Thanksgiving dinner inspires images of a seated family courteously passing poultry amid a cornucopia of pleasantries. But then you wake up from your tryptophan-induced coma, and you’re like, that was a nice dream. In actuality, that gathering left you with a headache and the profound bloat that only comes from having eaten your feelings. Luckily, we’ve been able to identify some recurring threats to the enjoyment of your Thanksgiving dinner. Here are the six biggest ones.
The kids’ table
The night before Thanksgiving dinner, visualize your ideal seating arrangement. You’ll want to place yourself somewhere between your favorite aunts, out of earshot of your inappropriate political rival, and as far from the (only intermittently adorable) young’uns as possible. A laissez-faire approach to a possible kids’ table assignment inevitably leads to you being placed there, amongst the endless pleas of “cut my mashed potatoes” and “listen to my song STOP LOOKING AT ME.” So you have to plan ahead. Once you arrive at the designated eating location, maintain laser focus. Scope out the chair you’d like to sit in and position yourself near it. The moment the first guest crosses to the dining table, grab the people you want to flank you and stake your claim. Threaten a temper tantrum if the host asks you to move.
“Healthy Living” quiche
In every family, there’s that cousin who’s determined to stick to her diet (at least until she starts eating and re-evaluates). Avoid whatever food item she’s prepared; it’s going to taste like sugar substitutes and sadness. If you must try the quasi-quiche, first fill your plate with mashed potatoes and gravy to blur the low-cal item’s boundaries. That’s our kind of portion control.
The “D” word
It’s all downhill the minute granddad demands to know if you’re “dating.” There’s no right answer. If you are, you’ll be interrogated about the relationship until your psychiatrist uncle comes across a red flag. If you’re not, then why aren’t you? Should they be worried? Did you go to Friday night services at the Reform temple they read about in Time magazine? The only counterattack to a “D” word deployment is another word that begins with the letter “D”: deflect. Your sister seems particularly smirky tonight; has online dating been working for her?
Other people’s needs
The last thing you want to think about at a delicious feast is if other people need assistance. Strategize so that you’re sitting near your martyr brother, and let him be the one to feel guilty and cave every time plates need clearing. Simultaneously, make sure to take the lead in the shallowest group conversation. (Felix Baumgartner is a safe all-ages bet this year.) You’ll be absolved of having to ask your sulking preteen cousin what’s wrong. (Hormones are a safe, age-specific bet this year.)
People who watch you take brownies
From equality-obsessed younger relatives to your now-worried grandfather, everyone wants to know how many brownies you’re going to be ingesting. There might even be the suggestion that you switch to fruit, at which point, add strawberries on top of your next brownie. Everyone calm down; that’s what ellipticals are for!
Family pitch session inspired by your creative endeavors
Tempting as it is to brag about the great idea you have for your next novel, you don’t want to deal with the fallout from a labored explanation. Your family will overly praise you for your prolificness (thanks, Mom) and then ease into a conversation about how you should write something about this family’s dynamic. What a hilarious, unique family you guys have.
Who needs their advice?
What other threats do you foresee marring your Thanksgiving meal experience? Let us know in the comments!