
I decided to go to my step mothers families one year for Thanksgiving and they had a huge pot of pasty rice, watery gravy and the deviled eggs my step grandmother made had egg shells in the filling. Crunching down on an egg shell will ruin any meal.
— Tiffany Moore
Everything was ready and then I went to carve the turkey. The top part was raw and everything else was cooked. I had to broil the top and then it ended up burning the entire turkey. That’s as bad as it gets. We ended up trying to eat around the burnt part, but it was all super dry. I was so embarrassed because people were looking forward to my turkey being nice and moist because it was the year before.
— Cindy Perilli
I was always sick on holidays while growing up, and this was no exception. As my family gathered around the table filled with all the fixin’s, and my grandma, (who was our very special guest that year) looked on, my 5-year-old self got a little green around the gills and lost her cookies... all over the plate of food sitting in front of me. Better there than all over the tablecloth! It was mortifying and absolutely disgusting... my poor embarrassed mom and shocked grandma!!Needless to say, I’ve blocked the rest of that memory... I can’t remember a thing the rest of that day! Sorry for grossing you out! Happy Thanksgiving!
— Sarah Booth
My horror story begins a few days before Thanksgiving 2013. I had just bought a new house and was still learning some of the quirks of my WWII-era brick ranch. I love my master bath with velvet wallpaper, a mirrored wall and a sunken tub with chandelier swinging overhead (Hazardous? But darling, it’s divine); the working fireplace and chrome exhaust fan built into the wall by my stove, and I wanted to spread that love. So, I invited my entire family to come and mangia in my new home.
It was my first Thanksgiving, and after telling my sister in New York, my mom, my husband’s first cousin, her husband and their brood of four kids to come on down, I realized that I would have to cook for all these folks. Never having been a huge cook, it took some time to figure out that something wasn’t quite right with my stove. Pots barely simmered on high and the hood fan made the most ominous noise. The combination convection oven was like trying to fly an airplane — I couldn’t tell if it was working or not. Three days before Thanksgiving and near tears, I hired a handyman off Craigslist. Cliff was in his mid-50s, with a name that inspired confidence in 2013, when tangential connections to the Huxtables and Bill Cosby still felt safe and warm. Cliff’s first visit started promisingly; he fiddled with some tools, twiddled some knobs, took apart my cooktop and got in there for about three hours. Then he took an hour break to tell me about his life, his kids, his glory days. He went back into the kitchen, but instead of returning to work continued talking and flirting in a jokey manner for another 30 minutes. But I was about the stove.
“Er, so what seems to be the problem?” I asked. “Oh, I’m getting to the bottom of it. These things take time.” Well my husband is on his way, maybe you can explain the situation to him. “Can I come back tomorrow?” OK.
The next day, Cliff came by and piddled for two hours while talking about his high school days, peppering his conversation with compliments. I was getting antsy, with my eye on the calendar and the clock. He’d spent 6 hours; how much longer was this going to take, and how much would it cost? “Don’t worry hon, it’s not your fault. I charge by the job, not by the hour.” I’m expecting 10 guests in 2 days and this stove has got to be working, I told him. My husband called my cell and he suddenly had to leave, promising to wrap the job up on the morrow. The next day I greeted him at the door with the announcement that I’d bought a Bojangles fried turkey just in case, but I had to get cooking today or else. I didn’t know how many of his handyman jobs had ended with him as the satisfied customer, but it wasn’t happening here. He tucked his tail, bought a few replacement parts and finished with my stove in under an hour and charged me $35 — which convinced me he could’ve finished the first day.
I popped the “real” turkey in the oven and the pots on the stove only to discover that although all the burners technically worked, the switches worked backward: on all but one, high was in fact low and low was high. I tried to keep track of it but had some casualties as I cooked and cleaned through the night, right up until my guests began to arrive Thanksgiving Day. First was my mom, who at the time was perpetually dissatisfied with everything I did, including buying the house. Then my sister flew in from New York, and I picked her up from the airport. Finally my cousins-in-law arrived, complete with a two-year-old hell-bent on killing himself in my house. Glass corners were like magnets for this child’s oversize head. I set the table in a fluster, irritated, exhausted and running dangerously low on damns to give. The holiday dinner passed in a pissed-off blur, and I told the story of the stove (by way of apologizing for the scorched dressing). The cousin-in-law’s husband cracked, “Yeah, that handyman couldn’t get any work done with Alex always coming home!”
— Emiene Wright