Editorial: How to Survive Thanksgiving

We’ve all probably experienced the fear of coming home from college and being forced into painful conversations with relatives we haven’t seen in the past year.

God I hope nobody asks me any questions we pray to ourselves. But despite our internal pleas, that hope often remains unresolved.

Crowds of cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, family friends and other latecomers begin to ring your doorbell just as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade pulls through their last floats.

After somehow managing to throw Thanksgiving for the past three years, now it’s your turn. woo-hoo.

The gathering quickly splits by generation and ideology as diners enjoy the presented appetizers while waiting to be seated for the main course.

Fingers dance expertly around the pristine vegetable tray, devouring the cheese and crackers, hummus dip, and other cultural dishes prepared by both sides of the family.

At this point, hopefully you’ve followed the buddy system and found a like-minded cousin or sibling to bond with to avoid awkward interactions.

Until an elderly relative inevitably approaches and corners you, armed with a list of questions about your life and career prospects:

How was the class this semester? do you see someone What’s your major again? Do you have a job prospect? Are you being brainwashed over there? Do you use drugs? You look thin, are you eating enough?

Bad, no, journalism, no, no, no, yes.

You’re desperately trying to come up with a good-sounding but realistic lie to get out of the conversation as smoothly as possible.

Pretty soon you’re reunited with your buddy – your cousin Matt – and sit down at the table, ready to enjoy the meal and ignore the political conversation that’s about to begin at the quarreling ends of the table:

“Can you believe Trump is running? again!?”

“He’s just what we need to fix this country!”

“More like what we need to continue giving tax cuts to the ultra-rich while ignoring climate change!”

“You’re just mad that he doesn’t stick to your bright agenda!”

And so it goes on and on, without changing anyone’s mind but always dampening everyone’s spirits.

Eventually the meal ends and the guests begin to leave the arena. Finally you can hear yourself think.

Because that’s exactly what this break should be about: to recover

It’s only as we get older that the off-school days are less about relaxing and more about finding ways to enhance your life achievements and pretend life is okay.

We realize that this image of Thanksgiving may not apply to everyone reading this. For some, it’s a much smaller gathering, consisting only of immediate family and Chinese takeaways.

Others, especially those who live far away or cannot travel home and back, spend their Thanksgiving in Bethlehem alone or with the few friends who are in the same situation.

These are the people to remember as we divert questions from our researching relatives this week.

Because as disjointed and combative as the group can be, when they do get together, there’s a cord that binds all relatives closer than you might think: they’re family.

We might get annoyed by problematic comments from older relatives, or wish that an odd aunt who wears too much perfume wouldn’t insist on hugging us so tight.

But these idiosyncrasies make each family unique.

So as you head home this Thanksgiving weekend, try to make the most of the time you have with your family. And if your relatives quickly become a nuisance, don’t worry. At least that’s a funny story.


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