On Thanksgiving night, while my mom and brother Zack cooked the entire meal and the rest of us pitched in pre-dinner in any way we could, my mom hired a lovely woman, Claudia, to come clean the dishes after we finished. Was that entirely necessary? No, of course not. Was it massively appreciated by all of us? Yes, absolutely. It gave us a chance to relax after a long day of preparation, and enjoy each other’s company without dreading the clean-up aftermath which, let’s be honest, everybody hates. There is no question it was a luxury, but it was one we thoroughly appreciated, and Claudia was paid generously for her services (she was also hilarious and added a ton of personality to the dinner table dynamic, but that’s beside the point).
So the next night, we all had dinner at the house again. The men cooked a huge and delicious meal, and once again we had a full table of people. About 25 minutes after everyone’s food had been completely consumed, we were still sitting around the table, playing with our napkins and lingering– mainly because we were too full to get up. That’s when Eric made a comment about how long we’d been at the table, and, in a nod to the luxury of Thanksgiving night, joked that it must be because we weren’t sure what to do without someone coming to clear our plates. Again, that was not actually the case– but it was humorous to imagine a situation in which it would be (because somewhere, that family exists).
“That’s like the title of an Onion article,” Zack said. “Potomac Family Unsure What to Do at End of Thanksgiving Dinner Without Help.” From there, with the zeal and boldness one can only acquire from alcohol, Zack decided that he would write it himself and post it on Facebook. The entire piece, of course, is a joke. It uses sarcasm and irony to expose and denounce a societal vice– you know, satire. A completely self-aware, artful expression of playful criticism.
That being said, I warned him that some people would be offended or simply not get it. He thought it was insane that there would be people who wouldn’t understand that it was a complete and utter joke. I told him that if there is one lesson to take from this election, it’s to NEVER underestimate what people out in the world are willing to misunderstand and be offended by.
He posted it anyway. Mostly people responded with laughter, but then he heard from an old high school friend who reacted in anger. She questioned what his end game was– “to prove your family is privileged?” He explained that it was satire, and meant to entertain, in the same way any (potentially offensive if taken literally) Onion article might. She said that he should be more sensitive to the climate post-election, and that the whole piece was in poor taste. He later received a message from an old camp counselor telling him, “I’m disappointed in you.” Maybe they didn’t get that what was in the article isn’t at all what actually happened. Maybe they just didn’t get it in general. Or maybe they just straight up didn’t find it funny. It offended them. And that’s ok. That happens. Just ask Louis C.K.
But Zack felt bad.
Therefore, even though he received more positive reactions than negative, he panicked and took the piece down in fear of offending anyone else.
So I offered to publish it on my blog. You know– where people are used to being offended.
Freedom of speech, baby.
Potomac, MD – It started off as a perfectly normal Thanksgiving weekend in Potomac, Maryland. Thursday night dinner was amazing, an extravagant meal adorned with expensive place settings and top-tier wine provided by the house sommelier, Richard Goldstein, 61, and lifelong resident of Potomac. The perfect day started with 18 holes at Woodfield Country Club and a few hours in the club sauna. Debbie, Richards’s wife of 38 years, enjoyed some time with the Mahjong Sisters, accompanied by white wine and some neighborhood gossip. But what started off as a peaceful night with wine and St. André cheese quickly turned into an ordeal that can only be described as chaos.
“To be honest, it all started a little rocky,” said Debbie Goldstein, 58, and fancy-dinner enthusiast. “Dinner was supposed to come out at 7:30, but we really weren’t served until 7:45. It’s just the little things, you know?”
But things turned from so-so to worse once the meal was over. At the end of the meal, the Goldstein family quickly realized that the catering help was no longer there to clear the dinner table. “We just didn’t know what to do,” said Rebecca, 31, a millionaire elementary school tutor who works on New York’s upper east side. “We just sat there. All of our plates were empty, and we just didn’t know how long it was going to be until somebody cleared them away. It was really upsetting.”
“I just stared blankly as I played around with my sterling silver napkin ring,” said Andrea, 34, engaged to boutique investment banker Josh Greenstein. “In any other situation, I would’ve lost my cool. Thank god I took Xanax during the hors d’oeuvres.”
But the parents and older children weren’t the only ones who were upset. “I just wanted to play ping pong and air hockey in the basement,” said Tyler, 9. “We weren’t allowed to leave. It was so unfair!”
It wasn’t the apocalypse for everyone at the table. Andy, Rebecca’s husband, could only recount the half-eaten turkey leg on Rebecca’s plate at the end of the meal. “I didn’t know whether to eat it off her plate or sneak it out of the garbage later that night.”
But the majority of the family was on the brink of full-blown panic when Barbara, Josh’s mother who was joining the Goldstein family from Plainview, NY, decided to take a stand. “She just stood up and started picking up plates,” said Debbie. “I just couldn’t believe it! It was such a mitzvah!”
“After that, it was like the domino effect, you know?” said Andrea. “She made us realize how refreshing it is to do a little manual labor now and then.”
“Want to see a picture of her on my phone?” said Debbie, reminiscing of the family’s old housekeeper, who moved back to Trinidad ten years ago. “She used to call me ‘Daddy’,” said Richard. “Things were easier back then.”