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The Pantomime Horse

You know what, family? I am sick and tired of being told I ruined Thanksgiving. I didn’t. That’s right, you’re going to listen to me now, family. Everyone listen to me, right now. I will stand on this chair so everyone can see me. Listen as I tap my fork against this glass to capture your attention. Have I achieved my goal? Excellent.

Everyone, please stop menacingly brandishing your dinnerware and re-holster your stun guns. We need to look at this fiasco in a calm, cool-headed manner. Justice will be served in time, ladies and gentlemen … all in good time.

First we must examine the nature of this problem. Thankfully — and surprisingly — this year’s near-violent family quarrel is not the aftermath of one of Aunt Christinia’s trademark drunken vaudeville acts on the dinner table. Cheers to whomever made her the designated driver this year.

Could someone please help Aunt Laurel? She got her hand stuck in the garbage disposal again.

We can trace the beginning of this problem back to Aunt Aimee and Aunt Debbie’s annual “Unhealthy Thanksgiving Rivalry Turkey Bake-Off Contest.” While we all know and love this most sacred of holiday events, we also know Aunt Debbie has won this contest for the past eight years and was expected to repeat her success again this year.

As you also know, I am a vegetarian. I usually do this only so I can complain at family gatherings and force people to politely accommodate me, but this year I actually wanted to eat something other than mashed potatoes and salad, so I made a special “turkey alternative” of tofu and soy product. I call it “Tom The Thanksgiving Vegetarian Semi-Delicious Meat-Substitute,” and I just expected to eat the unappealing monster by myself.

No, Grandma, I’m not eating the turkey. Because it’s meat. Yes, Grandma, it is.

Imagine my surprise, however, when senile Great-Uncle Matt expressed interest in a small helping of tofu white “meat” instead of Aunt Debbie’s turkey! I’m glad he liked it, but I had no idea what would ensue — the most closely contested Turkey Bake-Off Contest in modern family history!

Aunt Aimee’s turkey won the bake-off by a narrow margin for the first time in eight years. Aunt Debbie was understandably livid, and under the influence of large amounts of Uncle Joey’s trademark “Partially Rancid Apple Pie,” she stood on her chair screaming, “I’m looking for a villain in this contest, and I need look no further than you, Casey Schreiner, you messy-haired tree-hugger! Spoiler, I say!” Then she fell to the floor, thus maintaining yet another cherished holiday tradition.

I beg to differ, however. It is not my fault Aunt Aimee won the turkey bake-off. I had no intention of letting the lesser turkey win by any means. Oh, please, Aunt Aimee, you didn’t even take the “Butterball” sticker off.

Uh, Mikey, you might want to lay off that cranberry sauce a little bit. Don’t you remember what happened last year?

And by the way, Aunt Debbie, if you’re looking for a villain, you need look no further than the nearest mirror, which happens to be in the bathroom — the second door on your left. By changing your turkey recipe to a more universally appealing “vanilla flavor,” you effectively left the door wide open for a niche recipe.

Rest assured, family, that a slice of the tofu turkey is not a slice of Aunt Aimee’s turkey. Perhaps if Aunt Debbie had gotten the support of her husband Uncle Greg or the traditional Debbicrat stronghold Uncle Woodrow or our requisite ethnic minority family member Pilar then Senile Great-Uncle Matt’s dinner selection wouldn’t be an issue right now.

No, Grandma, steak is also meat.

Maybe Senile Great-Uncle Matt felt my turkey better represented his taste this year. He ate his conscience — something we should all strive to do. Maybe he was tired of the two-turkey system. Maybe it was a protest meal for the time you keyed his car and blamed it on Aunt Aimee. Maybe he got confused and thought it was a plate of delicious, delicious muffins. We may never know, but we do know this: the tofu turkey is here to stay — it is the will of the people.

Someone might want to call the paramedics — Mikey’s eyes are rolling toward the back of his head and it looks like the martini-dispensing robot is on fire again.

Maybe now that the tofu turkey is here, you and Aimee will spend more time working on cooking delicious turkeys instead of the last-minute monstrosities you disgrace our table with year after year. My turkey sits formless in its own disgusting tofu juices for change: a program I like to call “The 10 Key Values,” which include a ban on soft biscuits, a new non-toxic cranberry sauce policy and more numerous varieties of pies specifically baked for me.

You can key as many cars as you want Aunt Aimee, but the results will not change. And don’t touch my car. I have mace.

Hey kids! Did you enjoy The Pantomime Horse this week? Great, but guess what! There’s a free game inside, too! Wow! Unscramble the first letter of each paragraph to get a special holiday greeting from Casey! Submit your entries to [email protected]! The winner will be announced December 1! Good luck!

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