Sorry for not being around much lately, but I was on one of those self-improvement journeys in order to control my Greek anger management issues.

I made an attempt to get a service dog, the ones you see people with health issues walking around with, to help with my anxiety, but I was turned down. When I asked the doctor why he said they were concerned for the dog’s digestive system since I feed him scraps from the taverna. I told the doctor he’s never tried my scraps. Still no dog. I had to find another way to cope.

I don’t know if I’m living in a parallel universe or what. Those around me tell me that I’m “different, a rebel and non-conforming,” and even my buds at Cosmos Philly say “I rant, am aggressive and that I need to tone things down.” With the service dog not being an option, I turned to meditation and also signed up with an Indian spiritual guru who ended up draining my finances. I was ready to try yoga but my two bad knees and the price of an extra large yoga mat made me turn again to tsipouro and unfiltered cigarettes.

I have to admit that the Indian chants and the hallucinogenic drugs were of some help, and the fact that I didn’t give the guy who cut me off the other day on the road a “Moutza,” is proof of improvement. Back home, just in time for Thanksgiving and my two daughters announce that they want to do the cooking. I immediately make an executive decision and contact the in-laws and ask if they can be on standby with a garden hose because I just have a bad feeling about the outcome. In theory, it sounded good, but in reality, the house might burn to the ground.

Every year in this country on turkey day it just seems as if Americans want to compete with the California wildfires on who can create the biggest flames. I then notice a telephone number on one of those Post-It yellow stickers on the refrigerator door that wasn’t there the day before so I start dialing. It’s a troubleshooting hotline for turkey day dishes. I hang up the phone because I must be the first Greek who’s ever called for help on how to cook something.

As the day progresses the in-laws show up and we start unloading their SUV with more aluminum containers than a national guard relief effort after a devastating hurricane. Then it happens, the Greek drama unfolds as my father-in-law, both hands raised, just can’t believe that he forgot the plastic container of pickled cabbage and tomatoes (toursi) on the kitchen table of his house. He’s devastated but the Greek male ego that never accepts responsibility won’t allow him to admit that it was he who forgot the pickled tomatoes and not anyone else. He quickly jumps in his vehicle and speeds off because a Greek table on Thanksgiving Day without toursi is simply unacceptable.

It’s now time to eat and the Greek buffet line is in fifth gear. A friend once asked how a Greek buffet line differs from an American buffet line, and I said that the best way to describe it is that it’s very similar to a Nascar pit stop where people jump out of nowhere and within seconds change tires, fill the car with gas, check the oil and could even probably do an emissions test all in under ten seconds.

We Greeks kill if anyone gets between us and our lamb chops. The turkey is sitting in the middle of the table suffocating from the lamb, moussaka, pastichio, oven roasted pork, shrimp saganaki potatoes, rice, five or six huge bowls of salads and enough baklava and kourabiethes to open up a Greek pastry shop. As everyone is juggling more plates than a Greek waiter at the bouzoukia, the politically incorrect uncle notices a scene on the television. The news is showing people storming into one of those mega stores on Black Friday who, like a cattle drive, stomp on people to get to that electronic device they’ve been waiting for all year.

The uncle unaware that we’ve exported Black Friday to the motherland says that Greeks would never behave in such a way and my old ugly self-resurfaced. In Greece, they call it BLAKS Friday or IDIOT Friday for those of you who quit Greek school early.

Yes indeed. The Greeks who fought invaders like the Persians, the Turks, and the Germans have succumbed to the ugliest day of consumerism where one is camping out for hours in front of retail stores just to get to that one iPhone that’s half price. Now don’t get me wrong, we all like our gadgets and there’s nothing wrong with accumulating crap, but Greece’s economy collapsed and it was just yesterday when people were standing in line, not for that new smartphone but for medicine, food, and the ATM, which had a limit on how much cash one can withdrawal.

I’ll leave you now with a Greek army marching song that’s very telling of how far we’ve regressed as a nation:

Black is the night on the mountains.
Snowfall on the rocks.
In the dark, in the wild nature,
on the rough stones, the narrows,
the klepht hits his sword.
In his right hand
holds a thunderbolt.
The mountain is his palace,
the sky his covering.