It’s no secret that holidays with the family can be more stressful than joyous, therefore, it’s easy to feel more resentful than thankful. But without fail, Thanksgiving comes around every November, so we have compiled a few tips to ensure that the turkey is the only thing being roasted this year.
1. Keep Conversation Light-Hearted
Small talk is the most mind-numbing form of conversation, but it is necessary when trying to avoid tension around the turkey. So although you may disagree with some of your family’s political beliefs and archaic ideas, you have to realize that if they have not changed by now, they’re not going to change in their mid-forties after a heated debate about the current political climate around the dinner table. Just realize they are always going to view you as the young kid who will learn one day when you finally grow up and don’t waste your energy. Keep it to asking about their famous sweet potato casserole recipe that hasn’t changed over the past ten years and how Alabama will inevitably crush Auburn in the Iron Bowl.
2. Be Prepared to Lie
The most dreadful aspect of any family gathering are the endless questions about topics that you like to avoid all 365 days of the year. Questions such as, “So how’s the job hunt going?”, or “When are you going to finally settle down with someone?”. What makes these nosey questions worse is that they’re coming from your showboat cousin, who has somehow locked down a full time job right out of college despite being a full time idiot, and from your aunt that has been divorced two times now claiming that her wine is water. But no matter what these questions are or who they come from it’s imperative that you resist rolling your eyes (at least in front of them) and masterfully dodge the question by either redirecting the conversation back to them or simply giving the most vague answer possible. For example, if your uncle asks “How’s school going? Still making straight A’s?”, instead of being brutally honest about how you failed one class and are graduating a semester later, you can artfully respond with “Well, it’s been quite the stressful semester, but nothing a little studying can’t fix!”. Just like that you have not technically lied while still answering the question sufficiently enough to move on to topics like football or the weather. Unfortunately, you may run into more persistent family members, whom you must try to avoid appetizer talk with at all costs. But if you find yourself trapped in conversation with your seemingly good-intentioned grandmother, who has simply lost her social tact over the years, be fully prepared to lie and don’t feel bad about it. What they don’t know, won’t hurt them. Fully embrace the questionable ‘ignorance is bliss’ mantra.
3. Don’t Take Anything To Heart
It’s easy to get offended by the not-so-subtle southern passive aggression that is felt in the many “bless your heart’s” and the judgmental whispers between your gossipy cousins, but you have to let all negativity roll off your back. Realize that no one in this house has their life together either, and we are all just trying to impress grandma and grandpa. So just remember, this is only one day a year, and you don’t have to talk to anyone here if you don’t want to for the rest of the year…until Christmas (or Hanukkah!) comes around at least.
4. Stick With That One Cousin
Now in the midst of what feels like an attack on all of your life choices, know that you can call on your favorite cousin for back up. We all have that one family member, whether it be a cousin or not, that you genuinely do love for reasons other than simply being related to them. They understand your family and consequently feel your pain too, which is why you must stick to them like super glue the whole day if possible.
5. Stay Away From That One Aunt Or Uncle
We all have that one aunt with the slight drinking problem who, according to your grandmother, never reached her full potential. Or that mysterious uncle who has never married and you don’t really know what he does for a living. These are the people you need to avoid, or you’ll find yourself getting tipsy from your aunt’s wine breath as she complains about her deadbeat husband, or even worse having an uncomfortable conversation with your uncle about obscure topics like cryptocurrency and Area 51. I know avoiding a particular family member may seem as futile as avoiding the plague, but in the least, you can ensure that you spend as little amount of time with them as possible. If you find yourself trapped in a corner with your alcoholic aunt, enable her vices and offer to go get her another drink and simply never return. Or if somehow your sister abandoned you with your overly paranoid uncle, tell him you have to go get your phone immediately to look up his all time favorite conspiracy videos before you forget when really you’re going to hide out in the bathroom for a solid fifteen minutes until he’s found his next victim.
6. Sweet Talk Your Grandparents
In most families, the grandparents rank supreme while everyone under is simply trying to kiss their asses. And only good can come from being the favorite grandkid, which may include a nice little graduation check or in the nearer future, a generous Christmas check. So start laying on the compliments thick. And remember to lie if necessary.
7. Give Thanks (‘Tis The Season Anyway)
I know it’s easy to only focus on the negative and as you get older, family holidays seem more like an obligation. But my biggest tip to survive Thanksgiving is to allow yourself time to reflect on this day and be grateful for what you do have. No family is picture perfect, and it’s those crazy family members that make the holidays interesting to say the least. Know that underneath any snide remarks or judgmental side glances, they care enough to judge, and most of the time all those intrusive questions come from a good place. Appreciate what you do have and realize you wouldn’t be the person you are today, let alone even exist, if it weren’t for the people around you.