There you are, soon to be surrounded by mounds of food, cooked with love. The sumptuous smells have been wafting from the kitchen since dawn, cranking your tummy grumble up to 11.

And yet. You know there’s something missing.

It’s called HEAT, Yo. Sizzle. Burn. Flame-mouthed joy-cries. Slippery butt sweats.

It’s called hot sauce.

Your mind drifts to high summer, and mouthfuls of searing tacos washed down with a margarita with smoke pouring out of it, it’s so spicy. You sigh contentedly at the memory…

Then reality slaps you upside the head like a cold fish. Or maybe more like the sandpapery whap of a plain, dry slice of naked turkey breast.

Oh, right, it’s that holiday. Thanksgiving. Blandest of the bland. No sauce to be found.

You sigh resignedly at the thought and start thinking ahead to the pumpkin pie…

And suddenly, there’s a <knock, knock, knock> at the door. But how could that be? All the guests have already arrived.

Aunt Mabel eyes the room suspiciously as if we’re all in a conspiracy against her. We all shrug as she sidles to the door.

She peers through the peephole and seems confused. She looks surreptitiously over her shoulder, contributes her own shrug, then opens the door a crack.

And what should pop through… but a long, blue trunk!

Aunt Mabel emits a little squeak and jumps aside to reveal a little blue creature with a big blue tote bag filling up the doorway.

“Who invited the anteater?” Grampa yells because his hearing aid battery is on low.

“Grampa!” you declare with glee, “That’s not an anteater! That’s the Secret Aardvark!”

The little guy trundles through the room, eyebrows waggling up and down mischievously, dragging his Secret Aardvark tote bag full of, oh… could it be??

He plops his pear-shaped bod into an empty dining room chair. And then, quicker than you can say, “Red Scorpion Fiery Hot Sauce,” out flies the sauce! Whoosh! Whomp! Fwap! All across the table.

Smoky Chipotle lands beside the turkey. Serrabanero cuddles up to the mashed potatoes. The stuffing gets a blast of Reaper. Drunken Garlic marinade coats green beans with a shimmery sheen.

A warm red glow forms over the table… then on everyone’s cheeks as they take tentative bites. Then, faster than you can say, “Drunken Jerk Jamaican Marinade,” everyone is digging right in!

“I never knew Thanksgiving could be so spicy!” Cousin Clara exclaims, eyes wild and moist with hot sauce tears.

“This is your best turkey in years…so smoky and savory!” Uncle Rodrigo cries. Aunt Mabel scarcely looks up to receive the compliment, she so frantically shovels in the tangy mashed potatoes.  

“We love Aardvark!” the crowd chants in unison. A faint rosy-red hue spreads across the Aardvark’s blue cheeks as his eyebrows wiggle bashfully.

Then, as quickly as he came, Aardvark rolls out of his chair, waddles to the door, and raises his puffy blue paw in fond farewell as he disappears out the door.

Everyone at the table issues a contented sigh (and a sniffle or two) as they dig back into the spice-o-licious, Aardvarked-up meal that will forever change how they think about Thanksgiving.

And that, friend, is how the Aardvark saved your Thanksgiving dinner. You’re welcome.

Editor’s Note: Please do not nuke your entire family’s dinner with hot sauce without consent. But do make your own plate delicious and rock that sauce with pride. There’s always room at the table for the Aardvark.