Amy grew up in a family with divorced parents. After the split, her parents chose to live on the same block, just a few houses away from one another. Amy and her brother Josh could move freely back and forth between their parents. This arrangement was a blessing – mostly.
But Thanksgiving was a nightmare.
It’s bad enough to have to stuff yourself once a year with stuffing, mashed potatoes, turkey (and gravy), green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, and pecan pie…Amy and Josh had to do it twice in one day.
For many years Amy dreaded Thanksgiving Day. Until last year when Amy had her own very new house that she shared with her fiancee Tim.
“Let’s host Thanksgiving dinner this year. We’ll have everyone. Your family, my two families, cousins, friends – everyone and anyone who wants to come.”
Tim was in. The count was an estimated forty people.
Their house was mostly unfurnished, so they rushed around buying, renting, borrowing chairs, and folding tables to prepare for the big day. They even bought a spare fridge for the garage.
Amy was cooking for a week straight, determined to have the right amount of food and sticking to the traditional menus each family preferred. She didn’t leave out a thing.
Thanksgiving came, and the guests started streaming in at about 4:00 p.m. The football game was on the big screen. Folks mixed and mingled, nibbled on crudite, mini-hotdogs in weenie wrap, and iced shrimp platter. Perfect.
Around 5:00, Tim asked everyone to take their seats. His father would say grace.
Grace?!! Amy thought. Prayer before dinner? That was not either of her family’s traditions. Tim comes from a devout Christian family. Amy describes her family as the Fockers from the Ben Stiller movies. They are Jewish and irreverent, and her father would not be upstaged.
Tim’s Dad gave thanks for the food and thanked Jesus for the meal He prepared. Amen
Amy’s Dad shot up like a rocket right after the prayer, and he made a toast. He said the closest thing to a prayer he would ever get to. “L’Chaim!”
Dinner went well. Dessert was rich and plentiful. Thanksgiving was a hit, and Amy relaxed some.
Until she saw her Mom tiptoe into the kitchen where Amy (and Jesus) had just prepared the meal.
“Uh…the toilet doesn’t flush.” Mom said quietly.
Amy rushed into the hall bathroom, yanked a plunger from under the sink, and began madly pumping. It was her turn to pray. Despite her strong and determined efforts, the toilet stubbornly refused to clear. She jumped out of the way of an upcoming overflow, threw a bath towel on the floor, and exited the bathroom, locking the door behind her.
She bumped into Tim in the hall.
“Psst. The den toilet isn’t working.” He whispered.
As it turned out, all 2 1/2 bathrooms were on the fritz, and 40+ guests were milling around anxiously after a huge meal.
“Folks, I have an announcement to make,” Amy shouted above the noise.
“We’re having some plumbing problems…you’re welcome to stay…”
The place cleared out immediately as if someone had shouted FIRE! in a crowded movie theater.
Only Tim and Amy were left after a departure that lasted a record five minutes.
When the front door shut for the last time, the host and hostess with the mostest laughed and laughed until their very full stomachs ached with the irony of a near-perfect close to a near-perfect Thanksgiving.
As told by Amy Terwilliger* at a Palm Beach Post Storytellers Project
* Written as best remembered after attending the show by Susan Diamond