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THANKSGIVING DEPRESSION MADE EASY
by: Max Burbank

The key to any really great depression is planning, or as we depressive call it, worrying. Or living through the awful things you know are going to happen before they do. Over and over and over again. A lot of depressives try to 'wing it', and this can be a big mistake, especially for a really major Depressive holiday like Thanksgiving. Remember: A hostage stand off is a sign of rage disorder - the lazy, violent man's depression. Serious melancholia deserves respect, respect is the bi-product of control, control is the house of cards destined to collapse, just as you knew it would. Are we ready? Good. Let's go.

EARLY PLANNING
It's not 'never too early' to start planning a really major Thanksgiving depression. The day after Thanksgiving is, in fact, too early. If you get out of bed at all the day after Thanksgiving, you had a really amateur depression, and even a full year of training isn't going to be enough to make next year different. You might want to work up to it by way of being really depressed about Arbor Day. The same goes for the entire week after Thanksgiving, which really counts as sort of depressive limbering up for Christmas. I like to begin working on Thanksgiving in the lull between the suicide ideation of New Year's and the hopeless acceptance of lifelong loneliness that is Valentine's Day.

TAKE CONTROL IN FEBRUARY!
While it's certainly possible to have a really great depression at someone else's house, you'll always wonder if some of it wasn't really their fault. A great depression often begins with blame, but without self-loathing, there's no money shot. So early February is the time to stake your claim to hosting Thanksgiving. A series of phone calls is a good opening salvo, but I like to work out an email schedule. Remind folks at least once a month for the first six months, twice a month for the next two and then weekly after that. Tell them if they want to bring something that's fine, but they need to commit no later than late May. The early stages of planning a Depressive Thanksgiving are almost identical to the "OCD" or "Anal Retentive" Thanksgiving, but it's a surface resemblance. They think their celebrations will go well if only they plan and prepare well enough! Deep down, you already know your festivities will be a bloody train wreck.

DURING MUD SEASON, NURSE GRIEVANCES
Take the time to go over every real and imagined family slight or snub thrown your way during the course of your entire life. This is also a great way to make a guest list. The larger the grievance the more you need to tell yourself that, via this Thanksgiving, you'll demonstrate how you've risen above the hurt. A lot of people skimp on this step, certain it will take care of itself during the daily commute, or while trying desperately to fall asleep each night, but remember; the higher the hopes, the further the fall.

SUMMER IS FOR FORGETTING
This may seem surprising, but it's a key element. When the weather gets nice, forget about it! If you're feeling particularly brave, you could even 'forget' to send a passive aggressive 'reminder' about Thanksgiving to all your guests. Why? Simple. Every coin has two sides. If you don't have a few weeks of feeling a little bit better than you usually do, how much will the crushing ruin of all your Thanksgiving hopes and dreams really be?

THE PRE-SEASON:
SEPTEMBER REMEMBER
September begins with love and ends with fear. Spend the first couple of weeks thinking about how much you miss your family, how great it's going to be seeing them all again, how much they'll love your children if you've made any, your home if you have one, your many accomplishments, because really, just getting by in today's world is something of an accomplishment, right? Getting out of bed, paying the bills, trying to make your shitty little shelter look like some place happy people live, not screaming at your significant other just for having self-esteem low enough to share their lives with you no matter how temporarily... those are things that deserve admiration in this day and age, don't you think? Do you see where I'm going with this? By the third week in September you should be asking your therapist over and over why he/she thought you could handle hosting Thanksgiving, why didn't they stop you? When they ask why you feel like you can't do it, cry.

OCTOBER SURPRISE
Halloween is for happy, normal, overachieving, functional bastards, which you are clearly not. For you, October is about one thing and one thing only: Cleaning House. Okay, two things if you're married: Cleaning House and Threats of Divorce. Somehow you spent an entire year not noticing that your house is where that guy who played Trapper John MD shoots his commercials for "Save the Children". If you had a pot big enough, you'd boil the whole damn place, and you know what? It wouldn't be enough.

EARLY NOVEMBER
Choose a menu that any child could see was beyond your abilities. A great time to do this is 3:45 am, November 1st. Having abandoned all hope of sleep, though your body aches from trick-or-treating with children so ungrateful they wouldn't give up one lousy Halloween of their lives to help scrub the baseboard heaters, gear up with a pot of coffee and the return of an old friend - smoking. If you've never smoked before, now's the time! Amphetamines are an option, but only for experienced Depressive Pro. Remember! It's Thanksgiving we're trying to make depressing, not the lengthy period of incarceration an amphetamine-based family gathering killing spree. How many of us have learned that one the hard way?

