How to Survive Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the most monstrous holiday in America. All of our extended family members gather together from far and wide to eat massive amounts of food and watch football. I’m sure for some people this sounds like an absolute dream, but for me and my crazy family it’s a survival challenge. Every year there are explosive political debates, close-minded relatives telling me my writing degree will leave me homeless, and absolute chaos of football fans screaming at the TV and each other. Over the years I have learned how to handle the stress of Thanksgiving and withstand until Christmas. Please enjoy my survival guide and hopefully it will lead to a happy, stress-free holiday.       


  1. Step One: Deflect, Deflect, Deflect: In our extended families we all have either that one ultra-conservative uncle that believes President Trump is the equivalent to Jesus Christ, a hypersensitive vegan aunt that cries and turns Thanksgiving into a protest whenever the turkey is brought out, or both if you’re like me and have a family of total nutcases. The best thing to do when one of these loonies corner you in and start asking your opinion on the treatment of animals in slaughterhouses or gun control is to deflect. In this moment, act as if your guests are in need of more wine (even if it’s not your party), the phone is ringing and you have to take it, or the zombie apocalypse has just begun and you need to get in your bunker. Any excuse you can come up with to run away is worth it. Or you can flip the conversation on its end and make the situation positive. Just compliment like crazy and hopefully they’ll forget what uncomfortable question they asked you and are unlikely to erupt into a heated political debate.
    • “Well I think the treatment of animals is so…wow, where did you get those earrings? They really bring out the color in your eyes!”
    • “That’s an interesting question about gun control, but first can I ask you what the best move in football is? I thought an athlete such as yourself would know the right answer.”
  2. Step Two: Play With the Kids: If you’re sitting around bored out of your mind because your favorite cousin couldn’t make it or you’re tired of talking about your major for the 99th time, go find your little cousins. Kids are a whole lot of fun, all they want to do is play games and throw mashed potatoes at each other. Honestly, they’re probably looking to get away from their elderly relatives scolding them for being (crotchety old lady voice) “Twittering, lazy, millennials.” Kids also love it when anyone older gives them attention. Play a game of hide and seek, Simon Says, or freeze tag– it’ll be a blast. Plus, if one of them breaks something or starts to throw a temper tantrum, you can just walk away and blend back in with the grownup crowd.
  3. Step Three: Wear Stretch Pants: I am absolutely convinced that we still celebrate Thanksgiving because everyone wants to cheat on their diet. It is the only acceptable day to eat an absurdly large about of sugar and carbs, and there’s no way I am filling up on green beans when there’s a plate of cheesy biscuits going around. Which is why every year I pull out my classiest pair of yoga pants and my loosest blouse. No matter how much you eat, those pants will be right there with you supporting that food baby while your blouse covers it up. It’s the most strategic outfit to wear when your plan is to devour sweet potatoes and apple pie.
  4. Step Four: Be the Bartender for the Night: Sometimes assuming a role at the party has its benefits. If you don’t want to be washing dishes or refilling pretzels for the football fanatics, the best thing to do is play bartender. It’s nice to do something fun that keeps you busy for the night while lightheartedly socializing with people. Everyone loves the person who gives them alcohol, plus if they make special requests that you don’t know how to make you can just look up a recipe from under the counter. This is the best way to be the most liked guest at the party and maybe sneak a few drinks.
  5. Step Five: Make a Smooth Exit: When you feel your eyelids drooping and the Thanksgiving spirit wearing off, it’s great to have a polite exit. Don’t slap together a poor reason for leaving– nothing says, “I don’t appreciate the hard work you went through to prepare for this mess” like a sorry excuse. Instead, what you want to do is say something believable and short:
    • “I have to be up early tomorrow. I promised my friend we’d exercise together in the morning.”
    • “I have to be ready for the Black Friday madness.”
    • “I drove Grandma here, and I have to make sure she gets home alright.”

Although the last one means you may have to take a ride with your grandmother, they are nice ways of stepping out of the party. And don’t forget, it is Thanksgiving so remember to say thank you!


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How to Survive Thanksgiving Featured Image Credit: The Washington Post.


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