Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author.

What is it about Thanksgiving that causes my heart to beat more rapidly as the day draws closer?
This doesn’t happen with other holidays; even if the Amazon delivery person failed to arrive on Christmas Eve with all the gifts I’d purchased for my family, I’d be fine. On Christmas morning, I would just announce that their gifts will be “arriving soon” and then happily open my gifts while they watched.
But Thanksgiving? Four years ago, I wrote about my desire to cancel it, so entrenched was this country in the Trump vs. Hillary debate. In 2018, to keep dinner conversations calm and civil, I suggested infusing all food items with CBD, the trendiest over-the-counter chemical compound at the time. Since then, 11 states have legalized recreational marijuana, greatly increasing the odds that at least one relative at your holiday table comes prepared and can sprinkle “something a little stronger” into the turkey if civility is your only goal. Plus, it might be fun to watch your rigid aunt giggle uncontrollably and then be unable to answer when you ask her, “What is so funny?”
Last year I doled out advice to those with extended families who might have to endure two Thanksgiving dinners in order to keep peace and harmony intact. My suggestion? Serve lasagna containing ground turkey at one of the meals. You’re still having turkey, technically, and cleanup will be much easier.
Which brings us to 2020, a cesspool of a year even if it didn’t contain the presidential election. Dr. Anthony Fauci, everybody’s favorite medical advisor unless you’re a diehard Trump supporter, suggested in a recent CBS interview that families consider canceling the holiday to ward off the spread of coronavirus. Too many people from too many locations gathered in a single household is exactly what this country doesn’t need now.
“You may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering,” Fauci told CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell.
Considering that nobody took my 2016 advice to cancel Thanksgiving, I’m confident Fauci’s suggestion will fall on deaf ears. But I have an alternative proposal; one that will allow Americans to remain festive while still heeding all of Fauci’s suggestions for staying virus free.
Combine Halloween with Thanksgiving.
Fauci wants everyone to continue wearing face coverings, correct? Well, arrive for Thanksgiving wearing your scariest, most blood curdling mask. Just make sure the mouth opening is wide enough for turkey and sweet potatoes to pass through. Also, make the rest of your attire as horrifying as possible, thereby encouraging social distancing. Who would want to hug a family member with an axe in his shoulder or hands that resemble claws?
Once all ghouls are seated at the table, serve the plates and then wait for somebody to realize there is no silverware to be found. Announce that all food must be consumed by hand, including the gravy-laden mashed potatoes and the orange Jell-O mold with marshmallows. Everyone will immediately excuse themselves in order to wash their hands. And they will do it again once the meal is over. Somewhere, Fauci will be smiling, just knowing this simple act of hygiene is finally occurring.
Thanksgiving hosts, here’s where it gets really good. After the meal, you’ll be left with guests who are feeling bloated, with hands still vaguely smelling of giblets and struggling to breathe normally due to their masks. As a result, most, if not all, will opt to leave your house early, ripping their masks off as they throw their cars into reverse and peel out of your driveway. Now you can enjoy some peace and quiet on the couch while the dishwasher hums in the background. Cleanup, incidentally, will be easier than a lasagna meal, due to the lack of silverware.
If this works, I have another suggestion: Combine Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. At the least, it will mean we can end 2020 one week earlier.
(Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author of two books: “Text Me If You’re Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad” and the recently released “The Road To Success Goes Through the Salad Bar: A Pile of BS From a Corporate Comedian,” available at Visit Greg on the web at
You’ve enjoyed reading, and laughing at, Greg Schwem’s monthly humor columns in Senior Living News. But did you know Greg is also a nationally touring stand-up comedian? And he loves to make audiences laugh about the joys, and frustrations, of growing older. Watch the clip and, if you’d like Greg to perform at your senior center or senior event, contact him through his website at