What Doesn’t Kill You on Thanksgiving Only Makes You Fatter


ABC News ran a piece on its website titled 4 Things That Can Kill You on Thanksgiving. But they forgot the leftovers. That would be all the OTHER stuff beyond their potentially fatal four: (1) highly combustible deep-fried turkeys, (2) eating certain food that’s been left out and unrefrigerated too long, (3) engorging and/or imbibing your way to a heart attack, and (4) holiday car accidents.

All that other stuff for me includes birth, death, food, football, and boobs, which makes Thanksgiving the best holiday.

My son was born at Thanksgiving in 1986. Low bilirubin levels left him jaundiced, so he spent part of his first holiday cooking juuust right under the bili lights at the hospital. Dashiell turned out better than the turkey.

When I was in college in the late 1970s I hitchhiked to a couple of Thanksgiving dinners. Imagine trying that today! One time I was picked up on New England’s busy I-91 by (what are the chances?) a friend from middle school. We had both changed in the 8 or 9 years which had passed, so we didn’t recognize each other until a few minutes of conversation had passed. Then, the miles zipped by as we talked and joked and laughed. Three years later he died in a car crash.

Thanksgiving always brings fond memories of that unlikely ride with Alex, and the notion that those types of meetings are not coincidental. Of all the motorists passing me that day, he stopped by pure coincidence? I doubt it. Alex’s father, a prominent minister, would probably have agreed. And so my faith in life’s hopeful possibilities (against the cruel forces of reality and improbability) is accumulated and strengthened.

My golf buddies play a Turkey Bowl football game each Thanksgiving morning. Despite their advancing ages and heavily-Ibuprofened joints, there are no deaths so far. And so my faith swells.


My Aunt Helene was scheduled to join us one Thanksgiving. When she failed to show up, my grandfather drove crosstown to her apartment and found her wedged into the bathtub. Grandpa George spared us the gory details of the rescue, but I imagine it must have sounded like the jellied cranberry slowly splurching out of the can. One of the reasons I pass on the Thanksgiving cranberry.

There have been classic Thanksgiving board games, like Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, and Cranium. Bloody campaigns have been waged, with emotional winners and losers. Just last year the relatively new Pictionary Man produced a memorable artist’s rendering (and I use the term loosely) by my stepfather. Nobody guessed the answer (VIRGIN) from his sketch. And we have the embarrassing and hilarious evidence forever:


Trips to the theater for holiday releases have became an annual tradition. I recall animated classics like Toy Story and Frozen. Big, life-affirming adventures like Life of Pi. Lighthearted comedies like Home Alone. And then there was the glorious mistake my folks made in 1972–taking me to that heartwarming holiday classic The Godfather. All about…Family. Starring severed horse heads! Bloody murders! Naked breasts! I was horrified. Not at the material, but because I was seated between my mom and grandfather. I’m sure they were equally appalled at the corruption they had wrought, but…I survived.

Happy Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday, for a lot of reasons.

Dave Coombs is a morning radio host and he likes the drumstick.

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