Ah, Thanksgiving. At its best, it's filled with good conversation, great food, laughter, gratitude, and family bonding. At its worst, it's a disaster, rife with awkward conversation, toxic passing comments, pushy mother-in-laws, and sibling arguments. We don't always know how it starts, but one way or another, somebody always ends up in a fight.
Every family has had at least one story of a Thanksgiving that went wrong. Maybe your parents thought it was the best time to announce their divorce, or you saw your Aunt Karen kissing the next-door neighbour, or Grandpa Joe finally lost his mind and tried to cook a toaster. Whatever happened, it's a story worth sharing. Just remember, it's not necessary to be embarrassed by your personal Thanksgiving disaster—we've all been there.
Don't forget to check the comment section below the article for more interesting stories!
#1 Grandma Got Run Over By...
My grandmother ran over herself with her SUV. I was on my way to the festivities when it happened, so I don't know the exact details, but she was getting food out from the back of her SUV, put it in neutral instead of park, and it slowly ran her over. The craziest part is that my family, who were all inside, didn't notice until they heard a bump against the house. The SUV made three loops before hitting the house. She ended up being fine, but she isn't allowed to go outside alone anymore on holidays. This story is now an "Oh, Grandma!" moment in our family.
#2 Curing Bali Belly
My mom once took over the Thanksgiving dinner table conversation to talk about how everyone should be drinking their own urine. For a solid 45 minutes. She said that she read in a yoga book that it cures stomach infections, like "Bali Belly", when people travel, but it's actually just really helpful for all sorts of stuff. She went way into detail, like about how you have to catch it midstream first thing in the morning. By the end, she was defending it so thoroughly she said she was going to start tomorrow morning. She never did and now denies the conversation lasted more than five minutes and claims that everyone was egging her on.
#3 Melty Turkey
I thought that it would be a funny prank to put a rubber chicken in the oven on Thanksgiving Day and that my mom would find it hilarious. "Ho ho ho, there's a rubber chicken in the oven, what a gag." Unfortunately, 13-year-old me didn't realize that adults normally preheat the oven in the morning before putting the turkey in. You can guess what happened to the rubber chicken.
#4 Bad Boot Trick
My cousin tried showing us something called "the boot trick" once. It was a way to get the cork out of a bottle of wine without a corkscrew. You put the bottom of the bottle in your shoe and hit it against the wall and it's supposed to get the cork out. Well, he was confident it worked, so he gathered us all outside on my aunt's driveway to show us the trick. He put the bottle of wine in his shoe, hit the shoe to the wall, and the entire bottle shattered. His shoes were absolutely drenched in red wine after that.
#5 Understanding Firemen
My grandparents had a new oven and my grandmother had never made a turkey in it before. The turkey drippings somehow caught fire and the kitchen filled up with smoke. We called 9-1-1, but by the time the fire department arrived, my dad and grandfather had put out the fire. They were really nice and understanding but my grandmother was mortified. My aunt also tried hitting on all of the firemen even though she had a good 25-30 years on them. My cousin and I just stood in the front yard in silence, watching it all play out. Somehow, the turkey was absolutely fine and dinner proceeded normally once everything settled down.
#6 Crying Over A Dollar Sign
I was at my friend’s conservative family’s house for Thanksgiving and his older brother had decided that while everyone was gathered around the dinner table, it would be a good time to tell his parents that their youngest son (my friend) had gotten a tattoo. His parents were so mad that they forced him to show them the tattoo. When they saw that it was a dollar sign on his left butt cheek, they were in tears.
#7 Fear Him!
One year, after a very big Thanksgiving Day dinner, my dad broke my grandparents' toilet with the power of his bowels. It was so bad that he ended up having to buy them a whole new toilet. But guess what? He broke the second one a year later at Christmas with the same method. He hasn't yet broken a third one, but that's probably because we're not invited to anyone's house for holidays anymore.
#8 Dumpster Bird Fire
One Thanksgiving, I heard someone screaming from outside of my apartment. I was terrified, but I opened the door and saw this lady running as fast as she could to the dumpster—still screaming—with a turkey still in the pan. It was on fire. She threw it into the dumpster, which then also caught fire. The flames were huge! I called 9-1-1 so the fire department could put it out. That was one memorable Thanksgiving.
