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(Disclaimer: This story contains strong language)
Happy Thanksgiving to those of us in the states that celebrate it. Hope you guys are stuffing yourselves silly. I figured due to the title, we look at an actual Thanksgiving story. Most TV shows these days have a Thanksgiving special, and most of them involve sitting around and eating the typical Thanksgiving feast. This story does have that, but it does contains a creepy twist.
Today’s story is Thanksgiving by Jeffrey Ford, as featured in Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine. You can buy it here. You ever have that one person your family knows that mystifies you. You don’t know who he is or why he even know your parents, but he hangs out regardless. Well, this is the case here. Let’s dig in, shall we?
An Unusual Thanksgiving Dinner
Our story focuses on a family eating Thanksgiving together when one of them brings up an Uncle Jake, who would always visit every Thanksgiving and sit with the family. Barely said anything, but that was back when the family had bigger gatherings than they did today. Except none of them had an Uncle Jake. The mystery deepens when they figure out who Uncle Jake is and why he existed among them at all.
They decide that the mysterious man should be evicted from all holiday gatherings, so they trick him to escape his unusual aroma.
While it’s the typical Thanksgiving vibe, it does have a unique take on it. For one, the idea that the family could be in danger differs from the typical family drama and political discussions. It kinda reminded me of an older story I reviewed almost a year ago, called The Weirdo, which also had a supposed crazy guy. While the twist wasn’t as dark or twisted here, it was still an amusing read.
Figuring out a way to not only know who Uncle Jake is to them, but to also avoid any contact with him in case he’s some kind of murderer. It’s humorous, if admittedly kinda cruel. To be fair, we’d probably do the same thing if we found out one of our relatives wasn’t related to any of us.
Growing up, my grandmother on my dad’s side had a friend who would often visit her. When I was super young, I assumed he was my grandfather (I never knew my actual grandfather, or what he even looked like). Not to say he was creepy, but I was curious as to who this man was and how he was related to my family.
I’m sure some people out there had this feeling as well. You know someone in the family, a friend or whoever, but you’re not sure how they’re related. When my parents did that Ancestry thing, we found out of a man named “Leonard.” Turns out, he was a neighbor who happened to be there when the census people came.
Turns out, he was a boxer who ended up getting one of the Help pregnant. It was an interesting turn in our family tree.
Right, the story. Not much to say otherwise. It does differ from most Thanksgiving stories I’ve read, which are more about family relationships, catching a turkey, or a school play about pilgrims and Native Americans. This one was almost like him being some kind of alien since this IS F&SF after all. He could be for all we know.
The family is very personal and feels like the slightly disjointed, but loving family most people know. One curses a lot, while the other insists on violence to solve most problems. It was fun to read their dialog and see how they react to Uncle Jake.
Uncle Jake did sound a little suspicious, but the idea of a family member no one cared to know about amused me. Fifteen years (I think) and no one bothered to ask whose family he was from. This guy just showed up, ate at the dinner table along with everyone else, and left, only to return the next year. I kinda want an Uncle Jake in my life, even if he is a little creepy. You don’t know him, but he’s like family to you. And that’s what stuck out to me.
I mean, Most people could tell who’s who in their family, even if they end up being a long lost relative. But it was kinda heartwarming knowing that some random dude became a family member without anyone being aware. It kinda makes me wish they weren’t paranoid about it. You almost kinda feel sorry for Uncle Jake at the end. That’s how I see it anyway. I mean, I’m sure it isn’t entirely safe to have someone you don’t know visit your house on a regular basis, but it could be a little heartwarming and shows acceptance even with doubt.
If you feel like reading something before or after your Thanksgiving dinner, this would be a good start. I feel in the mood when it comes to holiday stories, especially around the time of that particular season. It’s a good story, and simple enough that it can leave you wanting more.
That’s all for today. Take care, have a Happy Thanksgiving, and remember, the inn is always open.