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A Guide To Painless Thanksgiving Dinner Conversations

top view of table with pumpkin pie and fall leaves on it

The season of ghosts and ghouls has sadly come to a close. Neighbors disassemble their giant inflatable witch and pick the fake spider webs out of the bushes trying not to get any sticks or leaves stuck inside, knowing it’s inevitable. As the witch deflates a new jollier face rises in her place and the spider webs are replaced by shining lights.

Wait, Christmas isn’t next in line! That doesn’t seem to matter to some people. It is easy to understand why Thanksgiving is overlooked since it bears no gifts or candy and instead comes with awkward family encounters and conversations that make many individuals wish they chose to stay home and rewatch the Friends Thanksgiving episode while eating a turkey sandwich.

It seems only natural that these encounters are tied to the holiday. Many try to avoid the awkwardness as best they can and skip to the holidays that seem more beneficial to ourselves.

What that says about us as persons aside, it seems wrong to just skip a holiday with such significant historical roots. But how does one avoid the prying of grandparents who just want to know if you’re still seeing that person you broke up with five years ago.

1. Blend in with your surroundings

According to Vanessa Henning, a Colorado State University student, the best method is to just disappear and blend in with the surroundings. “I’m the kind of person who just sits back and does their best to stay out of any situation,” Henning said. This is by far the most passive strategy one can use in order to avoid the cheek pinch of doom.

However, this method may not be the most foolproof since sooner or later we all know that the time will come when your family will find you and force conversation upon you.

2. Avoid hot topics

How do you steer the conversation in a direction that won’t end up being uncomfortable? Briton Colmbs, a CSU student, has an answer to this in the form of an acronym “Never discuss R.A.P.E.” While by itself it serves as a fifth thing not to talk about during the holidays R.A.P.E stands for religion, abortion, politics and the economy. “These are hot-button topics in almost every household and are guaranteed to start some form of argument,” Briton said. “If you avoid discussing any of those topics you should be ok and have a relatively peaceful evening.”

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for getting together as a family and looking back on the year and developing an appreciation for the times you had. However, in today’s politically charged environment this may not always be the case and nice conversations cascade quickly into intense arguments. While you can do your best to sit back and avoid this or steer the conversation in a direction away from current hot topics, an uncomfortable topic will pop up around the dinner table. It may seem easier to skip out on Thanksgiving all together but while you’re there in the sea of frantic cooking, family loudly discussing different issues and children dashing around threatening to trip any and all who stand in their way, look around and notice that despite what you see on the surface this is indeed your family, however crazy they may be. Sure you and grandpa may not agree on most things, but at least he gives you $20 each year and I guess that’s something to be thankful for.