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As I ponder all I have to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, the classic list runs through my mind: family, friends, health, my job, a warm house, a car – all the common answers people give to the traditional “what’s one thing you are thankful for?” question.

You know the drill.

Everyone sits around the Thanksgiving table, and the food is held ransom until all have chimed in. And if Uncle Bob doesn’t make his remarks shorter than last year, the mashed potatoes will need reheating.

They might anyway, depending on who’s saying grace.

By the way, there are many types of grace-sayers at Thanksgiving, with two extremes:

1. There’s what I call the “Pa Kettle,” after the character from the 1940s and 50s “Ma and Pa Kettle” movies.

“Much obliged,” Pa utters at the start of every family meal, glancing to Heaven and tipping his hat before digging in.

2. Then there’s “the Linus,” after the Peanuts character who stands up and gives a whole speech in “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.”

Fortunate for the mashed potatoes, my father, who is usually the one to pray before Thanksgiving dinner at my house, falls somewhere in between Linus and Pa but closer to Pa.

I mean no disrespect; I hold Thanksgiving and all its traditions dear, including the practice of sharing what we’re thankful for. But why do we do that right before the meal, when the food is going to get cold?

I refuse to be responsible for cold turkey (and did I mention mashed potatoes?), so this year, I began contemplating the question early. When my turn comes at Thanksgiving dinner, I’ll be ready. I know what I’m thankful for.


They say it’s the best medicine. If that’s true, no one in my family should ever be sick for long, because we have plenty of laughter.

Aside from my parents, the two people who first taught me to laugh were my great aunt, Lettie Kell and her brother, my great uncle, Eddie Kell. Both are many years deceased, but once in a while, a memory of one or both of them resurfaces and I can’t help but laugh out loud.

Uncle Eddie was always full of jokes and pranks. He gave me a joke book that’s still one of my prized possessions. And Aunt Lettie was full of plain silliness. She made up silly songs and sang them to my brother and I when we were little. She even made up a silly word: “nutsibooism.” It refers to the practice of medicinal laughter.

Maybe there’s someone reading this who could use a little nutsibooism today amid the stress and anxiety that often accompany the holiday. In honor of Uncle Eddie and Aunt Lettie, who always arrived at family gatherings such as Thanksgiving dinner armed with an arsenal of quips, here are 10 Thanksgiving jokes.

1. What do you wear to Thanksgiving dinner? A har-vest.

2. Did you hear the secret about the turkey? It’s really juicy.

3. Why was the Thanksgiving turkey arrested? The police suspected fowl play.

4. What do you call a turkey on the day after Thanksgiving? Lucky.

5. What did the baby corn say to the mama corn? Where’s popcorn?

6. What kind of music did the pilgrims listen to? Plymouth Rock.

7. What did the Thanksgiving turkey bring to band practice? Drumsticks.

8. Why do absolutists dislike Thanksgiving? There are too many relatives.

9. You know you overdid it at Thanksgiving when the Tupperware shouts, “where are the leftovers?”

10. My family begged me to stop telling Thanksgiving jokes. I told them I couldn’t quit cold turkey.

Feel free to use these today to break the tension at your own family gathering. But wait until everyone has swallowed their food.

I wouldn’t want anyone to choke on those reheated mashed potatoes.

Contact the writer:; 570-348-9185, ext. 3492