I have a terribly small family. My four grandparents are dead. My parents have one living sibling between them, and she has no children. This leaves me with two parents, a childless aunt/uncle pair, and a married sister with three kids. That's it.

Unlike most Americans, then, I don't have a giant extended family full of knuckleheads with whom I must interact for the holidays. I feel cheated, deprived of the borderline insane Uncle burying silver in his yard and ranting about the coloreds; the Garfield- and Touched By an Angel-loving Aunt who incessantly forwards email after email laden with Bible verses, Teabagger crap, and some non-existent little white girl with leukemia who needs our prayers; the high school dropout cousins hurling child after illiterate child at the world while bravely waging a losing battle against the horrors of paint huffing. Worse yet, what family I have are normal. This perennially deprives me of good anecdotes about the insane people to whom I am related.

So on this most Thankful of holidays, regale me with your best tales – quotes from Uncle Larry, your dad's conspiracy theories, redneck cousins who knock out one another's teeth in billiard hall scuffles, Aunts straight out of a Cathy comic, etc. – of your extended families. I look at Teabagger footage and realize that every one of those people is related to someone normal. If you're lucky enough to be that person, feel free to share with the rest of us. It will be cathartic. Mean, I guess, but also cathartic. And funny.

20 thoughts on “FAMILY TIME”

  • sorry, no nutzoid relatives – they're all fellow liberals, which is something to be thankful for; are there more out there as fortunate as I? – tho my ex-sister-in-law did approvingly send a "so sad about the War on Christmas" recording to my daughter last year. Does that count?

  • Hmm, the weirdest thing that I can think of is that my immediate family read and watched V for Vendetta sad that England lost in the end. I believe my brother said before watching the movie for the first time something along the lines, "Ooh I've heard of this one. It's the ones where the good Christians get the right to attack the homosexuals."

  • As the lone liberal in my family I have a treasure trove of quotes. My person favorite was from my uncle talking about the "myth" of global warming "Burning gas doesn't make carbon dioxide, it makes carbon MONOXIDE, stupid"
    When I pressed him on the issue explaining how burning fossil fuels does create CO2 and that there is literally no scientist that doesn't agree with that consensus, he just called them liberal over educated idiots.

    Then there was last Christmas, after Obama's election. I think we can all guess what was said….

  • Ah, there are sooo many : )
    "Can you believe those idiots?"
    "What idiots?"
    "Global warming conspiracy people. They actually think the planet is warming up b/c of something humans did!"

    "I'm going to a teabagging party on Friday, want to go?"
    "uh….what do you think?!"

    "I'm tired of my tax dollars paying for everyone else. If people can't afford health insurance, then they just don't deserve it."

    I could go on and on. It is like having access to my own personal crew of Fox 'news' commentators.
    But I love them, and am making their delicious Thanksgiving meal right now. If we didn't have any crazy family, who would we have to complain about? :)

  • Alas, my family is cursed with rampant sanity. I do have semi-wacked out brother-in-law, but he lives 2000 miles away, and breathes through his nose for a while when I explain things to him in short monosyllabic sentences.

    Maybe it's because I'm the partiarch, and everyone else – except my 88-yr-old mother – is younger than I.

    Happy Thanksgiving, and may you be spared the incidents that make for great stories, in retrospect.

    Jzb the thankful trombonist

  • There's so many to choose from when you have a family full of Southern Baptists who spend as much time attending church as they do devising ways to get out of paying taxes. Who, while writing the 10%-of-gross-income tithing check, bitch about the condition of the roadways, the poor quality of schools, and the unfairness in my brother

  • The one time I post and I screw it up. Go figure.

    …brother’s girlfriend losing her food stamps because the state discovered she was living with someone who was employed.

    My father-in-law, nicest man around, can go from 0-60 on the pissed-off scale with just one bad word about Walmart.

    Recent conversation with Step-dad
    SD: They should take all the queers and put them on an island and nuke it.
    Me: That’s not a very Christian-like thing to say.
    SD: I don’t care. That’s what we should do. Kill ‘em all.
    Me: Why? How do they affect your life? (meaning his million dollar homestead, military pension, social security, Keys vacation home, and 2.6% effective tax rate)
    SD: You don’t think they affect you? Well, you’re wrong. They do. More than half the people in Congress are queer.
    Me: Half?
    SD: Damn right. Probably more.
    Me: Well, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this subject.
    SD (huffing): I’m not agreeing to anything.

    While my family is 100%, certifiably, batshit religious crazy, they sometimes have moments of lucidity. My step-dad lvoted for Obama, and so did my grandpa who has never voted Democrat. My mom, however, voted McCain even though she admitted she thought Obama would be a better president. Why did she vote McCain? Cause her preacher told her to (the same preacher who assures her weekly that her daughter and three grandchildren are all going to burn in the fires of hell because they don’t subscribe to the same religion as she does)

    But I love them. And they return the affection, despite my obvious shortcomings.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Not too many people in my family anymore- Death was very busy over the last decade in my family and from a very large extended family of great aunts and uncles, grandparents and parents, only me and my two siblings are left- and one of them lives clear across the country.
    Which leaves me with the option of Thanksgiving with my sister's in- laws. Very nice people, the epitome of mid- western culture, humble, hard- working, and polite. And very, very BORING. Traditionally they vote republican, but more in the loyalty- to- a- local- ball- team sense than an ideological one.
    In this setting guess who has the honorary title of The Crazy Uncle Who Rants?

