Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving is today, and some people are not prepared –– whether that be physically unprepared for having a food baby all week or emotionally unprepared to talk to their extended family. Some people might dread going home for the holidays –– especially since they happen to be right after election season. Others might be worried about experiencing new family dynamics or adjusting to a new addition to the family: plans change! However, there are ways to combat this. In order to survive Thanksgiving this year, consider following these rules:

 

1. Avoid talking about politics

This goes along with the talk about the election: Forget about it. At the slightest mention of any politician’s name or campaign, shut it down. This is a one-way ticket to the day ending in a burnt turkey. Instead, try to focus on how good the stuffing looks, or how your cousin just won first place at their science fair. Small, surface-level conversations are always the best way to steer clear of unnecessary political debates. It is unlikely that either person will change their mind on their belief, even if one of them just happened to get their facts from Facebook.

2. Compliment your aunt

This compliment can be about anything: her new hairdo, the nail color she picked out or her holiday outfit. All aunts swoon at the mention of how good they look in the clothing they spent hours deciding on before coming to dinner. This way, the attention is on her and how she looks, rather than it being on if you have a significant other since the last time you saw her. Spoiler alert, Auntie: They’re still single.

3. Have an hour-long conversation with your grandmother

Grandma will ask generally the same questions, but she won’t have a filter about it. If you’re not strategic about approaching her, she could be mentioning how you look like you’ve “let yourself go” within five minutes of seeing each other. Instead, try to approach the somehow-all-knowing grandmother in a way that gets her talking about herself. Ask about her four dogs –– especially the one that has narcolepsy; she loves to talk about that one. Ask her about how Grandpa mows the lawn every other morning or how her flowers are looking –– basically, bringing up anything to distract her from everyone else’s business will help.

4. Tell your grandpa you’re doing great in school

Grandpas always love to brag about how smart their grandkids are, so give him something to brag about. Rattle off your majors and minors (even though you still don’t know what they mean). Tell him about all of the academic clubs you’re involved in, and make sure he knows that you’re going to class every day, even the 8 a.m. one. Maybe then, the “favorite grandkid” title will be yours (secretly, of course), and you’ll get an extra gift for the holidays this year.

5. Help out in the kitchen!

If all else fails, there’s one thing that is a major redemption card: Help cook something. Don’t just stand awkwardly in the middle of the kitchen, silently waiting for your mother to tell you what to do because you’re clueless in the kitchen (but she said you had to help). Take initiative and say, “Grandma, I will be making those mashed potatoes!” That way, your mother can gas you up at the dinner table and compliment your mashed potatoes in front of everyone. Everyone will be focused on the yummy potatoes in front of them, so they won’t even realize that no one has broken out into a fight yet. 

All family Thanksgivings are different: whether it looks like one big group of immediate and extended family members or just a few best friends, these guidelines will ensure a drama-free dinner on Thanksgiving day.

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