I had a blast a couple of years ago when I gave myself an excuse to write multiple Thanksgiving chapters into Next Stop Love. There were puns about gravy, lots of food, kitchen dance parties, a good dollop of drama, PLUS one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving: crazy kitchen disasters.
I just find something so great about Thanksgiving mishaps. I mean, is it really Thanksgiving unless something has gone horribly, hilariously wrong? The first Thanksgiving I ever hosted out of my apartment had me solving so many nonsense problems I felt like I’d stumbled into a sitcom. And my favorite family Thanksgiving story is about the time my mom forgot to put any sugar in the pumpkin pie and everyone ate it anyway (piled extra high with whipped cream, of course). To this day we use sweetened condensed milk instead of sugar in the pumpkin pie to prevent such a disaster ever happening again.
And maybe that’s what makes it so great for me–being able to take those mistakes and missteps and turn them into traditions and stories you can retell and laugh about year after year.
Below I’ve included a short excerpt from the Next Stop Love Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving sequence because I just love those chapters so much and I wanted to share. I’d love to hear any crazy holiday stories you still laugh about in the comments!
I hope all you USians have a lovely Thanksgiving tomorrow, served with a side of hilarious, story-fueling mayhem. Don’t forget to add sugar to your pies!
Kinsey answered the door of her parents’ house in a miasma of soap-opera despair. “I hope you all like lasagna, because I’ve ruined the turkey.”
Beatrice could tell Kinsey was playing her freak-out up for laughs, but her dark eyes were just a little too bright, and her eyelashes were damp. Beatrice would’ve given her a hug right then and there, but then Kinsey might end up crying for real. She knew Kinsey wouldn’t want to do that in front of guests. Even if half of them were her best friends.
“I’m sure that’s not true,” Beatrice said, while everyone stashed their shoes against the wall in the entryway and hung up their coats.
“Oh yeah?” Kinsey challenged. She wore a flour-smeared, pink polka-dot apron over her white blouse and flared, fox-print skirt. Her usually immaculate black bob was disheveled, a few flyaways sticking to her forehead. “Come and see.”
She led them through the dining room of the colonial-style house into the spacious kitchen—which did smell a little singed—and marched up to the stove, where sat a large roasting pan covered with aluminum foil. She whisked off the foil with a morbid flourish. “Behold the atrocity that ruined everyone’s Thanksgiving.”
Sasha made a horrified strangled sound before she managed to cut herself off.
It looked like Kinsey had tried to cook the turkey with a flame thrower. Beatrice wouldn’t have believed it was possible to both overcook and undercook a turkey if she hadn’t seen the evidence with her own eyes. Half of the skin was charcoal black, and it was somehow still raw in the middle where Kinsey had cut into it.
“Oh,” Beatrice said, searching desperately for something diplomatic and supportive to say. No one else seemed to dare say anything at all. “My,” she finally said.
“You can all skewer me with pitchforks now,” Kinsey said, slumping into a chair at the small kitchen table and covering her face with her hands.
“Don’t be silly,” Sasha said. “Where would we even find pitchforks on Thanks—ow.”
Sasha rubbed the place where Beatrice’s elbow had just dug into her ribs while Beatrice pulled up a chair next to Kinsey’s.
“You didn’t ruin everything,” Beatrice said. “We still have a load of side dishes. Nath and I brought potatoes and yams and green beans.”
“And lasagna,” Nath drawled unhelpfully.
Beatrice shot him a warning glare. She was trying to cheer Kinsey up, not imply that they had so little faith in her ability to cook a turkey that they’d brought an emergency backup lasagna. Even if the lasagna had been Kinsey’s idea in the first place.
“And we’ve got corn pudding and bread,” Sasha put in. “And pie. Everybody loves pie.”
“And cranberry sauce and cupcakes,” said Julian, his shoulder against the doorjamb. He seemed unsure where he was supposed to fit. He hadn’t even removed his coat. As though he expected to be kicked out into the cold at any moment. He’d gotten along with Nath and Sasha in the car, but even then, he’d been quieter than usual. It made Beatrice nervous. She really, really wanted him to like her friends. And she really, really wanted them to like Julian.
“Cupcakes?” Kinsey echoed, peeking through a gap in her fingers to shoot Julian an incredulous look.
He shrugged. “I’m not a pie person.”
“Heathen!” Sasha exclaimed with a melodramatic gasp.
Julian snorted, lifting an eyebrow at Sasha, who shrugged a cheerful apology.
Kinsey’s head went down on the table, among the mess of dirty mixing bowls and utensils that she and Sasha must have used for the pies and bread before Sasha left to pick the rest of them up. “It doesn’t matter,” she wailed, her voice muffled. “You can’t have Thanksgiving without turkey. Everyone knows that.”
“Vegetarians don’t eat turkey on Thanksgiving,” Nath pointed out.
“I don’t even like turkey that much,” Sasha said.
“That’s a lie, and you know it,” Kinsey said. “Nothing matters if you don’t have the turkey. And I ruined it.”
“I don’t know,” Julian said. He wandered over to the hideous turkey and prodded at it with the carving fork Kinsey had left out. “I think this might be salvageable.”
They all turned to stare at him as one, disbelief written over every face.
“I’m not saying it’s going to be the quintessential, Norman Rockwell, entire Thanksgiving bird you were expecting,” Julian said, rolling his eyes at them. “But I think it can be made to be edible.”
“Setting our expectations high,” said Sasha in grand tones. “But can he follow through?”
“I’m not promising good when I haven’t done it before,” Julian said, shedding his coat and throwing it over a kitchen chair. “But don’t throw the lasagna in the oven until I’ve given this a shot, okay?”
You can pick up Next Stop Love from your favorite retailer here for more Thanksgiving fiascos and romance. (And it’s even on sale until December 5th! Wow!)
Happy Thanksgiving, friends!
Text and images copyright © 2020 by Rachel Stockbridge. Excerpt from Next Stop Love. All Rights Reserved.