My wife and I are lucky that our first Thanksgiving together ended with a small party of foreign nationals vomiting just outside of our apartment. It kind of set the bar that all future Thanksgivings had to clear really, really low.
It was 1992 and Sharon and I were living in New Orleans but we weren't planning on staying much longer. Earlier that year, she and I had decided that we were going to travel the world together and teach English in foreign schools for a living. As such, we both went about pursuing that dream in our own ways. Sharon began volunteering as an English instructor for various organizations around the New Orleans, hoping to gain valuable teaching experience needed to land a good job overseas. I, a young, white man fresh out of college, knew that simply informing the world of my plans would be enough to get me what I wanted, so I spent my last few months there learning how to prepare as many authentic New Orleans recipes I could find that could be consumed through a straw and contained bourbon. And I still use those recipes today, so you decide who used their time more wisely, why don't you?
I don't talk too much about my wife in this site, mainly because I never see her and have no idea what she's up to these days, but from what little I do write, it should come as no surprise that she is insane.
Her volunteering efforts led her to a large Vietnamese family living in a small apartment, non-English speakers all, and thus began our association with the people that we would later shoot full of sick on our uniquely American Thanksgiving holiday. But first Sharon made them shop for the bullets. So to speak.
There were about ten members of the family and all morning I've searched for a picture of them that I could post here or at least help me remember names, but I've found nothing. I remember a few children, many adults, and an elderly couple that liked to laugh and were older than I thought people could ever be, which since I was just out of college probably put them in their mid-40s. My wife visited them in their apartment once a week for English lessons, and when November came, she decided to turn Thanksgiving into what educators call a 'teachable moment' by dividing up the family into teams, giving them each a list, and taking them down to Schweggman's to buy groceries for our Thanksgiving dinner. Because for a family trying to adjust to a new life in the US, there exists no better English phrase to learn than, "Pardon me, on which aisle will I find the Cheez Whiz?"
When Thanksgiving day came, we carpooled the family out to our apartment, which was even smaller than theirs, and we crowded around borrowed card tables and sat on borrowed chairs. We feasted on turkey and cornbread stuffing and broccoli casserole. We had asparagus and squash and pies and pies and pies. We smiled and laughed and communicated poorly and gestured wildly. And then they went outside and threw up.
All of the sixteen subsequent Thanksgivings Sharon and I have celebrated together since then have been measured by that yardstick: the did-more-people-vomit-than-in-1992 yardstick. If the answer is no, then Thanksgiving was a success.
The answer has yet to be yes.