How to survive Thanksgiving dinner with your dignity intact
Summer Ballentine is the State News opinion editor. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On top of heart-attack inducing portions of food, Thanksgiving also means dealing with uncomfortable questions from relatives, a juggling act if you managed to get invited to more than one dinner and hurdles of other equally awkward conversations with family.
Here’s my advice to surviving Turkey Day with your dignity intact. Happy eating, Spartans.
The inevitable “What are you doing with your life?” questions
Somehow, Thanksgiving makes asking obscenely broad questions about your future acceptable. Facing graduation and not knowing whether I’ll get a job or have to move back in with my mom is stressful enough. Having to explain that to an entire room of people is worse than looking through photo albums filled with pictures of my butt hanging out. Saying “I’m exploring my options” gives you a (perhaps undeserved) sense confidence. It also implies you have viable career choices, even if your most promising prospect might be working at the local Cold Stone Creamery scooping $8 cones of cake-flavored ice cream for the next few months.
Bringing your beau
Coercing a boyfriend or girlfriend to suffer with you is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you have guaranteed support if your grandpa decides to lecture you on how Generation Y unleashed an army of lazy, privileged youngins’ on America.
On the other hand, you’re placing them in the line of fire for every judgmental or overprotective relative itching to make your love life their business. Point being, this is not the time to introduce someone to the fam. Frankly, I’d rather go solo and avoid any potential drama, but if your family loves your uber-successful significant other, go for it.
If you’re alone like me (cue violin solo in minor key), you’re probably already dreading questions about any new love interests in your life, or lack thereof. Normally I opt for either straight up fabricating someone or looking them dead in the eye and saying “No.” Luckily, my friend gave me additional ammo for this year: tell them “I’m just having fun.” Awkward silence will ensue, but at least it’s silence.
To drink or not to drink?
Let’s be real, this shouldn’t even be a question. A few cups of eggnog or a nice dessert wine can take the edge off those awkward conversations about what a major in Residential College in the Arts and Humanities even means. If you’re like me, it also adds fuel to your appetite. Getting the drunchies and heading back for a second round of macaroni is my idea of heaven. The key is riding a good buzz without getting too drunk. A few too many Irish coffees after dinner and you’re on the road to being the reason why those aren’t on the menu next year.
Anyone lucky enough to be invited to multiple Thanksgivings or anyone with divorced parents has a lot on their plate, literally. If you’re forced to pick between dinner with one parent or the other, you’re out of luck. There’s no right decision here, so my advice is to either pick the one with the best food or the one who’s helping pay for college. Your other option is heading to Hogwarts and borrowing a Time-Turner.
Somehow, I managed to squeeze in three dinners this year, which also presents problems. I plan on eating a light breakfast to stretch out my stomach a bit beforehand, then eating smaller portions nonstop all day. If you want to go all out, invest in a pair of pants with what my mom calls an “expandogut-waistline.” You won’t regret it.