Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks as you congregate with people you rarely see. Everyone’s expected to participate in a symbiotic nirvana of food, drink, and football, but it inevitably ends in horror. To survive, you’ll need a game plan.
The first Thanksgiving celebrated survival. The Pilgrims arrived off Cape Cod in the winter of 1620 and stayed on their ship, half dying of scurvy and disease before moving south to Plymouth. They set up a settlement in March 1621 and were greeted by a native who spoke broken English. He went back and told the tribe, “These people are screwed. Do we want to help them?” No one volunteered until a dude named Squanto, a native American kidnapped, sold into slavery, escaped to London, and joined an earlier exploration mission to America, volunteered to show the settlers how to grow crops. He might have let them starve if he’d known about manifest destiny.
After a successful harvest in November 1621, the governor of Plymouth invited the native tribes to a three-day party to celebrate. They ate turkey and made keg stands for 72 hours, and Thanksgiving was born.
If the settlers survived a brutal winter and were able to break bread with random people, here’s how you can survive Thanksgiving too.
Everyone has an unhinged relative whose life revolves around politics and will turn an innocuous conversation into a political fight. Some will disagree with Republicans, and others will disagree with Democrats, but both can agree when Nancy Pelosi leaves her husband in San Francisco, he gets hammered (too soon?). You’ll never change their minds, so don’t engage.
Avoid them by watching football in front of the TV and refusing to acknowledge their existence. If they corner you, “Irish Out” of the conversation. An “Irish Out” is walking off in silence, giving no reason to leave. Practice beforehand when leaving a party, group, or work gossip session. If anyone asks where you’re going, tell them you’re grabbing a water, you got a text stating your brother died (7th time this year!), or you’re late to run cocaine for the Columbian cartel. The point is to say as little as possible and leave.
You’ll argue if you get trapped in a political conversation on turkey day. Next thing you know, you and Uncle Jay will be in the front yard punching each other in the face because you disagree about how the cost of bananas hurts the socioeconomic strata of the impoverished in Venezuela. Next, you’ll be hauled to jail without soap on a rope, and your husky cell mate will make you his prison bitch. Shut down these conversations by casually mentioning how you removed your pubic lice infestation by shaving your body hair.
Everyone knows Uncle Jay’s pre-diabetic and will lose a limb before next Thanksgiving, but it’s best to ignore the topic. Sitting in front of the TV to watch the Detroit Lions lose won’t work. Grandma Ann’s going to corner you under the auspices she cares about your life. She doesn’t. She’s old and wants to gossip.
Let her talk, agree, and nod. Jay’s fat, and his son looks like the local bartender. Aunt Louis had a kid out of wedlock and didn’t do Kegel exercises to keep her vagina in shape. Nephew Pete disgraced the family by cheating on his wife and not spending time with his kids. Keep nodding. You’re Switzerland – be neutral. The alternative is to stoke the fire and watch Grandma Ann throw rolls at the family four minutes into the ham being cut. Ok, instigate. Those rolls came from Cousin Gabe, who bought them at Costco instead of making them from scratch. They taste like ass, so fuck it.
It doesn’t matter how hard you try to keep the peace at Thanksgiving. It’s going to go sideways. Now’s your chance to ensure you’re never invited back. Start drinking early and mess with everyone. Someone’s going to ruin the day, so it may as well be you.
Pregame before you arrive. Bring a 30-rack of Milwaukee’s Beast Ice minus the six cans you drank on the way. Don’t bother knocking. Instead, barge through the front door with your beer and yell, “Uncle Jay, you are fat as hell. Is your wife still banging the bartender?” Kick Grandpa Vernon out of his recliner, turn on the football game, and set the 30-rack next to you as you yell, “Don’t bother me until the rolls are ready. They better not be that Costco trash Gabe.” This sets the tone for the day.
Pound a beer every 15 minutes and invite Grandma Ann to talk politics. Agree with everything she says. “Hell yes, inflation is killing America, and it’s Biden’s fault due to student loan forgiveness!’ Then encourage her to tell that to your liberal niece who’s $120,000 in student loan debt and working as a cashier after going to Berkley to get a sociology degree. Hit pause on the game and observe. When the argument breaks out, grab the bag of marshmallows in your pocket, and toast them as the party becomes a conflagration.
If you make it to the feast, insult every dish. Some are delicious, but you’re 20 cans deep in Beast Ice, and you’re taste buds are dead. A boss move is to steal Tupperware from the kitchen and snag the food you want before the fights break out. Stuff them in your backpack so you can chow down later. Start by insulting the gravy. People take pride in making gravy when it’s just adding milk to baked pig fat. Say, “This tastes like you fed your baby a raw onion and added milk to his diaper.” Next, target the green bean casserole. As you’re being kicked out, grab the backpack and what’s left of the Beast Ice. This is called the “Drunken Irish Out.”
Get an Uber home because you shouldn’t be driving. When you get home, pour the Beast Ice into the toilet, and break out the delicious food you stole. It’s time to turn on the game and enjoy your spoils, you just managed to survive another Thanksgiving dinner with the family.