Hopefully, your Thanksgiving turkey will be a little bit better behaved than those guys.

It's the guests you may have to worry about. Well, have no fear. Our humorist Brian Unger has a few suggestions on how to approach the traditional Thanksgiving dinner remarks.

BRIAN UNGER: There's a good chance you will be called upon to give a speech at Thanksgiving dinner. This leads to a great deal of pre-dinner performance anxiety. There at the table in front of family, friends, or people you've known for about an hour you will be asked to deliver a personal, heartfelt Gettysburg-quality address on just what it is exactly you are thankful for this year.

(Soundbite of music)

UNGER: You sit there, waiting your turn to speak, round the table it goes, your heart races, blood pressure rises, you perspire and fidget. You've got nothing. No prepared text, no fancy prose. You just want to eat some turkey, for Pete's sake. But suddenly you're auditioning for "American Idol."

The pilgrims did not go around the table thanking Squanto for the harvest. They said a prayer and got down to the eatin'.

Today there is no free pass anymore to stuffing your face with stuffing, slinking away from the table for a nap, sated and bloated. Now you've got to sing for your supper.

(Soundbite of music)

UNGER: This postmodern Thanksgiving ritual, this impromptu public speaking, is the leading clause of flop sweat on the third Thursday in November of each year in America. If your family doesn't kill you, this speech will.

Here are a few guidelines on giving thanks this year from the Unger Report. First, when it's your turn to speak, say pass. Deliver it with a death stare, not a smile. Wait out the awkward silence, boom, you're offstage.

Second guideline: when it's your turn to give thanks, burst into tears. Mumble something about your medication. Wait out the awkward silence and no one will bother you for the rest of the meal, or the rest of the year.

Give thanks to things people don't want to hear about, like herbicides, Britney Spears, or your gun. The host will blurt out: next. And you're done, just like that.

This year don't be out on the spot when giving thanks. Plan ahead by using a PowerPoint presentation on a laptop. Slide one, picture of your family; slide two, your dog; slide three, your car; and so forth. You won't have to say a word.

When giving thanks, keep it brief to one word, like God, or mom, or the cook. As soon as you start down the path of, well, it's been quite a year, you will be uninvited to next year's dinner and you'll have no one to thank but yourself.

Lastly, get liquored up before making your speech. That way, as you just slur your way through an indecipherable litany of gratitude, others will at least be reminded that they are grateful for not being you, the family drunk.

And that is today's Unger Report. Thank you. I'm Brian Unger.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from