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Thanksgiving is a great time for families to get together and share with one another that warm, loving feeling we all get during the holidays, and we do it over a plate packed with delicious meats, savory veggies, and scrumptious starches.

My family died in a bus fire about 12 years ago and I’ve been smoking crack pretty steadily ever since. So, it’s a little hard for me to remember exactly what any of that stuff feels like.

Ever since that fire turned that bus in to a crematorium, reducing my family to nothing but the charred embers of their former lively selves, the holidays, especially family dinner-related holidays, are a total bummer for me. I think that’s largely due to the fact that they died in the November/January time frame, at least that’s what my social worker tells me. Also, because my mom is the one that did all of our family’s cooking and she, as I just mentioned, died screaming in the bus fire.

Trying to eat a bountiful holiday meal while living in the back alleys and under the overpasses of a major metropolitan city may seem like an impossible, and some say abhorrent, task to pull off. Well, I’m here to tell you that that’s only half right. It’s totally possible!

With a little know-how, a squeeze of gumption, a sprinkle of hope, and a pocket filled with the ashes of your dead family, anyone can re-create a perfect Thanksgiving meal using nothing but the contents of various dumpsters scattered throughout your city.

You’d be surprised how many perfectly good semi-rancid food-like items people just throw away on or just after thanksgiving!

But before we get to the dinner, we have to have everything prepared first!  So, step one is…

Pick a Location for the Dinner

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If you’re anything like me, then you lost your apartment after about 6 months worth of delinquent payments. So inviting people over to your place is pretty much out of the question, unless you feel the urge to barge in on the new owners of your apartment and force them to feed you under the threat of decapitation and/or sexual molestation. While this is a viable option, it may not be the cure to your problems, so it’s best to go the safe route.

A few days prior to Thanksgiving, stake out some cozy little Mom ‘n Pop pottery stores in your area and find out which ones will be closed on the day of. Of course, it’s not good enough to just know which ones are going to be closed. You also have to find out what their security system is like. You have to look for weaknesses. Maybe they have a backdoor with an old, rusty lock? Or maybe they have windows that are susceptible to bricks?

These are questions that every good dumpster diving thanksgiving meal eater needs to ask. You have to be crafty, people!

Oh, and always – ALWAYS – carry around a rusty needle. It doesn’t need to have AIDS on it, but the people you may have to threaten with it if you break into an occupied building won’t know the difference, so a little white lie won’t hurt them.  Unless you do hurt them.

It’s not Thanksgiving without Family!

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The whole point of thanksgiving is to sit down at a table with the people you love and enjoy a great meal.

My family’s dead. That makes the “sitting down with family” part a little hard pull off. Or does it?

Whether your family died in a bus fire, disowned you after you squandered their fortune on heroin, or you actually murdered one of them and can’t look at the rest of them in the eye, it matters not. Fuck’em! It’s actually pretty simple to recreate the family atmosphere using only the miscreants, vagabonds, junkies and Guatemalan male whores that you have around you.

Now, you can go about sending the invites in one of two ways:

Firstly, search for other people that God has shit on that fit certain preconceived notions of what certain family members should look like. If you close your eyes and imagine a father being a pudgy, jolly old man with rosy cheeks, then look for a guy or gal that seems to fit the profile.

Hey! What’s that over there?! Is that a pudgy, jolly old father with rosy cheeks? Nope! It’s just a ‘Nam vet with a freshly burst appendix and high blood pressure! Could’a fooled me!

Secondly, you can try to find other street dwellers that bare a passing resemblance to the family that you once had. If your Aunt Becky had large hips, flaming red hair, and a penchant for giving you long, awkward hugs, then look for a vagabond with similar features. But don’t get picky. There aren’t that many choices out there, so you may have to forego trying to find a perfect homeless Aunt Becky avatar and just settle for any random female junkie that isn’t currently dead in an alley.

And that’s another thing; some of these people will probably be very, very despondent. After all, the holidays can be a pretty sad time for some. So they may try to inject, smoke or snort an abnormally high amount of their drug of choice to make the pain die. This can lead to an up-kick in death rates amongst your dinner guests.

To combat this, make sure you set up strict rules that plainly state that drugs of any kind will not be tolerated an hour prior to the meal, and during the meal itself. Afterwards, though, they can have all they want. What does it matter? You’ve already used them for your own selfish purposes, and they can die with a full belly. Win-win.

Now we get to the delicious meat of the guide. Here are some lovely tips on how to recreate some of your favorite Thanksgiving meals using nothing but your smarts, ingenuity, and your high tolerance when it comes to swimming in other peoples’ filth and waste.

It’s dumpster diving time!

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Cranberry Sauce – Recreating the taste of cranberry sauce is a little tricky to nail down. The best thing to do is to first scope out the inner recesses of a Chinese food restaurant’s dumpster. Most dumpster divers would only search the top layer of trash for their food stuffs. But not me and certainly not you!

You have to dig down deep in there until you hit that sweet, sweet nectar at the very bottom of the dumpster. That glorious place where all sauces drip and drain down to. Down there is a vast ocean of semi-caked on soy sauce, spicy mustard, and, the baby we’re looking for, duck sauce.

Scrape as much as you can off of the bottom of the dumpster, while being mindful of any rat feces and insect carcasses you may encounter. Those elements may add a nice consistency, but they do nothing for the flavor and even less for digestive tract.

Stuffing – There are many schools of thought when it comes to stuffing, but really, all you need to know are the two classics: used cotton balls soaked in orange juice and crumbled beef patty, bread crumbs and iced tea marinated in an old tube sock.

Sure, you can just go buy a box of stuffing because it’s less than a dollar in most places and you will probably find at least a dollar’s worth of change in your many dumpster diving expeditions. But paying for food goes against everything a dumpster diver is all about. And by that I mean, it’s all about finding out just how far down you’re willing to sink just before you’re performing sexual favors on people that just ate a full meal.

Turkey – Some think the turkey is the hardest part of the Thanksgiving meal to recreate. I say nay. All it takes is a little creativity and you can be wolfing down a bird in no time.

First, head over to the dumpster of your local deli. Once inside, of course, you’re going to search for as many slices of turkey as you can find. You may not be able to find too many so don’t get picky. Take what you can get. Once you have collected anywhere between 12-30 pounds of slimy, rancid sandwich meats (you may have to visit multiple deli dumpsters), the real creativity comes in to play.

Head over to the city dump. Yes, we’re going to the big leagues now. Once there, search high and low for one item in particular that will make your meal a hit with all of the low-lives and scumbags at your dinner party. You’re looking for a baby carrier.

If you manage to find one, then thank your lucky stars and curse the name of God just a little bit less that night because you’ve just hit the motherload. Here’s what you do: flip the baby carrier over so the seat is facing the dinner table. Then, cover the carrier with your rancid sandwich meats until you can no longer see the plastic surface.

Since you’ll no doubt find a bunch of chicken bones in all of your diving, all you have to do is save a couple, wrap them in some meat (if you have run out, some brown napkins will suffice as long as the heroin users don’t eat them), and slap them on either side of the “bird.”

Bam! A beautiful thanksgiving turkey!

And there you have it, folks! If you find yourself on the cold, desolate streets of your city this Thanksgiving, and you’re about 10 minutes away from laying on some train tracks to put an end to it all (like I’ll be), just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get to diving!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!