Thanksgiving is the time of year when you think of all the things in your life that you’re thankful for. Often, this list includes family, though you may not realize it when you’re in the middle of the annual gathering of relatives from near and far. Fear not, brave holiday celebrant, for there are ways to know how to survive Thanksgiving with family!
Share The Joy
If you’re married, then this one’s a snap. You and your spouse will have plenty to talk about and rehash after the festivities. If you’re single, consider bringing along a sympathetic, well-behaved friend who doesn’t have other Thanksgiving plans. Consider an ally who doesn’t mind fielding personal questions from strangers, doesn’t drink too much, and has promised not to share embarrassing stories about you at future friend gatherings. This trusted soul will commiserate with you after the shindig, and during the gathering, they’ll take some pressure off of you.
Dress For Success
Face it, no matter what you wear, someone will comment that you should have opted for something warmer/more formal/less baggy/less revealing. You can’t please all of your relatives all the time, so dress in an outfit that makes you happy.
- Go for something loose around the waist because. . .pie. Only the men of a certain age can get away with popping open the buttons on their pants to make room for more.
- Don’t wear all black because someone will remark that you look like you’re dressed for a funeral.
- Wear an outfit that makes you feel confident so that when you find yourself explaining (again) why you haven’t yet made partner at your firm, settled down, and got married, or moved out of your small apartment, you can tell yourself, “At least I look good!”
Give Them Something to Talk About
Most people enjoy talking about themselves and telling stories about their pasts. If you find yourself in a situation where you either don’t want to talk about your life or you’ve run out of safe subjects to discuss, then ask a question that requires a story as a response. It helps a great deal if your question has something to do with family history since others can join in and add to the conversation. Tread lightly here and only ask questions that you’ll be comfortable hearing details about. Asking your grandparents how they met, for example, is much safer than asking them to tell you about their honeymoon. Be sure to start storytime before the wine goes dry. Loose lips sometimes result in things that you can’t unhear.
Make Yourself Useful
Whether it’s before or after the big Thanksgiving meal, there are plenty of jobs, large and small, that need to be done. Offering to help with these chores not only makes a good impression on your relatives, but it also keeps you busy and gives you something to focus on other than Aunt Margie’s weird new hairdo. Of course, many hosts will decline your offer of assistance, so here’s a refusal-proof response: “Nonsense! There’s got to be something I can do, and this way, I can spend some extra time with you.” Bam. Next thing you know, you’re wiping crystal drinking glasses with a soft cloth and avoiding most of the crowd.
Prepare to Deflect
You likely already know several of the topics that will be discussed during your family’s Thanksgiving event and many of the questions that well-meaning relatives will ask you. Don’t go in blind. Instead, arm yourself with a few prepared responses and diversions. For example:
- “No, I’m not currently dating anyone. I just haven’t found a man that measures up to Dad/Grandad/Uncle Henry yet.”
- “My job? Well, actually I… Oh, you look like you could use a refill on your drink! Let me get that for you.”
- “Oh, you feel that way about the President, do you? How interesting. That’s a lovely watch – where did you get it?”
- “No babies yet. Why don’t you tell me all about raising yours? Those are great stories, Aunt Eddie.”
Take a Pass on the Cocktails
This may seem counterintuitive since your primary urge is to knock back a few glasses of wine or dip into Uncle Henry’s vintage scotch collection. Think of it this way, though: once you hit the point of intoxication, you’ll end up saying or doing something that will probably be embarrassing, and that will become fodder for the next (and all future) family gatherings. Don’t do this to yourself. Have a cocktail when you arrive to calm your nerves and a glass of wine with dinner, but limit yourself to these two drinks.
Bonus: Black Friday won’t be so named because you can’t open your eyes from the holiday hangover.
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