How to navigate Thanksgiving with your significant other’s family

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You’re hanging out with your significant other on the couch, just casually watching movies. You two have been together for a while, and things are going pretty well. It’s a chips and salsa, dumb movie, under the blanket type of night. But nothing could have prepared you for the discussion that is about to be sprung upon you. Your significant other turns to you and asks, “How would you feel about spending Thanksgiving with my family?”

If your feelings for this person are substantial and your personal circumstances surrounding the holiday allow it, agree to the proposal enthusiastically and try not to stress out about it. If you need a little advice, here are some do’s and don’ts we at the Clog have created to help you navigate Thanksgiving with your significant other.

Do offer to bring a dish or ask about the availability of kitchen equipment if you would rather cook something there. You can’t show up empty-handed, and even just showing up with wine or apple cider could be construed as a lack of effort on your part. Make sure it is a dish that isn’t already being prepared and one that you can realistically accomplish. Don’t think you can whip up Bobby Flay’s prime rib if you can barely heat up a hot pocket. Vegetables are a good way to go – grill up a nice asparagus dish with garlic and lemon zest and call it a day.

Don’t get involved in political conversations. It doesn’t matter if the family has stood up from their seats, the hand gestures are flying’ and a plate or two gets thrown. You sit there and smile like it’s the most pleasant meal of your life. Even if your significant other gets involved and you have the urge to defend them, you can’t. Nod and smile like you don’t understand the language they’re speaking.

Do offer to help in all stages of the meal, top to bottom. Does their family need help with food preparation? Setting the table? Watering down the wine they’re giving to Grandma because she is starting to throw around problematic statements? Cleaning up? All of it. It is true that you are a guest, but for the first Thanksgiving with your significant other’s family it is an unspoken agreement that it is polite to offer yourself as a working guest.

Don’t get drunk. I mean, this is pretty much common sense. If wine is being served and you are of age, limit yourself to one glass with dinner and maybe one during post-dinner conversation. Never hard alcohol! Even if some family members are taking shots, those individuals have clearly passed the family test at least a few Thanksgivings ago, so their drunken mistakes will be forgiven. This is not your situation, so keep it together.

Do be communicative. Your partner’s family is going to want to get to know you better, so don’t make them feel like they have to pull teeth to get you to talk. If you are like me, you might have a tendency to nervously babble — avoid this as well. Be engaged and respectful.

Don’t be too anxious. Unless your partner has a family that belongs on a soap opera, you aren’t going to be sabotaged or tortured by these people. Try to relax and remember that Thanksgiving is all about being grateful and humble, and you will be fine.

Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not and however you choose to spend the break, we at the Clog hope you have a great few days off! Try to eat well, rest up and return fully reenergized for finals.

Contact Morgan Saltz at [email protected].