Category Archives: Thanksgiving

My Mother’s Brother

My uncle Stanley turns eighty-six tomorrow. He’d be the first to admit that. Stan is one of those people whose birthday often falls on or very close to a major holiday. In his case, he must compete for attention with a basted, golden-brown bird. (Indeed, I found numerous greeting cards, like the one shown in this post, celebrating the coincidence of a person’s birthday with Turkey Day—not to be confused with Turkish Republic Day, which involves more fireworks and presumably less pumpkin pie.)

Today, at a small family get-together for Thanksgiving, I read a poem I wrote in my uncle’s honor. Stanley is fully capable of reading on his own, but my sister suggested that an oral presentation of the verses might be festive. I tend to shy away from having all eyes on me, but among friends and fam, I can be a bit of a ham—or turkey, as the case may be. When my sis and I were kids, we would put on “little shows,” with singing, dancing, and skits—about which I feign embarrassment to this day.

Below you will find an audio recording of my truly underwhelming recitation of the poem at today’s gathering and, below that, the text of the same.

Stan the Man

Stan the Man

I’d like to write a poem
About my mother’s brother;
To love him is to know him—
There really is no other.

But few words rhyme with “uncle”;
“Carbuncle” is the cutest.
Does Stan like Art Garfunkel?
He might prefer a flutist.

No, no, that just won’t do;
I have a better plan.
Yes, I will take my cue
From words that rhyme with “Stan”!

For one thing, Stan’s a man;
This cannot be disputed.
In Valley San Fernan—
Has he been firmly rooted.

Stan looks at life quite gaily,
This son of Chuck and Ann;
His boy plays ukulele,
His girl Duran Duran.

What’s Stan without his Linda?
She’s Jane to his Tarzan.
Their bond no one can hinder;
She bakes him bars pecan.

Stan likes to tell a joke;
He tells it very deadpan.
He’s such a witty bloke—
And drier than a bedpan.

On weekly family Zooms,
Stan educates the clan—
All in our separate rooms,
More smart than we began.

To list Stan’s qualities,
A year’s too short a span;
He aims always to please,
And I’m his biggest fan.

A Thanksgiving Roast

Have you ever seen a roast on Comedy Central? The “roasted” individual typically sits in a throne-like chair on a raised platform, as comedians take turns making fun of him (and of Turkey on a throneeach other) in front of a live audience. The guest of honor then has the opportunity to rebut the merciless put-downs that have been hurled at him throughout the event.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought it might be fun to put the holiday itself on the dais. Over the years, comedians have certainly viewed Turkey Day as fair game, and the Internet is a veritable cornucopia of their insults. So, if you will, please imagine a plump turkey (possibly wearing a Pilgrim hat and holding an “Eat Chicken” sign) on a stage, gobbling graciously as it is lambasted.

  • Johnny Carson: “Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often.”
  • David Letterman: “Thanksgiving is the day when you turn to another family member and say, ‘How long has Mom been drinking like this?’ My mom, after six Bloody Marys, looks at the turkey and goes, ‘Here, kitty, kitty.’”
  • Jay Leno: “Thanksgiving: when the Indians said, ‘Well, this has been fun, but we know you have a long voyage back to England.’”
  • Jon Stewart: “I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.”
  • Dylan Brody: “You know that just before that first Thanksgiving dinner there was one wise, old Native American woman saying, ‘Don’t feed them. If you feed them, they’ll never leave.’”
  • Roseanne Barr: “Here I am 5 o’clock in the morning stuffing breadcrumbs up a dead bird’s butt.”
  • Kevin James: “Thanksgiving, man. Not a good day to be my pants.”

Unlike the ordinary “roastee,” a holiday cannot defend itself. Yet many eloquent individuals have, in effect, told the aforementioned comics to shut their pie holes:

  • H. U. Westermayer: “The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts.  No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.”
  • Robert C. Linter: “Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.”
  • Edward Sandford Martin: “Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.”
  • Wilbur D. Nesbit: “Forever on Thanksgiving Day / The heart will find the pathway home.”

Stick a fork in me, I’m done.