How to survive Thanksgiving with your family

So what are you doing after graduation?

By Brigid Lowney | November 20, 2018 5:43pm

Living Section Editor Brigid Lowney shares her survival guide for college students when they interact with family members at Thanksgiving Dinner. Photo illustration by Molly Lowney.

Media Credit: Molly Lowney / The Beacon

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for family and friends to gather together and say what they’re grateful for. It’s always nice to see your relatives and loved ones, but for many college students, family gatherings bring up a lot questions that we don’t want to answer. 

Family members love to ask us about who we’re dating or what our plans are after we graduate. While these questions might seem unavoidable, there are a few strategies you can use this holiday season to escape the interrogation. 

With that said, I give you Brigid’s Declassified Thanksgiving Survival Guide, a playbook for avoiding the tough questions during the holidays.

So, are you dating anybody?

Whether your status is single, in a relationship or “it’s complicated,” this is never a fun question. But, have no fear. There’s a simple way to avoid this question altogether. 

The “Do you hear that?”: When Aunt Jen asks you about your love life or attempts to give you the dreaded safe sex talk, interrupt her and say, “Wait a minute, do you hear that?” Sit in silence for a few seconds with a puzzled expression on your face, and then say, “It sounds like it’s coming from over there, let me go check.” This will give you the perfect out to escape to the nearest bathroom and hide for the next 20 minutes. 

What are you going to do with THAT major?

Humanities majors know the feeling. Before grandma hits you with the classic “your major is useless,” distract her with this easy strategy: 

The Throw ‘Em Under the Bus: Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and in this case it’s throwing one of your family members under the bus. To get the attention off of you say something like, “Wow would you look at the time! I can’t believe Uncle Joe isn’t here yet. I feel like he’s always late.” Then stand by for a frustrated rant from your grandma about her son’s lack of punctuality.

So, what are your plans for after graduation?

Seniors, this one’s for you. You’ll want to avoid this question at all costs, so you might have to take some drastic measures. 

The Spill: When grandpa hounds you about your post-grad plans or lectures you on the importance of a stable career, slightly move your hand forward and “accidentally” knock over a glass of red wine onto your grandma’s white table cloth. Yes, she’ll freak out, but throw a little club soda on the affected area and you’ll be fine. You might be labeled as the family clutz, but it’s worth it. 

Scenario: A fiery relative throws out an uncomfortable political opinion at the dinner table after downing a few glasses of wine. What do you do?

Ah, politics. The topic of conversation that should always be avoided at family dinners. You’ll have to get creative with one. Go big or go home.

The Fake Choker: Bring a fun theatrical element to your Thanksgiving dinner by pretending to choke on your dinner roll. Start coughing furiously, and wave your hands in the air. You could even get up out of your seat or slam your hands on the table for a more dramatic effect. Everyone will be so distracted by your near-death experience that they’ll forget about the little outburst, and you’ll be the unsung hero that saved Thanksgiving. Hooray!

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

by Molly Lowney / The Beacon

Brigid Lowney is the living editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at