Don’t be the turkey at the Thanksgiving table

Illustration by Lindsay Lang

By Haeley Huggard, reporter.

The holidays are coming and so are those out-of-town relatives. You know, that family that you must make pleasant conversation with and answer all their awkward and very personal questions.

At some point, the holidays all have their cringeworthy moments. The best way to handle holiday stress is to try reflecting on previous holiday events that made you feel uncomfortable and see how you can better handle them, should they come up again.

If you’re truly worried about how the conversation will go this Thanksgiving, instead of using notecards for studying, try using them to give a scripted response. Scripted responses can help you give more polite answers to those frustrating questions like “When are you going to settle down?” and “Did you get a job yet?”

Keep in mind that you are not obligated to answer personal questions. If a relative is being too nosy, you can always mention politely that it makes you feel uncomfortable. Or you can excuse yourself to another room. The holidays are about catching up with family members, not interrogating them.

Another way to keep the conversation going is to have little printable conversation starters at the dinner table. Small, notecards make a cute table decoration and they help keep away awkward silence.

In general, it helps to steer clear of topics that can evoke negative emotions of any sort. Try to be sure and avoid topics about politics, religion and family drama, as these are not holiday-friendly topics. A pleasant topic that everyone can enjoy is talking about what your thankful for or talk about a family memory that everyone is fond of.

There is always that one rowdy relative that feels compelled to talk about subjects that make the family feel uncomfortable. If possible, try to steer the conversation to something more pleasant than whatever your rowdy relative is fussing about. Talking about pets or how your children are doing is a good example of this.

If you can’t seem to calm them down, the next option you have is to start a group chat with all your family members. Before you know it, everyone will ignore the fussy relative and be focused on the virtual conversation.

If there is any sort of family tension from relatives or just in general, a fun way to keep your mind off it is to try playing a game together as a family.

A fun game to play before or after dinner is called Gobble, Gobble. Have each of your family members sit at the table. Go around clockwise or counterclockwise and have one family member face the person next to them. Have them try to make their best turkey gobble. If you laugh, you’re out. Keep going around the table until there is a winner.

The holidays are a time for bringing everyone together, even if there are uncomfortable moments. The best thing that we can do is try to make everyone feel welcome and included.

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