A guide to surviving Thanksgiving dinner interrogations

Illustration of a family at dinner
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Thanksgiving can be a stressful time of year for those of us preparing meals and hosting get-togethers. However, we mustn’t forget those of us who are interrogated each year about the same topics like school, political beliefs and relationships. Luckily, we have compiled some fool-proof ways of surviving Thanksgiving dinner talk. 

Smile, nod and say what they want to hear

When you see relatives and family friends you haven’t seen in years, the last thing you would want them to know is that you’ve switched majors from biology to art history, are living with your parents and are still single. The solution? Contort your story into something they want to hear, along the lines of, “I’ve made the conscious decision to spend more time with my parents and explore the right-sided part of my brain, which has exhorted me to mingle with other like-minded individuals.”

Make up an excuse 

It’s now your turn to be interrogated about your love life by Aunt Becky and questioned about politics by your Republican uncle from the South. You can’t stand talking one more minute with them before you regurgitate your over-smoked ham. The door is just two feet away and you frantically search for an escape. Now is the time to make an excuse to leave. Pull the “my friend is in urgent need of my help” or the “my stomach isn’t feeling too well” card … and boom! You have exited the territory of Thanksgiving hell.

Get up and get thirds, fourths, fifths?

You get to the point where Dad won’t stop talking about the stock market and the election cycle, so the rest of your family has resorted to nodding and making aimless awkward eye contact. Half of your plate still has turkey, sweet potato mash and peas, but looks like you need more gravy and cranberry sauce. You are stuffed, but getting up to get more food is better than suffering the never-ending awkwardness.

Point the conversation to your younger relative (preferably one with less potential)

You are clearly the center of attention. After all, you are attending a prestigious university and are the most attractive person your relatives have laid eyes on. Time for a switch. You can either A) talk up another family member or B) point the conversation to your lazy and unmotivated brother to get a good laugh. Not only does this attention come off of you, but you also get the gift of seeing your sibling suffer as well.

Pre-meditate what you are going to say and topics you want to avoid

Go in with a game plan. Thanksgiving dinner is a mission and only the strongest, most prepared person will survive. Strategize what you will say — practice pretentious responses to common questions and set boundaries for topics that are uncomfortable. This will spare you the mumbling and fumbling to questions that catch you off guard and will prepare you for questions that might land you an internship with the rich uncle. 

Despite the never-ending questions and awkwardness, Thanksgiving dinner is a time to give thanks. Smile, nod and thank your family for hosting such a wonderful dinner. When everyone is stuffed and ready to pass out, give yourself a pat on the back for surviving the perpetual conversations. Last but not least, don’t forget to thank this survival guide I’ve prepared for you because you’ll need it.

Contact Geraldine Yue at [email protected].