Welcome to a special Thanksgiving edition of the Achenblog! It is special because it is led by a guest host — selected because I met the stringent guest-host criteria of being physically present in the newsroom today — and because it is Thanksgiving, which means that the blog’s usual audience of dozens is busy eating turkey right now, and I might as well stop typing and just whisper these words quietly to myself. But let’s soldier on regardless.

 All around us are stories of genuine thanksgiving, of homecoming miracles, of people coming together to help one another. It is very nice. But that’s not why we’re here. Well, it’s not why I’m here. I have no idea why you’re here. (You know there is football on, yes?)

Anyway, I’m here in the hope that we can use Joel’s blog, already a gloriously eccentric home to random thoughts and musings, to salute the odd, the quirky, the mildly (or even moderately) dysfunctional family holiday memories that have helped make us who we are today: teeth-grinding compulsive eaters who help put our therapists’ kids through Yale.

Because, sure, there is the ideal Thanksgiving — the one that some of our neighbors or friends have, in which they spend the day volunteering at the soup kitchen and then return home to have a perfectly delightful meal and genuinely enjoy one another’s company in a healthy and well-adjusted way that involves a lot of hugging and matching sweaters and profanity-free board game tournaments. But there is also the other Thanksgiving — the one in which your grandma gets snockered on Beaujolais and sings show tunes, which forces your uncle to raise the volume on the “In Living Color” marathon playing on the living room TV, and then your mom decides that a fire would add to the ambiance, but she forgets to open the flue, so smoke billows into the house, and the adults start shouting very bad words and the children think everything is ablaze, so they grab the dog (priorities!) and run out into the yard in their socks where they cry a little and wonder why they weren’t born to any of the seemingly normal families living on the same block. Then one of those children grows up to be a newspaper reporter who writes run-on sentences. So yeah, that is a true story.

Now I want to hear yours. Because, let’s be real, we all like to hear about one another’s ridiculous, mortifying, no-way-that-really-happened family holiday insanity; it’s what we crave around the holidays, which is why we all love the movie about the boy in the Pepto-Bismol-color bunny suit and his father who is obsessed with the hooker-leg lamp. It helps us feel a little less alone in our craziness and maybe even a little grateful for our own wacky stories; they might have caused some mild trauma, but they also make us way more fun to talk to at holiday cocktail parties. And that is something to be thankful for. The holiday cocktail parties, I mean.