Saturday, November 27, 2010

On Thanksgiving Games (Or, Not your typical Thanksgiving post, I promise)

Are you familiar with Thanksgiving Day music? Did you even know there were Thanksgiving tunes? Neither did I, but two days ago, a simple game meant to occupy the kids turned our family Thanksgiving into a local musical.

It all started when I felt pity for my two kids for not having cousins to share the family holidays with. I was fortunate enough to grow up with a table full of 'em and so loved all family gatherings. But since my own kids aren't as lucky, they don't enjoy the family dinners like I did, and that makes me sad. So in planning for this year's T-giving dinner at my mother's house, where 13 adults would grace the table with my two children, ages 12 and 9, I decided my kids needed jobs.

I created two questionnaires - one for my rock-musician son, and the other for my silly goofball of a daughter. His question was: Who was your favorite singer or rock group when you were a kid? Her question was: What was the craziest thing you did as a kid or teenager? I then provided the name of every adult in attendance and a space for the kids to fill in the answers. They conducted their interviews during cocktail hour so that during dinner - once the can't-talk-eating silence set it - we'd make a guessing game out of it.

My son began by asking everyone to guess whose favorite group was The Platters. A poor poker face on my father's part revealed him, and when my cousin chose him, Dad broke into song - a tune I could not place, not so much out of lack of familiarity and more out of inability to identify any tune whatsoever. (This from the same man who insists on singing Happy Birthday to me every year over the's painful, I tell you.)

Next came Dion and the Belmonts. Once Mom was guessed...yep, you got it...she broke into a rendition of Run-around Sue which, at least, was better than Dad's singing. At this point, my son was losing it. He wanted to get through the list. I reminded him that this was the purpose of the game - to get everyone talking, laughing, and discussing something other than politics (which never goes over well in this bi-partisan family).

I won't go through all 13 musical selections, but I will mention my step-father's choice, John Philip Sousa. (What????) With this, everyone broke into Be kind to your web-footed friend, for a duck may be somebody's uncle... Oy vey! But when it was my turn and I was identified as the lover of Styx, I couldn't help myself. Tonight's the night we'll make history, honey, you and I, and I'll take any risk to tie back the hands of time and stay with you here tonight. Yeah, baby, the Best of Times.

Finally, it was my daughter's turn to have everyone guess who had committed what crazy act in their youth. I learned many wonderful things about my family and friends that night, thankfully in rated G version since most of us knew these answers would be shared. Not my cousin Don, though, whose answer was "got married". His wife was there, and later when we went around the table and said what we were thankful for, she said, "I'm thankful I've got a sense of humor." Good woman, my cousin Judy!

Other gems included shooting out street lights with a BB gun, climbing a hotel tower and dropping water balloons on people below until chased away by police, trying to get into the Guinness Book of World Records by trying to drink the most water (failed), sneaking into the University of Miami pool at night and jumping off the high dive naked, and cutting off a sibling's long hair while she slept (my personal favorite).

This game lasted the entire dinner as we talked, stared at each other in surprise, and laughed loudly. It was brilliant. And the kids could not once complain of being bored...the greatest part of it all. Everyone enjoyed it so much that I think it will become a family tradition. I've already got question ideas brewing for next year.

What say you? Any fun Thanksgiving traditions you'd like to share?


  1. What a cute game! I generally don't have big get togethers but this would be great for any party. I'm going to pass this on to my family up north. I'll bet they get a kick out of this.


  2. We don't have any traditions, but I like your new one. Cutting off a sibling's long hair while she slept...brutal but awesome.

  3. Oh my gosh that sounds like a HOOT!!

    I was laughing so hard at "John Philip Sousa". LOL!!

  4. What a fabulous post! Wish I'd been at your house...though I'm not sure I'd have broken into song....I consider it a kindness to the group to refrain