How to prepare for those dreaded Thanksgiving dinner questions

Thanksgiving Table
Ciera Holzenthal/Creative Commons

You’re sitting around the dinner table surrounded by mounds of delicious food and the conversation is freely flowing. You finally get to see your favorite baby cousin, and the room is full of happiness and laughter. Suddenly, your aunt, who’s always trying to “get with the times,” decides to offhandedly bring up that one Halloween party and costume you posted about on Instagram. Before you know it, your fork falls to your plate. All anyone can hear are the crickets chirping outside. We at the Clog commiserate with your struggle and would like to selflessly provide you with ways to prepare for a few of the questions you’ll be hit with.

1. So how are your grades looking?

This is, by far, the most obvious yet most painful question you could ever be asked at the dinner table. You’re surrounded by many family and friends and this horrible inquiry into your life is usually followed by a large number of head turns and a hushed silence. You debate whether it’s best to lie and give them what they want to hear or be honest about your struggles through the past 13 weeks.

In this case, the best solution is to actually over-exaggerate how horrendously you’re doing. This serves two primary purposes. First, if you execute this well enough, everyone will think you’re simply joking and will soon move on to another topic. More importantly, it serves as a cushion for when your real grades arrive. You’ll likely do better than what you initially said, and everyone will be so proud that you clearly studied hard and picked yourself back up with only the final two weeks of the semester.

2. Who’s the special someone in your life?

This is an attempt, usually by a nosy aunt or uncle, to unnecessarily pry into your love life because their own is likely too dreary to discuss. They also cleverly phrase the question to imply that you already do have someone special, rather than ask “if” there is anyone. They do this to get you to accidentally blurt out what is otherwise private information. Be wary of this tactic, as some secrets are best kept to yourself.

If you do find yourself in this uncomfortable situation, then all you have to do is say exactly the opposite of what’s true. If you’re in a relationship, just say you’re not and hope that all followup questions will cease to exist. If you aren’t, then say you are and have as much fun as possible creating up and describing the person of your dreams. Plus, by the time you’re back home for Christmas, you can blame your (made-up) breakup on your very real finals, and no party gets hurt in the process. A little imagination never hurt anybody, right?

3. How’s the job hunt going? Any plans after graduation? Have you gotten a summer internship yet?

This question is basically “How are your grades?” 2.0. Your parents have asked you enough times about your classes and have decidedly found your post-college life more interesting. Competing with an extremely large number of college graduates across the nation for an extremely limited amount of jobs is already stressing you out more than all of your classes combined. Add on those probing questions from concerned parents and you’re wishing you had more mashed potatoes to stuff into your mouth.

The best way to prepare for this question is to corner a younger sibling or cousin with questions regarding their own academic progress before anyone else has the time to think about your current life fiasco. Your parents, and every other adult at the table, will be so absorbed debating various college options that they won’t remember how interested they were in your own prospects (or lack thereof) just a short minute ago. Plus, you may even get the spotlight as they ask you questions about being a student at the #1 Public University in the World.

We at the Clog completely understand when uncomfortable questions try to probe into the life you intentionally left behind at Berkeley. But, we also know that whatever you may come up against will definitely be better than the inevitable finals you’ll soon have to face. So we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving, and we urge you to enjoy some turkey and good company while it lasts.

Contact Jenisha Sabaratnam at [email protected].