Thanksgiving’s my favorite holiday. But it’s easy to remember one that ranks as the worst. Seems like it happened yesterday, insteada twenty-six years ago.
- Hard to believe it happened in America’s Paradise – on the island of St. Croix.
- Harder to believe is happened at a luxury hotel – Hotel on the Cay, which sits on its own island in the middle of Christiansted Harbor.
- Hardest to believe – my favorite daughter and favorite son orchestrated the fiasco.
Locals, as we were at the time, use the Cay for recreational and entertainment purposes:
- I played volleyball on that beach many times.
- Loved to wade knee-deep in the warm tropical water, watch the angel fish weaving in and out of my legs.
- Attended a lavish Christmas party there.
- Dove into the water to start America’s Paradise Triathlon the year I participated.
My day starts with a five-mile run.
Drive out East. Park at Divi Beach. Run along a picturesque course. Along the beach, up and down hills, around twists and turns in the road, all the while overlooking the sparkling Caribbean.
Drive home. Grab a beer. Hop in the shower. Grab a beer. Get dressed. Meet the kids. Grab a beer for the ride into town.
My traditional Thanksgiving dinner consists of white-meat turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, a vegetable or two, and pumpkin pie. The most important item is, was, and will always be white-meat turkey.
Repeat: white-meat turkey.
So off we go to the Hotel on the Cay.
Making this Thanksgiving dinner more special is the fact I’m sharing it with my two favorite children – favorite daughter Stevie and favorite son Ed.
Making it a party of five are Stevie’s boyfriend Matt and Ed’s girlfriend Gia. Both of whom would wind up becoming the parents of my two favorite grandchildren Zack (my spelling, not his) and Allie.
We drive into town. Take the ferry across to Protestant Cay, takes about two minutes wharf to wharf.
Enter the restaurant, pay. Beat the rush, not that busy.
A hostess seats us, a waiter comes around for our drink order. Now, between you and me, I don’t give a shit about drinks at this point. I just ran five miles and drank three beers. My stomach’s growling and my blood-sugar’s low. I want white-meat turkey ASAP.
But the rest of my party sees it differently. They order a bottle of wine, tell me to sit tight.
I’m getting testy as hell, eye-balling the buffet:
- White-meat turkey.
- Dark-meat turkey.
- Roast beef.
- Mashed potatoes
- Cranberry sauce
- Buncha desserts.
Twenty minutes later, the kids order another bottle of wine.
“Are you shittin’ me?”
They tell me to relax. But I can’t now, because – pardon my French – it’s too fucking late. I look at the buffet table. No white-meat turkey left.
I look around, see a rush of people still coming in, paying. So I flag down the maître-d.
“You’re outta white meat,” I tell him.
He tells me he knows.
“When are ya gonna bring some more out?”
He starts hemming and hawing … some shit about turkeys in the oven … be ready soon.
Sounds like bullshit to me.
“How many turkeys ya got in the oven?”
He’s not sure.
“How long until I see white meat on the table?”
“Are you fuckin’ shittin’ me? You underestimated how many people would show up for dinner, and ran out of turkey. But you’re still charging people – full price – to come in for dinner even though you’re out of fuckin’ white-meat.”
More hemming and hawing.
I’m pissed at the Hotel on the Cay, pissed at the kids, pissed at myself for not digging into the white-meat as soon as we first walked in.
The maître-d tries to kiss my ass with a complimentary bottle of champagne.
“You think this makes up for it?”
Another complimentary bottle of champagne.
I eat some roast beef and ham. Couple shrimp. Mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce. Mumbling and complaining the whole time. Some pumpkin pie, two pieces. Make sure we drink every drop of the blackmail champagne.
Twenty-six years have passed. I’m no longer pissed at the kids, but I repeat this story every year on Thanksgiving. My worst Thanksgiving ever. But those damn kids helped make it my most memorable Thanksgiving on record.
America’s Best Crime Writer and author of Born to Be Wild.