#9 The Floor, The Bird, The Legend
We had planned a Thanksgiving that was meant to be special. We invited double the amount of people we normally invited. Once everyone arrived, my mother brought out a seriously large turkey. She'd been slow cooking it all day. It was going to be the highlight of the day and everyone was looking forward to it. Fast forward a couple of hours and the turkey was out of the oven and was being carved. It looked and smelled delicious.
The table was set and everyone was ready to eat. Everyone was sitting down at the table, passing around mashed potatoes and talking about whatever. My mom brought the turkey from the kitchen into the dining room. She drops the turkey platter. It shattered; turkey and porcelain shards littered the floor. She put so much work into this turkey, so we decided to use the five-second rule and pick what we could off of the floor and eat it. We managed to salvage most of it. Some of us had shards of porcelain on our plates but it wasn't a big deal. The turkey was as good as it promised to be and now it's known as the legendary floor bird.
#10 Narrowly-Avoided Cannibalism
My mom bought a new stove and had me, my brother, his very pregnant girlfriend, and a few others over for Thanksgiving. About a half-hour before the turkey was supposed to be done, my mom checked on it. It was still raw. Turns out, she had hit the wrong button when programming the new stove and accidentally shut it off. Luckily, we learned that you can in fact microwave a turkey. It was just in time too because, judging from the look that was on my brother’s pregnant girlfriend's face, she was ready to eat my mom.
#11 Such A Thing As "Too Clean"
One Thanksgiving, I was tasked with cleaning the house and making sure it was perfect before the guests arrived. I had spent all day cleaning, and I especially made sure that the windows were incredibly clear. My little brother and cousin were chasing each other outside at the time. My brother ran through the door which was clearly open because you couldn’t see the gla—uh oh.
He slammed through the plate glass window and got a massive gash on his face and leg. Eighty stitches, plastic surgery, and a multiple-day hospital stay later, he was fine. But I learned my lesson and I will never clean my windows that well again.
#12 Watch Out For The Police, Dear
My cousin stole a four-wheeler from a police dispatcher and left it in our yard. He told us that he and a buddy would come back later to get it because it was out of gas. My mom sent me to the grocery store that morning to pick up a few things, and when I was on my way back, she called me to warn me not to speed because the police were all over our road. We lived on a farm on a mile-long country road. We were the only house on it. The police took our statements and retrieved the ATV. What an eventful Thanksgiving.
#13 Hurled To Save A Life
My four-year-old sister was sitting at the dinner table next to our grandma. After taking a bite of something, she said, "My tongue hurts," to which Grandma replied, "Well come here and let me kiss it to make it feel better." The moment their lips touched, my sister hurled directly into my grandma's mouth. My dad burst into laughter and my grandma left the room to clean herself up. Not more than five seconds after she left, a two-square-foot chunk of the ceiling caved in and fell directly onto her chair. Talk about lucky.
#14 Prayer Answered: No!
When I was a little kid, I asked to say the prayer at the Thanksgiving dinner table. It was a big honor to get to say it. My family was notorious for fighting so I said my little prayer all nice and cute, and then I ended with a smart, "God please let my family act normal today and not fight." Before I could blink my German grandmother slapped me across the face really hard which made my mother very, very angry. Lots of yelling and fighting ensued and then we left. I guess my prayer wasn't answered after all.
#15 Talking With Him In Person
My great grandmother passed away at the table right as we were bowing our heads to pray on Thanksgiving. She had been slowly dwindling in health, so the whole family gathered together as we figured it was her last Thanksgiving. Little did we know how right we were. Her kids, their kids, their kids' kids—about 20 people were all sat at the dinner table with her. The food was set on the table and as we bowed our heads to pray before we dig in, we all opened our eyes to find our great-grandma slumped over with her tongue lolling out. As someone started compressions and another person called an ambulance, my youngest cousin dug into her meal completely unaffected. It's a very interesting Thanksgiving memory.
#16 The Importance Of Proper Phrasing
If someone says, "pass the dinner rolls" in front of my dad, he will pick it up and throw it at them. Every. Single. Year. You have to specifically say, "Please hand me the dinner rolls," or you get a bun thrown at your head. It's not exactly a horrible Thanksgiving incident, but it is definitely an interesting Thanksgiving tradition. We just have to remember to warn guests before they come over.
#17 Doesn't Taste Right
So, 25 years ago, my son was born in early November. During Thanksgiving, my brother took my two-week-old son out of the room to check his diaper during dinner. He came back with the diaper in hand and said it didn't look right. He proceeded to smell it and said that something was wrong. So he tasted it. Everyone flipped out. He had filled a clean diaper with pumpkin pie filling.
