10 Topics to Avoid for a Drama-Free Thanksgiving Dinner

thanksgiving dinnerAh, the holidays. That warm and fuzzy time when families get together and smile and laugh and everything is just like a Hallmark card. Or a Folgers commercial.

Or a train wreck. I say that with great fondness, of course -- what's a holiday without a little dysfunctional family drama? Boring, that's what it is. (Not that I would know.) Still, nobody wants Thanksgiving dinner to get so tense that siblings leave swearing to never speak to each other again.

Think about it. Christmas is only a month away. Awkward!

So in the interest of keeping the family peace and preserving one's personal mental health as much as possible, consider studying the following list of hot button conversation topics to avoid at all costs this Thanksgiving. I'm not a counselor or family therapist, mind you -- just passing on some of the things I've learned over years and years of dysfunctional holiday gatherings.


Good luck! And remember, when in doubt, shove a tremendous amount of food in your mouth so you can't possibly answer any questions:

"Dear, don't you think your father was a cheapskate?"


Top 10 Topics of Conversation to Avoid at Thanksgiving Dinner

  1. Long-Standing Sibling Spats. The truth is, if you and your sister haven't been able to resolve that little misunderstanding involving your high school boyfriend for the past 20 years, you're not going to suddenly figure things out yelling at each other across a table your mother set with the good dishes. Eat a dead turkey, don't beat a dead horse.
  2. Divorces/Separations/Affairs. Mashed potatoes and gravy sprinkled with bitterness and resentment? Pass the antacids, please. At the first mention of how your family got so broken to begin with, change the subject. Immediately.
  3. Money. The road to holiday hell is paved with talk about how much money so-and-so loaned so-and-so and how little money so-and-so loaned that other so-and-so and I guess so-and-so just loves so-and-so more! Good times.
  4. Substance Abuse. Here's how the script for this one goes, just in case you don't already have it memorized ... Family Member #1: Another glass of wine? Don't you think you've had enough? Family Member #2: What do you know about it? Screw you, Dad/Mom/sister/brother! You're the reason why I drink in the first place! Yeah, just don't even go there.
  5. Failed Expectations. Either your sister wasted her talent as a classical pianist or you could have gone to Harvard if you just applied yourself ... y'all disappointed your parents in one way or another. When they start dropping hints, volunteer to clear the table.
  6. Physical Appearance. Maybe you put on a little weight. Maybe you lost too much weight. Maybe you should really do something about that hair. Don't justify the criticism with a response. Have another glass of wine (see #4, Substance Abuse).
  7. You Never. As in, you never came to my softball games. You never told me you loved me. You never tucked me in at night. You never blah, blah, blah. I know, I know -- they never did. But why bring it up now?
  8. Big Disasters. Remember that time Bobby tried to build a rocket in the basement and he practically blew up the whole house and thousands of dollars in repairs had to be made? NO. Just say no.
  9. Religion. It doesn't matter what -- if any -- religion you were raised in; if your adult beliefs (or those of your siblings) differ from the creed your parents, aunts, uncles, and/or grandparents believe in, leave God out of your dinner plans.
  10. Politics. See above.

What topics do you plan to avoid at your family's Thanksgiving dinner?


Image via oddharmonic/Flickr

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