It was probably about 6:30 a.m. on July 6th when I saw my first Halloween advertisement. Sleep deprived and running on little more than birthday cake and adrenaline, my wife and I came to the horrifying realization that there was NO MILK for coffee. None. Even the powdered goat milk we keep in the pantry for baking emergencies had been used up during… well… a baking emergency. So off I stumbled to the Stop and Shop, a few hundred feet from our front door, where I encountered a sign hanging in a vacant storefront announcing that HALLOWEEN CENTRAL would be opening SOON!
Before the month was out, before teachers had even accepted that summer vacation was not a permanent thing, the candy began appearing on shelves. And the costumes. And the singing tombstones adorned with zombies eating their own still-beating hearts. And this could only mean one thing…
Thanksgiving would be next.
Each year, The Holiday Conversations in our extended family begin in mid-July, when our little unit begins strategizing with our in-laws to get out ahead of the game. It’s preemptive damage control. Much like leaving a play-date en-masse, we like to present a united front when the parents-in-law begin sniffing around our holiday plans.
Where will we be for Thanksgiving? Can we make three stops in one day again? What about Christmas Eve? Christmas morning? Christmas dinner? New Year’s Eve? New Year’s Day? Have we considered the third Thursday of Advent?
It’s wonderful to be loved and wanted, but we’re working on an intricate parental puzzle here with six to seven moving parts, depending on various people’s relationship status.
The year before our daughter was born, we set up a strict rotation that lasted a good three years: Whoever got Thanksgiving was not eligible for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Christmas breakfast would always go to my dad. For example, if Person A got Thanksgiving in 2010, they would have Christmas Eve in 2011 and Christmas Day in 2012. Our best friends in Nashville could be subbed in at any time. This allowed everyone to plan approximately three years in advance. It seemed perfect. But there’s no such thing as perfection.
In 2012, we scrapped our rotational system and drafted an application system. Our plans for this year’s Thanksgiving were solidified weeks ago, but I’d like to share it here in case anyone finds it useful. I’ve updated it for the 2015 calendar year…
Dear Family Members,
Because you have all recently inquired about our Thanksgiving plans, we are now accepting applications requesting the presence of our humble little family at your Thanksgiving event. Please include the following information in your application (note: applications must be typed in 12 point font, either Ariel or Times New Roman; handwritten applications will not be accepted):
- The date of the last Thanksgiving we spent with you
- Estimated start and end time
- Sample menu (yes, dessert, appetizers and alcohol selection count)
- A list of potential conflicts or confrontations which may arise during this meal
- A list of embarrassing stories you plan to tell
- A list of other invited guests and possible surprise guests
- A compelling reason why you think YOUR Thanksgiving event is more important than anyone else’s
- A dynamic 3-point plan detailing how this year’s Thanksgiving will be better than the one indicated in step 1
- A check, made out to cash, containing the $100 non-refundable application fee
- A notarized affidavit stating that, if chosen, you agree to relinquish your claim to our presence at any Thanksgiving event taking place in 2016, 2017, 2018, or 2019. If chosen, you will next be eligible to reapply again in November of 2020.
Applications will be reviewed in the order in which they are received. Please do not contact us regarding the status of your application. Any such contact will result in immediate disqualification of your application. Decisions will be announced on November 23rd, 2015.