How To Survive All Those Life Questions During Thanksgiving

Anyone with a big family knows Thanksgiving can be rough. Anyone with a small family knows Thanksgiving can be rough. Anyone who has ever sat around a table full of food with adults whose idea of small talk is asking about your personal life knows Thanksgiving can be rough.

 Photo by Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Photo by Annie Spratt via Unsplash

It’s usually okay if the questions don’t get too intrusive and the conversation never turns to politics. Probably, you and Aunt Jenny won’t start shooting bullets at each other across the table just because she asked about your love life.

Every year, my family squeezes about 20 people in one house to celebrate Thanksgiving. We’ve never had any huge arguments break out while passing mashed potatoes (that I can remember), and I’ve only left dinner crying once. I am one of the lucky ones.

Of course, I’ve had my fair share of awkward moments when I’m asked a question that makes me bristle. Sometimes I want to make a snarky remark back so bad but at the last minute, my rational brain is like, “McKinley please HOLD YOUR TONGUE.”

If you want the worst hurt you feel on Thanksgiving Day to be the post-meal food coma, you should probably hold your tongue as well. Instead of saying what you really want to say, opt for something safer. (And, almost always, follow with polite laughter.)

1. So, do you have a boyfriend?

What I want to say: “Nope, no boyfriend! No girlfriend either—ha!—thanks for asking! Yes, I know I don’t need one right now, it’s not like I see my friends’ engagement pics and feel crushing loneliness every night! Of course not!”

What I say instead: “Nope, not right now. Yeah, I’m too busy to focus on guys.”

2. Why don’t you have a boyfriend?

What I want to say: “Because I’ve lost all will to maintain healthy human relationships and plan on growing old with my five cats! I cut myself off from other people in order to avoid inevitable heartbreak! That reminds me, my therapist says hi!”

What I say instead: [see Question 1]

3. Are you still in college?

What I want to say: “Yep! Don’t worry, I haven’t dropped out, so I’m still racking up student loans for a degree that may or may not get me a job when I graduate! The weight of expectations put on me to not fail is still robbing me of sleep! I’m having a blast!”

What I say instead: “I am—just one year to go. I’m pretty excited.”

4. What are you studying?

What I want to say: “English, but please don’t tell me about your friend’s cousin’s daughter who got an English degree and now works at McDonald’s! Or ask me if I’m going to teach! I have enough anxiety already about how I’m going to function in the adult world! Thanks!”

What I say instead: “I’m studying English. Very glad I only had to take one science class. I’m trying to get into publishing, or at least editing. Luckily, I still have a little bit of time to decide.”

5. What are you thankful for?

What I want to say: “The possibility of getting out of this dinner alive!”

What I say instead: “Getting to spend time with all of you!”