As the kickoff to the winter holiday season and a chance for students to catch their breath before taking on final projects, papers and exams, Thanksgiving break is an occasion that students always appreciate. However, the mention of this time-honored American tradition encompassing such cultural mainstays as family unity, televised pro football and afternoon naps on the couch brings to mind the image of only one thing said many Michigan students: Turkey.

Paul Wong
Going home for the holidays can often be a stressful event.

The opportunity to go home for a big turkey dinner with family members is undoubtedly something to be thankful for, even among students who hate turkey and their families. After all, a four-day weekend can never, in itself, be a bad thing. What is most disconcerting, though, is the fact that turkeys alone are involved in the vast majority of Thanksgiving disasters. Although none of them involve anyone getting a turkey stuck on their head like Mr. Bean, students right here at the University have some interesting stories of Thanksgivings gone wrong.

It seems as though everyone has heard of somebody who cooked a turkey with something inside of it that definitely did not belong there, most commonly giblets and their packaging. The end product of this mistake is a melted plastic surprise inside of the turkey for the whole family to enjoy. A number of students claimed to have experienced “the giblet phenomenon” firsthand or knew a friend or family member who had. It seems to have become something of an urban legend, as LSA freshman Katy Larson can attest. Katy and her family shared a few colorful anecdotes on the topic of things not conventionally cooked inside of turkeys while having a non-turkey dinner at the Union.

Katy’s parents, both Michigan alumni, were among the many to have experienced “the giblet phenomenon,” but allegations were also made that one family member dropped a turkey on the ground last year and then tried to act nonchalant in the hopes that no one would notice. The accused did not make a statement regarding the alleged incident. Katy’s father, Steve Larson, generously provided a tip on how to avoid overcooking a turkey.

“The way to tell if a turkey is done,” says Larson, “is that you put a cup of popcorn inside the turkey, and when the popcorn pops up and blows out his ass, he’s done.”

Effects even more unusual and much more damaging to reputations than cooking plastic or popcorn in a turkey or dropping it can also occur on this joyous holiday. LSA freshman Lakethia White told the horror story of one Thanksgiving when her grandmother tried to make cornbread dressing and it gave her entire family diarrhea for days.

“She tried to blame it on the chocolate cake that one of my aunts made, but it wasn’t the cake, because some people didn’t eat the cake, but they did eat her dressing,” White explained.

Lakethia also has a theory on how that tainted stuffing came to be so.

“My grandmother was drinking gin while she was making the dressing. That’s her favorite drink. So that’s what happens when you drink gin and make dressing for Thanksgiving – people get sick. That’s the moral to the story.”

Judging by stories like these, this whole turkey thing doesn’t seem to be worth the trouble. That four-day weekend that is so vital to students’ sanity could easily be spoiled by a bad case of diarrhea. Maybe if people would just skip the turkey, everything would work out fine.

Unfortunately, this is not so, according to an LSA senior who wished to remain anonymous for the sheer novelty of it. He once ran into a problem the day before Thanksgiving, before even leaving the dorms.

“Thanksgiving of my freshman year I was carrying a big load of stuff out to my car – it was parked by the side entrance to Bursley Hall – and I saw some guy in a pickup truck backing up and heading straight toward my car. My hands were totally full, so I couldn’t get his attention, and I yelled, but he couldn’t hear me.”

When a judgment call came up, the student chose letting his car get hit over dropping his handful of important things, like his Playstation and CDs, which could have been broken.

“I heard this big crunch and pieces of one of the taillights went all over the place, but the damage wasn’t too bad. The guy who hit me felt really guilty and offered to pay for it, so I got his phone number. I was angry at the moment, but after a while I realized that my car wasn’t that great anyway, so I never got it fixed.”

If it’s not the turkey, it’s something else. It seems like there’s really no way to avoid mishaps, even on a holiday that’s supposed to be nice and relaxing. But it’s exactly these kinds of stories that drive home the true meaning of Thanksgiving. After all, even with a dinner filled with foreign objects, a lack of bowel control and a smashed up car, we all have a lot to be thankful for, right?

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