Thanksgiving can be a wonderful time to celebrate community, eat delicious food, and catch up with loved ones. It can also be incredibly awkward and uncomfortable. I’d love to write about the joys of baking pie with family, but that would be far less entertaining. So here are some ridiculous ways to avoid uncomfortable topics at Thanksgiving. Before I get into it, however, I would like to note that the beliefs and anecdotes depicted in this story do not all reflect experiences with my own family. Rather, I asked my peers what they were and weren’t excited about for Thanksgiving break and compiled this article based on my findings. (See, I’m taking “that mean Argus article you wrote” off the list of problematic Thanksgiving topics.)
Questions About Your Life Plan (or lack thereof):
For some, the familial pressure to excel in a traditionally “successful” career such as a doctor or a lawyer can be intense. So what should you do when, between bites of cranberry sauce, a relative asks about the progress of your LSAT prep? Since it would be rude to change the subject entirely, try merely shifting the focus a little bit to one of my favorite conspiracy theories: lawyers are secretly fairies. Think about it, they legally cannot lie, but instead trade in half-truths and loopholes. Additionally, they are obsessed with contracts and follow the letter of the law over its actual intended meaning. Folklore tells of fairies spending their time in circular groves, also known as courts. Moreover, if you shoot them with cold iron, they will die. Coincidence? I think not.
Questions About Your Love Life:
Whether or not you’ve cuffed yet this season, having all your relatives ask you about your romantic prospects can be uncomfortable. A classic way to get out of this is simple deflection. For example, if (hypothetically) your brother just ended a long relationship and (again, hypothetically) he wasn’t coming to Thanksgiving, take advantage of the power of narrative control. After all, why answer questions about your relationship when you could spill the tea on someone else’s? Thankfully, siblings are resilient and can handle being thrown unceremoniously under the bus. If your relatives judge you for ratting out your brother’s failed romance, redirect the attention to your new hobby: crochet. After all, snitches get stitches.
Bringing Up Awkward Family Stories:
Historically, the White House’s press team has used a technique called “The Friday News Dump.” It entails airing a bunch of stories that they want to bury all at once on a Friday afternoon. The theory is that fewer people read the news on Saturday and if there are five huge stories, each will get less attention and publicity than a single story. I believe that a similar theory can be applied to navigating potentially uncomfortable topics at Thanksgiving. Instead of side-stepping around one single issue such as religion, or that embarrassing story from when you were little, just bring them all up at once. Air out every skeleton in the family closet (literal or metaphorical). That uncle who’s getting a divorce, that grade you weren’t happy with, the fact that you’re no longer pre-med, which family members secretly (or not so secretly) hate each other, and so on. Go wild! See if you can leak your grandmother’s secret recipe for stuffing while you’re at it. You can even start making stuff up (see the lawyers are fairies theory above) and find out where that takes you. After all, if Alex Jones can get an audience with his stories, so can you.
One pitfall to this approach is overloading family members with shock, leaving you to navigate horror-stricken silence. However, I prefer to think of this as an opportunity to get to know more about your family by asking the real question: Does anyone believe in ghosts? Trick the non-believers by haunting them until they see things your way.
Questions About Politics:
Do I even have to warn you about this one? Last year’s Thanksgiving landed in the middle of the Kavanaugh hearings. That, plus the combination of her grandparents and champagne, resulted in my best friend over-dramatically slamming her fist onto the table and angrily announcing she was going to get pie. Sometimes it’s important to know which battles are worth fighting and which are worth eating a whole lot of pie over. But if you’re still mad at that problematic family member, offer to get them seconds of delicious Thanksgiving dinner and then spit in their mashed potatoes. (I’m kidding. That’s way too petty and kind of gross.)
If you’ve tried everything on this list to no avail, there’s one thing that no one can hate: funny cat pictures. Unless you have an aunt who’s allergic to cats, or whose cat just died. Wow, really nothing is safe. Good luck out there folks.
Katarina Grealish can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.