Happy Thanksgiving from the Deep Forest Outpost! We hope you have a wonderful day filled with loved ones, laughter, and mountains of food. Or whatever you want your day to be filled with — hey, we just want you to be happy.
I was conducting my morning rituals the other day when I started wondering what it would be like to have Thanksgiving dinner with Mickey Mouse and his friends (I often have these deep thoughts while sudsing). The brainstorming ground proved fertile, and I started taking notes. Who would play all those critical parts in the holiday drama? How would it measure up to our own family meals? These were ideas that needed exploring.
So exercise your imagination for a few minutes with me and come along as we spend the holiday with Mickey and company…
Who does all the cooking?
Your Family: The mythology of Thanksgiving is a deep, ingrained American tradition (and usually a bastion of uncorrected misogyny), so the women in the family will probably be making the food*. The men will be drafted for related chores, but spend more time greeting guests and checking on the progress of the parade or the sporting events.
[*Don’t mistake mothers/aunts/sisters willingness to cook for a lack of understanding about the inequity of the work. They are just afraid that turning over duties to lazy fathers/uncles/brothers will lead to pizza and pretzels for Thanksgiving dinner.]
Disney Family: Minnie Mouse, as the hostess, does most of the kitchen work. Mickey comes early to lift the turkey out of the oven and mash potatoes. Daisy Duck brings a fleet of side dishes, and enlists everyone in the room to help her haul things in from the car. Clarabelle Cow signs up for pies, and brings more than the whole group could physically eat.
Who carves the turkey?
Your Family: The men will go ahead and take care of that. You can just sit and rest, little lady. The Norman Rockwell tradition of the dad/uncle/brother at the head of the table with carving knife and fork in hand — and the expectant family waiting for the first strokes of the blade — looks nice in images but never really happens. It’s much easier to cut the bird up in the kitchen ahead of time, so the carver looks like less of an idiot.
Disney Family: Donald Duck steps up to the browned, glistening bird, unaware of the irony. He is going to preside over this year’s holiday feast. Enter Mickey, with the confidence of decades of preeminence. He shoulders out the guy with the anger management problem and plucks the razor-sharp knife from his hand. Mickey is the boss, and so nobody bats an eye. Donald heads to a seat at the end of the table. Honestly, I love Mickey as much as the next Disney nerd, but why hasn’t Donald punched him in his bulbous, tempting nose at least once?
Who eats so much that they have to undo their pants and lay on the couch, moaning?
Your Family: This has “young, recently married person” written all over it. If that matches your profile, then maybe this is you. Otherwise, this is your brother/sister/nephew/niece who just got hitched and is working on adding the first 30 post-wedding pounds.
Disney Family: We really don’t know the formal relationship status of anyone in the Mickey Mouse universe, so I am going to go with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Mickey’s old (but new to the scene) half-brother. Oswald seems like a pleasant fellow and is built like a pot-bellied stove. That’s a guy who could burn through the better part of a green bean casserole all by himself.
Who washes the dishes and cleans up the leftovers?
Your Family: This will probably be your harried sister or aunt (although in the spirit of helpfulness it should probably be you), with token assistance from the older children. She is fine with cleaning up because she “only” brought rolls, sweet potato casserole, green salad, and paper napkins.
Disney Family: Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Donald’s industrious, helpful nephews, fly around the room collecting dishes and cleaning up crumbs. Daisy directs efforts with the poise of a brigadier general, and then ends up doing most of the actual cleaning once the nephews lose interest. Donald is elbows-deep in hot water for most of an hour, still stewing about the turkey thing and hoping Mickey comes in to check on the progress as he hasn’t given up on the whole nose-punching idea.
Who brings up politics like it’s no big deal?
Your Family: Your smarmy uncle. He certainly didn’t vote with the majority in the room, and feels a strong need to have his voice heard. He treats rumor and hearsay as chiseled-in-stone truth, and has no patience for your so-called “facts.” Like a true Thanksgiving rookie, you get sucked right in. He is the reason you have to hunt down the aspirin for a throbbing headache.
Disney Family: This has to be someone who thinks of themselves as a brilliant iconoclast, but is really just a weenie who happens to read the newspaper*. You are glad to only see them once or twice a year.
[*As Mickey’s designated nemesis, Peg-Leg Pete is a tempting choice. But he seems more like a guy who would get angry drunk and only leave when you threatened to call the cops.]
For this we go deep into the lore and find Gladstone Gander, the congenitally lucky goose who is Donald’s first cousin (and rival for Daisy’s affections). His infuriating, unearned confidence means the nephews have their hands full keeping them in separate rooms. No matter Donald’s opinion on a political matter, Gladstone would find a reason to disagree.
Who sits on the couch and watches the football game, unfazed by the chaos?
Your Family: Your cool uncle, who has had many years of practice and drifts into a happy, catatonic state. He is probably watching the football game, but then again, he might just be seeing colors flash on the screen while he rides out his tryptophan buzz. He can be roused by seconds on pie or gentle conversational pudding. Er… prodding.
Disney Family: It has to be Goofy, who would spend the afternoon telling you funny stories about his extended career in sports. Goofy is currently depicted as a braindead doofus with baseline functioning ability, but original Goofy was laid back, happy-go-lucky, and hilarious. You would hope for old-school Goofy here, and hanging out would be a fun couple of hours.
Who leaves early before they are asked to help in any capacity?
Your Family: The speedy departure is a hallmark of your frat boy brother/cousin/nephew*. Hey, he showed up for the meal, what more does his mom want? Besides, he has important things to do like lay around his old bedroom playing video games and eating chips until his hands are caked in flavor powder. Key phrase: “I’m taking this semester to expand my horizons.”
[*Grandparents also tend to leave before the end, but that is mostly to get home before teenage street gangs come out for their nightly hassling of octogenarians. Plus, they can catch the end of Wheel of Fortune. Double plus, they have served enough Thanksgiving meals that they have earned a pass on the cleaning.]
Disney Family: Scrooge McDuck, the richest duck in the world, is a busy fellow. He has a multinational corporation to run, business interests to audit, intriguing leads to investigate, and a bin full of money in which to swim. Do you think a guy like that has time to help scrub dishes? Time is money, and he doesn’t have a nickel to spare.
Who spends the entire day hidden behind their smartphone?
Your Family: Your vapid sister/cousin/niece would rather be, like, anywhere else. Multiple pleas to stow away the phone are deflected with weaponized eye-rolling. Who cares that Grandma is telling the story about how she and Grandpa fled to Argentina after the war? She is on an unbroken streak of texting “OMG” back and forth with her friends at how totally lame your family is. Key phrase: “When can we gooooo?”
Disney Family: It might be tempting to assign this to one of the few “teen” characters (Max Goof, basically), but I am going to go with Chip and Dale. Those snarky little monsters would spend the entire day texting cruel observations to each other. Chip and Dale are savage. They have tried to kill Donald many times in their classic cartoon shorts.
Who enjoys the day more than they expected, and drifts off to sleep that night with visions of pumpkin pie dancing in their heads?
Your Family: It’s you. Don’t try to fight it. Just go with the flow and enjoy your hectic, noisy, aggravating, amusing, entertaining Thanksgiving.
Disney Family: This would be you, too.