Take A Breath, It’s Just Thanksgiving

close up of Freedom from Want painting with older couple serving a turkey
This is not your family.

Hey there. Happy Thanksgiving to you. Enjoying your Thanksgiving coffee? Yeah, I know. Soon (if not already), you’re going to have to deal with family.

Last year, even if you won’t admit it to anyone, was actually kind of nice. Thanks to COVID, it was just you and the people and pets you live with. No worries about the cringe-worthy political opinions of family members. But this year, it’s once more into the breach, my friend.

There’s your one uncle, who two Thanksgivings ago told you that if Trump didn’t win 600 electoral votes, the fix was in. That was tough, fighting the urge to scream THERE’S ONLY 538 VOTES, YOU MORON. But then your cousin, who you are convinced had to be the result of an affair your aunt had given how dumb your aunt and uncle are, piped up with “Dad, for God’s sake, there are only 538 electoral votes!” Kudos to remaining calm when he shot back with “Since when?!?”

Then there’s the other uncle, who doesn’t say much. Just sits and stares. His truck full of kinda-violent right-wing bumper stickers does the talking for him. As awkward as his gruff “yeah, not too bad” is in response to anything you say in a desperate attempt to make small talk is, no matter what you say on whatever subject (weather, sportsball, etc.), at least he’s not loud. But that stare…

Your ditzy sister-in-law will no doubt bring up her COVID conspiracy theories, how the vaccines are full of autism chips or whatever. She’s the star of a semi-viral Youtube video titled “Crazy woman screaming at Wal-Mart employee about Bill Gates” (up to 500,000 views now), so best to remain silent.

Mom and Dad are, of course, Mom and Dad. Hopefully, Dad won’t do anything like what he did during Thanksgiving 2017, when he told everyone about his prostate exam during dinner. While Mom sat there quietly staring at her plate, her only defense.

Haven’t even mentioned your QAnon cousin, your nephew who was at January 6, and your brother-in-law who tries to get you to buy Herbalife.

But you prepared for this, right? You read that “15 Tips for Navigating Uncomfortable Conversations at Thanksgiving” in Slate, correct? Or was it Vulture? Or Vox? Anyway, you’ll give that a go until you realize none of the tips work for dealing with your family, which will happen in the expanse of about 20 seconds. At least you can have a second glass of wine to cope.

Oh, that’s right…alcohol hasn’t been a part of your family’s Thanksgiving since 2008, when another one of your cousins got hammered on Carlo Rossi and fell into Mom’s Precious Moments display, leaving behind a mess of regret and tiny pieces of porcelain. One of which lodged in Dad’s foot one night eight months later while he was on a mission to get a midnight snack. The infection eventually cleared up.

So another Thanksgiving is here, with that crazy family of yours, complete with all the awkward, enraging, and annoying stuff they bring to each gathering. Maybe next year, you’ll just say, ‘you know what, it’s just going to be us. We won’t go anywhere, we’ll have a nice dinner here, no tension, just relaxation. And that will be so nice.’

Yeah, right. We both know Mom won’t be okay with that.

The last word goes to a Thanksgiving as dysfunctional as yours.