Spending Thanksgiving With the In-Laws This Year? Here’s What to Know
The holiday season is descending upon us once again, which means being forced to ritualistically spend time with extended family is virtually inevitable.
If you’re married or in a serious relationship, it also means you have no choice but to involuntarily shack up with your partner’s parents for at least a few days sometime between now and January 1st. If you’re about to spend turkey day with your in-laws, there are a few things you can do to mitigate the psychic turmoil you’re about to endure.
Below, you’ll find a few tips and tricks that should help get you through an entire Thanksgiving Meal with your partner’s whole family.
We wish you the best of luck.
1. When in doubt, do some work
If you have to travel and stay overnight, really lean into how busy you’re going to be. Mention to your in-laws in passing that “work is about to get so crazy”.
Keep in mind the more obtuse your job actually is, the better. The less they understand, the busier you can be and they won’t ask questions. Do you work in finance? Programming? Law? Great! You can get away with this. If you work at a summer camp, you’re screwed. Do your best to mitigate when you leave, and do not take off extra time at work to travel. You can also fib by saying you have a “big project” coming up that requires extra work over the weekend.
Again, this requires you to have the kind of job where you can say the words “big project” without getting questioned about it. The key here? You are limiting the amount of time you have to spend there, and thus, the amount of time you even have to worry about keeping your sanity. Sure, your partner’s family isn’t the worst you’ve ever encountered, but a few days with ‘em is pushing it.
2. It doesn’t hurt to be a suck-up
Specifically, offer to help clean or cook. Take out the garbage. As far as your in-laws are concerned, this can be your only and defining character trait. Help so much that it makes people uncomfortable. You’ll rack up so many brownie points that you could light their house on fire and they’d still like you … probably. To be perfectly clear, don’t light their house on fire. Cash your gold stars in on going to see a movie with your significant other or something.
3. Avoid contributing to the politics conversation
Openly discussing politics, religion or money is always risky, especially when dealing with your in-laws. It’s best to avoid such incendiary topics (or just avoid talking as much as you can). Nod, smile and fill your mouth with mashed potatoes so that when you’re asked a question, you can point to your mouth and shrug as if to say, “I’d love to respond to your query, Great Aunt Ruth, but I can’t speak through these mounds of mashed ‘tatoes in my maw.”
4. Ask them lots of questions about themselves
Steer the conversation towards everyone else as much as possible. Perfect topics include (but are not limited to): kids, grandkids and how great things were when they were growing up. Keep them talking, leaving you plenty of time to zone out and dream of being far, far away.
5. Love football, even if you don’t actually love football
Maybe you already love football. If you do, fantastic! And if you don’t, just fake it. Watch the big game and ignore everyone — this is socially acceptable. Post-Thanksgiving meal, grab some snacks and a few drinks of your choice so you don’t have to get up and run into anyone. Park yourself in front of the TV and just pretend to love it so much that no one will want to ruin your zone. To be safe, look up which teams are playing (and maybe a few names of the players) in the Thanksgiving game and just commit to one. Scream on occasion, make some grunt noises and just go with the flow.
6. Embrace Black Friday shopping
Black Friday is all about commitment. Crowds are disastrous, you will inevitably be pushed and finding the best deals involves some scouting out weeks in advance. Do you like the cold? Too bad — Black Friday is all about freezing your ass off on a long line at 2:30 in the morning. But get into it, man. Show up with a bunch of crumpled mailers and print-outs of bargains, and then excuse yourself (take your partner while you’re at it) to go get yourself something shiny.
And while you’re at it, consider getting them something, too. After all, it is the holidays.