#18 On Pain Of Death
I was probably six or seven at the time. My mom’s candles caught the kitchen curtains and some decorative greenery on fire. My sister and my cousins and I were at the “kid’s table” in the kitchen while the adults were in the dining room, so no one took notice—except for me. Earlier, my mom had threatened us with "the pain of death" if we annoyed the adults during dinner, so I quietly walked to the dining room and stood silently for a minute or two, until someone noticed me. Only then did I politely say, “Sorry, but the kitchen’s on fire.” My mom still gives me grief about my prioritizing politeness over sense.
#19 Everyone's Out!
I was only a toddler when this happened, but one year, my mother, father, and uncle outed one another as substance users at the dinner table! Thanksgiving is now known as the anniversary of when our family life went very downhill. Life fell apart fairly rapidly the year after they all outed each other, and Thanksgiving has been better ever since. The holiday is now just a small family affair of myself, my brother, and my grandparents.
#20 Worth Laughing Over
I was having a farting contest with my cousin in the bathroom. She let out one of those ones that ends in an upturned squeak like her butt was meekly asking me a question. I lost it and threw my head back in laughter, and when my head came back down, it went straight into the granite countertop. I split my forehead open and had to go to the ER for stitches.
In the ER, one of the nurses asked how I cut my forehead and I told her I was laughing at a fart. She laugh-farted in response. I was 11, so obviously it was the funniest thing that had ever happened to me. Anyway, I’m 30 now and still have that stupid scar right between my eyebrows and sometimes I remember how I ruined Thanksgiving like 20 years ago and then a nurse farted and I laughed.
#21 Painting Ruined
My oldest sister called my youngest sister a "witch" over some stupid fight they had been having for years. After hearing what she had said, my youngest sister picked up the bowl of green bean casserole that was on the table and threw it at her. She missed (it wasn’t that far, but I guess she was really angry and that messed up her aim), and it ended up hitting my mother's favorite painting. It wasn’t salvageable. We all stopped having Thanksgiving with the entire family after that.
#22 Not A Jolly Giant
One Thanksgiving, my aunt, who was a very hefty woman, decided to wear an all-green outfit. At the time, a canned vegetable company called Green Giant had an ad campaign going. My cousin and I were walking through the carport and she rounded the corner coming towards us. The entire family heard my cousin say, "Ho ho ho" and me chime in perfectly with, "Green Giant."
There was about a second and a half where the world was totally silent. I swear even the birds stopped singing. Then, laughter started. My entire family just fell apart laughing, except for my aunt. She started swinging and we took off running.
One year, while we were all sitting around the dinner table ready to eat the gorgeous meal my mom had made, my dad accidentally spilled his big glass of red wine right into the freshly carved turkey meat that was sitting in front of him. Now, every time he finishes carving the turkey at Thanksgiving, we ask him if he would like to marinate it first or just have it plain.
#24 Almost Starved The Exchange Student
My family had a Thai exchange student stay with us during Thanksgiving one year. Thanksgiving is huge in our family. We're talking more than 35 people at dinner, tons of food, appetizers out the wazoo, etc. And this was going to be the Thai exchange student's first and only Thanksgiving, so we really played up how exciting it was. We told her that there was going to be a ton of food, so don't eat a big breakfast! Save room for the amazing Thanksgiving food!
Well, she ended up not eating anything at all on Wednesday or Thursday morning and fainted in my uncle's living room on Thanksgiving Day. She didn't even eat any appetizers. Turns out, she didn't know what that word meant and didn't know that she was allowed to eat the food that was spread out all over the coffee table and bar.
We almost had to take her to the emergency room because her English wasn't quite good enough to explain why she fainted and we thought something was seriously wrong. After all that, she ended up not even liking the food.
#25 Fried Mother
One year, for whatever reason, my mother thought it was a good idea to drop a frozen turkey into a fryer. Bad idea. It sprayed hot oil about 20 feet into the air. Fortunately, I was standing behind my mother and all of the kids were far enough away that they didn't get hit. The turkey was still pretty good even after being rewarmed after getting back from the ER with minor injuries.
#26 Turkey Too Good For Them
One Thanksgiving, my older brother took over cooking duties. He had just graduated from culinary school and was an amazing chef. My aunt and cousins came over to find a juicy turkey and amazing sides. Well, my aunt likes her turkey burned, apparently, and she made her family not eat the dinner because the turkey wasn't to her liking. They all watched us eat instead. My mom was so angry that they weren't invited back to our house for years.
