I am not a fan of Thanksgiving. I have never been. It combines all the things I hate most: Organized group eating, at a table; buckled shiny shoes; puritans; thanking on cue; cooking and having to clean up afterward; Thursdays.

As a kid it meant seemingly hours of washing dishes and my drunk Aunt Evelyn having to be hosed off in the garden before anyone could have pie. As an adult with my own children it meant marrying and divorcing, on good terms, men who could cook.

This year, like the previous several, I’m going to my ex-husband Chato’s house for his annual TG dinner for Orphans. An ‘orphan’ being anyone who prefers to showcase his or her esoteric side dish in a broader venue than the family table, and me. Its fairly popular.

“What can I bring?” I ask Chato, staring at my cookbooks. The only one that really gets used is my childhood Betty Crocker for Kids. I love the pictures of 1960’s children visably enjoying making cookies and how 1960’s me scribbled their faces out and wrote ‘SUZANNE IS A BIG FAT BRAT’ in emphatic pen across the pans. It grounds me.

“Nothing!” he says, too quickly. My skills are legendary. I personally live on coffee and alcohol, chips and salsa, olives and cereal. I call these things Soups and Stews.

“Beer or wine, if you want…”

“No, I want to cook something this year,” I say. At first just to be polite and make him uncomfortable, but the more he resists, the more I really do think that maybe I do want to cook something.

“Oh….well…we will have so much food….I’m doing 2 turkeys, Carlos will make the garlic mashed potatoes, as usual, my mom is bringing homemade rolls and exotic (listed but not endangered) plant salad, Vanilli is baking bread and making stuffing from rare herbs and bread crusts flown in from a Popular New York Crustery, Kris is making pies and … {he lists something weird with root vegetables…I may have been humming by this point and didn’t catch the exact name or description, but its predictable}

…we have plenty of hors’doeuvres….”

“I can bring Snowman Cake or Turkey in the Straw cookies….” I offer. I can still read most of those 2 recipes. They involve Hostess Products and cereal.

“You should bring beer or wine…” he insists.

I have, like, 30 other cookbooks. Beautiful artistic things with recipes containing ingredients I wouldn’t know where to find in a store. I love books of any sort. I move toward them. I select The Silver Spoon.

“I could bring Coniglio al Miele con Vendure.” It takes me 3-5 minutes to brutalize this pronunciation. I have no idea what it means…

Chato is silent for a few moments. Probably making sure I’ve finished.

“Vendure,” I repeat.

“You have rabbit?” he sounds alarmed. Probably picturing what I’d do to a bunny involving Hostess products and cereal and how that might scar his young children in several ways, including breakfast.

“No…not presently…but …”

“Bring ….whiskey!! Good whiskey! DO NOT TRY TO MAKE THAT RECIPE!”

Last year I used the wrong horse feed and everyone felt ill almost immediately. Plus dewormed.

I always bring alcohol. That seems so sad and predictable. My Aunt Evelyn used to always bring alcohol and she ended up being hosed down in my mother’s delphiniums.

“How about…..” I scan my shelves for an English speaking cookbook, “What about…..”

The Joy of Cooking. What a fucking joke, like its part of a 3 volume series — The Ecstasy of Laundry and Splendor in the Cabinets ….

How to Cook Everything….I’ve scanned the index hoping for some really fun horrifying or improbable things like Human Liver or Old Shoes…but no…it doesn’t really mean EVERYTHING.

“…Snowball cake and whiskey, plus beer and wine.”

“That sounds fine, Katy.” Chato says.

“Unless I find a rabbit.”

One way or another, one of us will have something REAL to be thankful for this year.