  • Both I and the missus have families best kept at arm's length. So we moved far away from them, to avoid the obligations of interacting directly. Of course, now and then we do have to visit (her folks — I left mine back in Europe).

    So inevitably I get exposed to the crazy cousin-in-law (is there such a thing?) who carries a gun and tells me greenhouse gases are actually good for the environment, because plants need CO2 to grow; hence capping emissions is actually harming the biosphere. Or the crazy gramps who tells everybody Ahmadinnerjacket is actually willing to commit mass suicide if that's what bombing Israel requires — because his religion tells him to be a martyr.

    But a weirder experience I had years ago, as a recently arrived foreigner. A friend took me to his family for T-giving, and after the glorious meal we went out to visit this uncle of his, who lived somewhere in the sticks, in Pennsylvania. The man was 62, and an avid collector of old muscle cars and also die-cast toy models — an endless amount of them. They were on the shelves, everywhere. Amazingly, he also had a wife.

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

  • From the white trash branch of my family, my favorite story revolves around a cousin who returned for a Thanksgiving visit to the family base in Pennsylvania. She lives in a trailer in Tennessee, and basically went native there. As she took a cigarette break outdoors (nobody else in her family smokes), standing barefoot on a cement porch in typical 40 degree Pennsyvania weather, she intoned "ah hate wearin' shoes.. ah only wear them to go to the store.." The closest thing I've ever encountered to a hillbilly.

    A second runner up story involves a five year old boy from the same family branch, a real pistol of a kid. Something went wrong (did he trip over his shoes? something of that caliber), and the five year old kid started blaming the government – which blew my mind. Not too much propagandizing going on in that household, eh?

    Fortunately we're all civil to each other, and for better or worse, politics never comes up. My brother and I may as well have descended into this clan from Planet Zebulon – we managed to escape to California, and are treated as exotics, sometimes even like royalty. It's bizarre.

  • Growing up in California during the 70s, I encountered the polar opposite of the Beckian loon: the holy-shit-you-can't-be-serious liberal. An aunt of mine–a resident of an understandably short-lived marriage to a blood-uncle–was a particularly egregious offender. Crystals can cure cancer? Yep. Radical vegan? Yep–which meant that we got a lecture with the turkey every year. (She was the one from whom I first learned the word "speciesist," one of those moments you remember because you had to transform a laugh into a cough when you realized the person wasn't kidding.) Very very 'spiritual' but no clearly developed sense of religion, apart from the conviction that the Goddess and Nature were one? Yep. Basically one of those people who makes you cringe at the realization that this is why progressivism is regarded with such disdain–because people aren't using the liberation from tired restraint to achieve smarter, wiser modes of thought/conduct–they're just doing it to get high and smug and pretentious and lazy.

  • Aslan Maskhadov says:

    Priceless quote from Mom, the day after the 2008 election: "We have just elected a president by Affirmative action!" I then proceeded to ask her whether or not Obama had been given any electoral or popular votes up front, my best approximation of affirmative action for political campaigns. She quickly changed the subject to ranting about how Obama's not really black, he's HALF-WHITE!!! My response to this common right-wing butthurt catch-phrase is to ask the following: If a man who looked just like Obama stole your car, would you be falling over yourself to remind the police that the man was "half-white"? I doubt it. This is just the most desperate method of the butthurt masses to try to take something away from the black community. It was common among racist intellectuals to try to ball-break accomplished black intellectuals and writers by pointing out that they were part white.

  • At dinner, my grandfather asked me why I wasn't eating any meat. I told him that I don't eat meat. His reaction was one that I would have expected if I had told him I had suddenly decided to convert to Islam, was homosexual, etc. He was breathing pretty heavily, and stopped eating. He then reminded me that, "our ancestors would not have made it if they didn't eat meat. We wouldn't be here. No one would be here." I thought that was it, but he kept bringing it up at random times throughout the day. He was also concerned that any future children of mine would be weak and inferior, and that my grades would start to slip.

    Also, my great aunt complained for a solid 20 minutes about having to "press 1 for English" when she called her cable provider. "This is America," she exclaimed, "we should not have to press 1, the Mexicans should have to push 1 for Spanish! We're giving those illegal immigrants free healthcare, they should have to press 1. I'm not pressing 1 anymore, I'm hanging up. I don't even like TV."

  • My oldest aunt once told me that she heard that Muslims where celebrating in the streets of Carbondale, IL after 9/11.

  • Any complaint (and I have heard these complaints) about having to press 1 for English last quite a bit longer than the time it takes to press 1.

  • At Thanksgiving right after 9/11, my (now ex) husband's uncle told me with a completely straight face that America "should just go ahead and nuke Central Asia".

  • After hurricane Katrina, my second cousin (MBA from USC, uber-christian, protein obsessed) argued that she didn't want her tax dollars to rebuild "that city." I said "you don't want to rebuild a a city with lots of black people in it?"

    I asked her what she would think if her city, Los Angeles, was fucked up by an earthquake as badly as New Orleans was. She said of course it should be rebuilt. I had no response.

  • "redneck cousins who knock out one another's teeth in billiard hall scuffles,"

    I feel like I have been deprived of the opportunity to share my own family's best story, but I don't mind, Ed. How about the nicoturkey?

  • My Grandma is full of them. I think my favorite is the time she (a Catholic who believes protestants are not true Christians) told me she was voting for Bush (Protestant) because he's more Christian than Kerry (Catholic).

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