#27 No Regrets
I have three sisters, all much older than me, so they were always far ahead of me in life. They all had houses, children, and careers well before me. I cannot have children, which they did not know. We were at the Thanksgiving table and things were tense about me not yet having kids. They're all nasty jerks and I was just waiting for an insult. They began talking about me not having children and I said that my husband and I were in the process of adopting. My oldest sister said, "That's not really having children." I punched her. I don't regret it.
#28 No Pan, No Bag, No Trashcan
The glass pan that my mom was using to cook the turkey in exploded. My dad had to spend a long time cleaning glass shards out of the oven. When he gathered them all, he put them into a plastic trash bag and it melted. Literally, everything was going wrong. He ended up getting so angry that he kicked the trash can, which destroyed it.
#29 Improper Bodyslam Technique
My 10-year-old brother decided that it was a good idea to demonstrate to our cousins how to properly body slam yourself onto a bed. He proceeded to hit his head on the windowsill behind the bed and cracked his head open. Unsurprisingly, my cousin passed out. A trip to the ER and fifteen stitches later, we were finally able to eat dinner.
#30 Gotta Watch Merle
We had all of the food out in the kitchen at my aunt's house. We were all in the living room and heard a commotion. Merle, my cousin's boyfriend's huge yellow lab, had helped himself to the turkey. He had pulled it from the table onto the floor. It has been almost 14 years since this happened, but I still give big Merle the side-eye when we eat around him!
#31 Not The Ham!
Our holidays were spent at our granddad’s house. One year, we were inside the house watching some corny Thanksgiving movie when we heard a crash and someone screaming. We all went outside to see my two cousins, who were sisters, fighting on the ground while one of our next-door neighbors was standing over them laughing. Turns out, they were both hooking up with him and they didn’t know it until that day. The biggest tragedy was that the cause of the crash was the grill toppling over. We were smoking a ham on it. I was so mad.
#32 Greasy Snow
One Thanksgiving, we decided to deep-fry the turkey and it went off without a hitch. My dad (after a few drinks) decided he wanted to cool down the grease by putting it into a plastic five-gallon bucket in the snow. Cut to a few hours later and the bucket had exploded. We had gone through like four or five big bags of kitty litter to try and soak up all the grease. I've never seen snow look so disgusting.
#33 Pizza for Dinner
On year, we left my one aunt in charge of cooking the turkey. Fast forward a couple of hours and we were all in the living room playing cards when someone said, "Wait, why don't we smell the turkey?" Yep, she completely forgot to turn on the oven and let the turkey sit there for about five hours with no heat. We had pizza that year. She won't make that mistake again.
#34 What If He Wants More?!
One of my family members flipped out in front of her mother's side of the family because her sibling served salsa to their cousin in "a bowl that is too small." She exclaimed, "What if he wants more?!" She took her kids, they promptly left the dinner table and didn't come back for the rest of Thanksgiving. They left in a huff. With them gone, everything was much better for the rest of the day.
#35 Target Hit
One Thanksgiving, I played paintball with my family. My uncle had a receding hairline which left a portion of his head exposed just above his face mask. I took a shot that nailed that portion directly in its center. It was such a perfect shot that it made a circular cut in his scalp. He was fine, but now he has this faint ring of white scar tissue in the center of his face that you can see in the sheen of the light glinting off his balding head.
#36 All Life Is Precious!
I used to live in Florida when I was younger. My grandfather had the deep fryer out on their back porch preparing to deep fry our turkey when a lizard climbed inside and got stuck. My grandmother was screaming at my grandfather in front of all our family that he could not kill it. We ended up forgoing the turkey and eating just the appetizers that everyone had made. My dad, in true dad fashion, filmed the entire event. We love to re-watch that family video every Thanksgiving.
#37 Dad Blew Up
My dad had an allergic reaction to shrimp cocktail before dinner and his face blew up. He refused to come out of the kitchen or sit at the table with us. He just ate his food in the kitchen and tried to act like things were normal, like yelling out, “Hey, good mashed potatoes this year, huh?”
Meanwhile, my mom was angry crying at the table, telling us to just eat our food that she worked all day on. All of us kids were very scared and very confused. My sister starts crying because things are so weird and no one wants to eat because there is so much tension. Eventually, my mom convinced my dad that she needed to take him to the ER.
