Kit Steinkellner
November 26, 2014 9:17 am

For many of us Thanksgiving means getting the whole family together for an extended weekend of eating, catching up, and just generally being thankful for one another. It all sounds GREAT in theory. And it can be great in practice! It can also be straight-up MISERY if you’re caught navigating Bridget Jones levels of awkward questions and conversations.

So as you pack up to head over to that rando relative’s house, here’s a list of tactics to employ if the convo takes a sudden and terrifying turn into bizarro-land. Because no matter how much they press you, you actually don’t have to tell your relatives why you’re not in a relationship/engaged/married/pregnant, nor do you have to justify to them why you’re pursuing your dreams of being an artist/entrepreneur/Internet celebrity/whatever. To avoid those quicksand conversations, may we suggest doing any (or all) of the following:

Be the designated grocery store runner

Just volunteer to get ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that was accidentally left off the initial grocery store list. That way, when your mom is like “So WHEN am I going to get grandkids?” you can be like “Oh, hey, we don’t have any pie crust, GOTTA GO!”

Team up with a family member

Sometimes it’s REALLY hard to change a conversation by yourself, and in those cases, it’s super helpful to have someone jump in and change it up for you. For example, if you really don’t want to explain to your grandfather again why you’re trying to be a documentary filmmaker instead of a neurosurgeon, just agree with your sister ahead of time that if you shoot her a pleading look across the room, she has to instantly insert herself into the conversation and run through all her law school anecdotes.

Script your answers

Sometimes the reason a conversation gets awkward is because you are so nervous re: talking about the subject at hand that you fumble and babble and leave a total opening for your pushy relative to continue on the offensive. If you know you’re going to be asked about something uncomfortable, do what politicians do, script your answer so that it’s short, to the point, and ends that line of discussion and then instantly change the conversation.

Keep the conversation entirely on a nosy relative

If you don’t want to talk about yourself, just keep barraging your relative with questions about themselves. Almost everybody loves talking about themselves, you can usually run this racket for a long time before your relative even thinks to ask about you.

Delay, delay, delay

When fielding a question you really don’t want to answer, just say something to the effect of, “It’s a long story, we can talk about it later.” And then just NEVER talk about it. Just keep delaying the conversation with excuses about how you’re around too many people/ you’re not going to be able to get through the convo before the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade starts/whatever. Just delay into infinity and beyond.

Pretend to be asleep

There are SO many reasons to be sleepy on Thanksgiving! You drove so far! You cooked so much! You ate all those chemicals in the turkey that make you nap forever! So if you don’t feel like dealing with the fam, just pretend to go to sleep. Or really go to sleep! Or alternate between the two.

Just be honest about not wanting to talk about that thing

Sometimes honesty actually is the best policy. You can do acrobatics around avoiding a topic of conversation OR you can just say, “Thanks so much for asking, but I’m not in a place right now where I want to talk about that.” And if your family keeps pushing, just keep repeating the line (or whatever your version of the line is). Eventually they will get bored and move on to bothering someone else.

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