If you're going to buy a fresh turkey, reserve one now. Right now. Or don't, it's up to you, I'm sure it won't be too late by the time you do. Seriously, who are you kidding, get frozen. Just remember that you need to thaw it in the fridge for four days prior to cooking. Or five. I think it's five. It doesn't really matter, the cooking will take care of any salmonella that gets going. As long as you cook it long enough. Which is important, but simple. Take the number of guests you'll have, and multiply it by 1.75. That's the number of pounds your Turkey should be once thawed. To get the thawed weight, take the number of pounds frozen, divided by .34, and add the weight of the butter, herbs and any stuffing you plan to cook with the Turkey. Take this number, multiply times 1.998 and that's the number of hours you need to cook it at 375 degrees in a preheated oven. And you need to factor in your altitude above sea level. It's okay to cry. You'll be doing a lot of it.

You need to call everyone on your list and figure out which side dishes they feel are necessary to Thanksgiving. Almost everyone thinks that if you don't have whatever side dish they've developed a fetish based on, then it isn't Thanksgiving and they'll be happy to tell you right to your face during dinner, so it's good to know. What you do with the information is where the creativity comes in. Will slavishly attempting to make everyone's favorite dish make you truly miserable? Than go for it! Is it more of a slight to exclude someone's favorite dish, or deliberately prepare it poorly? This is YOUR depression! Make the most of it.

Assign the kids the task of making an attractive centerpiece. This will allow you to be shocked and devastated when the day before Thanksgiving you realize it looks like a piece of crap. I mean, come on, they're kids, what the hell were you thinking? Was it a good idea to let a five-year-old work with a hot glue gun? And if that mangled lump of garbage is as close as they could get to a cornucopia with half a month to prepare, who the FUCK is going to do the ice sculpture!? You, that's who. Just like everything else. Make sure your kids know just how much they let you down. It'll feel great while you're doing it, but right afterwards, I think you'll be surprised just how much their big, wet, anime puppy eyes bring you down. Mmmmmm, THAT's depressing!

THE FINAL WEEK
Where is your spouse? If you've been doing this right, they're hiding. Maybe in the basement, maybe at the corner bar, maybe in Aruba by now. Did they mention something about going out to the 7-Eleven for cigarettes? What day was that? Seriously, don't push the most important person in your life too hard. Keep perspective. The looming threat of divorce the moment your last guest leaves may be less showy than trying to explain to the grandparents why mom or dad isn't in the house let alone coming to carve the bird, but it's not as good a motivator.

It's good to spend the last couple of days reassuring your family that all their work has been worth it. All the food is bought, if nobody bathes or eats or moves the house will stay reasonably clean, you've scheduled every instant of the actual day. Everything is going to be fine. Smooooooth sailing. This way, when you go straight up mental the night before, it will scare everyone much, much more. And that will make you feel guilty and resentful. And what do guilt and resentment combined make? That's right. Depression. Good job.

THANKSGIVING
Before the sun rises, give up smoking. No one in your family must know you've been doing three packs a day for a month. It will be much, much better for everyone if instead of knowing you've slid back into one of your filthy self-destructive habits, they just get to witness your clinical withdrawal. Remember, many scientists believe nicotine is every bit as addictive as heroin. Ever seen a junky jonesing? It's very depressing! And it's even more depressing to be one! You'll see!

Make sure you're as horrible as possible to your kids and spouse before the guests get here. It will be a freaky, nerve-wracking contrast to how incredibly sweet you are to them from the moment the guests arrive. If the transition itself doesn't rattle them enough, you can always shoot them the hairy eyeball whenever no one is looking, or hiss obscenities under your breath when passing them on your way to and from the kitchen. That way, they'll know you're totally nuts.

If everything has gone according to plan, the Turkey is either over or under cooked, some of the side dishes are missing or burned, the red wine is chilled and the white inexplicably heated and the ice sculpture looks like the upper fifth of a turkey and two pilgrims struggling to free themselves from a glacier.

This is the moment you've worked all year for, and it's almost here. Someone at the table, hopefully a really old person will say it.

"I think before we eat, we should all take a moment and say what we're thankful for."

And that's when you'll feel the fruits of your labor, as a crushing tidal wave of empty, pointless, bitter despair washes over you. A magnificent Thanksgiving Depression! And what you do next will be all about who you truly are. Cry and rage, cry and tear open your shirt, smear gravy over your naked chest, cry and sink under the table clutching feebly at the legs of your loved ones. Cry and beg for the sweet release of death, howl like a monkey and bury your head in the turkey cavity where they stored the giblets, it's all up to you.

You earned it! Enjoy! This is where the memories get made.

Happy Turkey Day! Gobble Gobble!


If you enjoyed this piece, be sure to check out:


Time To Be Thankful Again



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