#38 Gravy Lake
My family's friend, who isn't from the U.S., was celebrating her first American Thanksgiving with us and she didn't realize that the gravy boat wasn't attached to the tray. As she picked it up, the gravy spilled all over. Her plate was like a lake. Whenever she comes back to the U.S. we laugh about it with her. Her brother was also fascinated with our fridge and microwave and actually whipped out a tape measure.
#39 Painting In Red
Our dog and the smaller dog we were fostering at the time were pestering my mom all morning while she was making the turkey. To distract them while we ate, she gave them each a chew bone. We were ten minutes into dinner when the foster dog stole the other dog’s bone and got a nip to the ear for it. Then it all got worse. As he shook his head, there were red splatters all up the walls.
We tried to catch him, but he kept running around the house, shaking his head and leaving red stains everywhere. I finally grabbed hold of him and tried to apply pressure with my hands, a napkin, a towel—we tried to tape a bandage to his ear, to no avail. The house is a macabre Jackson Pollack painting, and my mom ran to the store to get literally whatever they had to wrap his ear. We put the foster dog in a crate to try to contain it all and we started to clean up the floor. It’s then that we realized my mom’s then-boyfriend is still at the head of the table, calmly eating his Thanksgiving dinner.
#40 Burnt Oven, Raw Turkey
A couple of years ago, my brother-in-law set the oven on fire. He had pulled the turkey out of the oven to check the temperature. It still had a ways to go, so back in it went, except he pushed the pan, not the oven rack. It tilted back and spilled grease which caught fire in a most spectacular fashion. Roaring flames and smoke filled the room. My mom, being the quick thinker she is, put the fire out quickly without having to use a fire extinguisher. The kicker? The turkey was still undercooked when all was said and done.
#41 Thanksgiving Turkey Leads To Christmas Gifts
Our terrible oven went into self-cleaning mode and locked itself somehow while my mother’s turkey she had worked so hard on was inside. The oven then turned itself up to about 500 degrees to begin the cleaning process and burned our turkey to a crisp. After realizing what was going on, my mother began pounding on the glass and yelling like that was going to solve the problem. Fortunately, my father was able to jimmy the lock open with a screwdriver. The oven wouldn’t turn off, so we just left the door half open and let it finish cooking. Needless to say, my mom was able to get all new appliances for Christmas.
#42 Undermined Himself
One Thanksgiving, my grandfather was trying to put his foot down and get my cousins to listen to him at the dinner table during mealtime. He exclaimed, “I’m the intimate authority!” He had meant to say that he was the "ultimate authority." We all burst out in laughter and he was definitely not happy about it. That undermined any authority that he was trying to establish with us. Oh well.
#43 Thanksgiving Wrecks
One year, we had a giant family gathering and the host's house was on an extremely popular street that has a speed limit of 50 miles per hour. We were eating turkey when we heared loud slams and car alarms. We went outside to see that all of our cars were completely trashed. Our family's car was at the end because we were late. We had only a small dent and a lot of scratches. However, out of our family's eleven vehicles, only two were drivable. The rest were totaled.
We found out a couple of months later that one of the host's friends got completely inhebriated and decided to drive his large 4x4 Ford truck, slamming all of our cars in the process. The host never told the police and forgave the driver because he was a close friend. He hit my grandpa's van so hard the roof was curved inwards in a giant "V".
#44 But, You Loved It...
Growing up I was a picky eater, so my family would lovingly make me a bowl of green jello—my favourite at the time—every single Thanksgiving. Over the years, that bowl of green jello showed up, and over the years my tastebuds changed. I no longer needed it made “especially for me.” Fast forward to my first small Thanksgiving with just my wife and I in our first house. I sat down at the table with a big grin on my face and happily said, “Finally a Thanksgiving with no green jello made especially for me.” At that exact moment, my wife put down a large bowl of green jello and said, “Your mother called... she said you loved it.”
#45 Not A Poor Boy From A Poor Family
My cousin went through a phase where he would only wear one beat-up outfit all year to school. He looked homeless, and apparently, the teachers thought so too. One year, the teachers pooled together and got him a turkey so his family could have a decent Thanksgiving. His family was well-off, but he just looked like they needed support because he wouldn't wear anything else. Well, seven-year-old me found out about the teacher's turkey donation (unbeknownst to everyone else) and I decided to say in the middle of holiday dinner, “Kevin, I heard about the turkey.” Everyone lost it, and now for the last 15 years, everyone reminds him multiple times every season that we have all “heard about the turkey.” He started wearing other clothes after that.