The Hordes of Thanksgiving
NOTE: The following is based on a true story… unfortunately.
We all have our Thanksgiving traditions. For many it’s getting the entire family together to mutually increase their chances of diabetes and heart disease. For others it’s watching football and drinking whiskey until you hallucinate that your home team is winning and you pass out on the floor in front of the television.
Our tradition has a little bit of both.
My mother-in-law, Mrs. D (The name has been changed to protect the chef), makes a phenomenally overabundant meal every year meaning that she cooks for a small army, but is actually feeding only six. Of course because of this everyone was taking leftovers home, probably enough to last another week’s worth of meals. I’m sure Mr. D helped with the cooking, however the kitchen was Mrs. D’s domain and she wielded a cutting knife like a Samurai warrior. We knew to respect such deadly culinary skills.
Mrs. D’s normal Thanksgiving meal includes turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, rolls, cornbread, green beans, cranberry sauce, salad, a seven-layer bean dip (she gets creative sometimes), and both pumpkin and pecan pie for those bitter rivalries over which is better. My awesome husband, who shall be referred to simply as “M” prefers the savory pumpkin pie, whilst I prefer the ridiculously sweet pecan pie. Sure I’ll eat some pumpkin pie, but I’d step over my own mother’s festering freshly-killed corpse for a good pecan pie (sorry, Mom).
All these are made from raw ingredients as Mrs. D didn’t believe in prepackaged foods, so that’s several days worth of furious cooking. I need to remember to thank her for her diligent and tasty services the next I see her.
After our gut-busting meal we would watch whatever sports game was on television, while Mr. and Mrs. D would keep pushing alcohol on us. I’m not really complaining; it’s just we weren’t alcoholics. The in-laws also weren’t alcoholics, however around the holidays there seemed to be a lot more wine going around. Mr. D would also make his famous eggnog with a little nutmeg and a lot of whiskey. This was a necessary holiday concoction in that house.
This one particular incident, which is actually not alcohol-related, began several years ago one Thanksgiving Thursday... of course that statement’s rather redundant, because Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday. Anyway, we had gotten back from dinner at the in-laws house over at their cabin in the middle-of-nowhere East Texas. It’s only a three hour drive between Dallas and the cabin, so our packed leftovers were perfectly safe. We made it through yet another smorgasbord of holiday cuisine and lived to tell about it.
However, something was amiss.
Something just wasn’t right with the universe.
This year Mrs. D didn’t have time to make neither pumpkin pie, nor cranberry sauce. We understood it was a pressing and very busy holiday season, and we forgave her for this unforgivable sin, but we couldn’t get past this creeping feeling that we needed to correct this grave injustice. So at ten o’clock at night on this most awkward of Thanksgivings we made a very bad decision and got in the car to search for a grocery store. Sure grocery stores are everywhere, but where are you going to find one open this late at night on a national holiday? We checked the local Krogers, Tom Thumbs, Albertsons… all closed. We drove around for forty-five minutes, trying desperately to avoid the one place we knew would be open. Unfortunately, we had exhausted all other options, and so we went to…
The horrible hellspawn with a thousand heads.
On any normal night such a statement would be quite an exaggeration, however not on the eve of Black Friday.
Black Friday. Never has such an event sent a shiver down the spine of every self-respecting retail worker.
For those of you that don’t live in the United States, or have been buried in a tomb without internet access, Black Friday is a very brief period of time after Thanksgiving when the portals to Hell open at every major retailer and everyone succumbs to a temporary bargain-induced insanity. People line up outside of stores for days just to be the first in the doors to get those sweet sweet price cuts on copious amounts of plastic junk that no one really needs. I’m not about to willingly do this myself, however if someone else wants to brave those crowds to get me a Playstation 3 I would be most grateful.
Now where was I?
We came to our local Walmart Supercenter somewhere near eleven o’clock. Their official sales started at midnight, and the parking lot was packed. We found a space in the very back of the lot as that was the only space available during such a monumental event.
We made our way past the stragglers outside, those customers who were building up the strength to face the hordes within Walmart’s automatic doors. We knew the feeling as we were marching directly to our doom.
The doors opened with a whoosh and we came face to face with this holiday apocalypse. Everywhere we looked there were people shoving, shouting, screaming as the chaos overtook the poor employees trying to weather this terrible storm.
We decided to split up to cover more ground. I went to look for some canned cranberry sauce, while M searched for something resembling a pumpkin pie. Even though their grocery aisles were near the front of the store we still had to wade through the sea of grabby arms and gnashing teeth. We were both large people dressed in heavy black trench coats, giving us a hard-nosed “Boondock Saints” look, however that didn’t dissuade the mindless horde from head-on confrontation.
“HEY! YOU GOTTA WAIT IN LINE!” a flailing flurry of limbs flapped.
“No I’m just….”
“DON’T TAKE MY TOASTER!” some other human hollered.
“But, I don’t want…”
“GET IN LINE!” a set of palms postulated as they pushed me into an endcap of canned pears.
“SHUT UP! I JUST WANT SOME CRANBERRY SAUCE!” I shouted, and swung my fist in a random direction, possibly coming in contact with a poor fool’s face. I wasn’t paying attention; I was just trying to brutally barrel through the massive mob to get that can of cranberry sauce.
It was close.
I saw it at the end of the aisle, barricaded by a wall of flesh. I made a mad dash towards the dam, hitting the pulsating pile of people like a linebacker. With a quick swing of my hand I grabbed the can of cranberry sauce and squeezed out the other side of the aisle. I tumbled to the ground and turned to see the monstrous moaning menace now directing its six or so eyes at me, fixated on the precious product I dared to take from them. I knew better that to try and fight such a ferocious beast, and I picked my feet up and ran for my life.
I met M in the bakery aisle.
“They’re out of pumpkin pies, but I did find these little pumpkin tarts.”
“Run!” I shouted, and we grabbed whatever pumpkin-flavored desserts we could and then scampered for the registers.
I would like to say we made it out safely, however I do feel that a small sliver of my soul is still somewhere in that Walmart. Maybe one day I will gather the courage to go back on Black Friday and retrieve it.
Have you ever faced the demons of Black Friday?
How about some more holiday cheer?
- It's Christmas in Texas
Ah it’s mid-October and it’s the holiday season. I know this, because they’re putting out the Christmas decorations at Walmart. We haven’t even snacked on our Halloween candy yet, and already they’re wetting our lips with holiday cheer.
- The Mysterious Midnight Mass
A story about a man who attends midnight mass with his wife and learns the terrible consequences of falling asleep in church.
- The Severed Head
A teenage boy decides to help a weeping spirit reconcile her untimely death, and discovers how difficult it can be to deal with death. A macabre mess of dark humor paying homage to the campfire-lit stories passed down from generation to generation.