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Discussion Do’s and Don’ts Around the Thanksgiving Table

With Turkey Day right around the corner, parents, children, and siblings alike are scrambling to find things to discuss during seemingly endless, often dreaded Thanksgiving dinners. A gathering of friends and family from all walks of life, Thanksgiving celebrates our appreciation for what we receive in our lives. Unfortunately, this significant fall holiday is notorious for taking sour turns and ending in bitter family disputes. I’ve provided you with a definitive list of the “Dos and Don’ts,” discussion topic-wise, on November 24th.

Go forth and discuss!

→ Strange Californian weather

  1. Weather (pun intended) or not you are spending the four-day weekend in California, exploring the peculiar West Coast weather is always a safe bet around the table. You can be sure not to get any annoyed looks as the discussion strays from the generic and passive “the weather has been nice.” Feel free to examine the inner workings of our oh-so famous temperate climate; perhaps the elders could share a weather anecdote from the olden days. For all those non-Californians, comparing your weather to ours might be a better choice. If the conversation is getting a bit dry, express a few thoughts on our current drought situation, but be sure to educate yourself first (!

→ Music

  1. You know how they say “music breaks barriers?” Maybe they don’t actually say that, but you can use music to close those gaps between you and certain dinner guests! Who knows: is it possible that you and your uncle’s son’s second wife’s daughter share a mutual love for all things Stevie Wonder? Hey, maybe Gramps has a thing for techno! Whatever the case may be, music is a wonderful way to connect with both the older and younger generations, in addition to those really distant relatives you only see once in a blue moon. Worst case scenario: bust out your speakers and play @Bridget O’s “ ‘appropriate’ family music playlist” on Spotify.

→ Plans for Winter Break

  1. This is always, always, always, always a safe go-to. Ask your relatives what they’re doing for the upcoming winter break. Discuss your own plans! Make sure to emphasize that, contrary to universal beliefs, you will NOT be be doing homework all break long; rather, you will be rejoicing over the fact that finals – eye twitch – are over and that you are privileged with a free entire week more than most schools get. If you get along decently well with those sitting ‘round the table, you might even get an offer to spend the break with them…or not––opinions may vary.

Stay. Away.

→ Anything political

  1. All. Things. Politics. Abortion, gun control, immigration, marijuana legalization, minimum wage, euthanasia, death penalty, etc…Especially the election: off limits. Don’t go there. In the wake of such a dramatic (dare I say traumatic?) event, I know many people are frustrated, disappointed, and disgusted––to say the least––but unless you are one hundred percent sure that you and your ENTIRE guest list share the same political views, avoid getting into a political discussion at all costs. Consider perhaps turkey-cutting or pie-baking as a release for your pent-up emotions.

→ College [Applications]

  1. Having just sent in a whole wave of Early Decision applications, in addition to preparing their portfolios for the regular deadlines, seniors are as done as an overcooked turkey when it comes to applications. Don’t ask about colleges; if you’re being asked about colleges, keep your answers succinct and polite––with luck, the inquisitor will get the hint. Why muddle a potentially blissful and decadently food-filled holiday weekend with stressful thoughts you can always put off till later?

I hoped this article helped! In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m incredibly grateful to be able to share my advice with you, eat loads of food, and be a part of such a wonderful community. Have a gra(oo)vy and friendly-discussion-filled Turkey Day!

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