Thanksgiving day is a very dangerous day. With hazards lurking around every corner, preparation is the key. Take these tips to heart and enjoy a stress-free turkey day.
Problem: As a token of your parent’s respect (or lack thereof), you’ve been put in charge of the kiddie table.
Solution: Even a four-year-old can pronounce “pset.” Put those tots to work! And if they keep asking questions about why you’re so depressed and stressed out all the time, introduce them to a certain five-letter acronym.
Problem: All your parents/relatives wish you had gone to Yale/Harvard/Princeton instead.
Solution: Well, so does Susan Hockfield!
Problem: The Turkey is bone dry!
Solution: You can drown your sorrows in gravy, but this recipe has been known to save dry turkey in a pinch. Slice up some turkey, top with red onions, avocado, Swiss cheese, and a dash of balsamic. Toast on some sourdough and top with alfalfa sprouts.
Problem: These people keep on trying to stuff me with food!! I’ve never been so full in my life.
Solution: Clearly you’ve never experienced the hunger of being a graduate student. An infinite supply of free food? Please savor the moment for all of us in the trenches. You never know, one day, you too might be scavenging outside seminars for scraps of fruit and cheese.
Problem: The black sheep of the family. There’s always that one family member who just doesn’t conform, isn’t interested in country clubs or that cruise to Alaska your relatives have always wanted to take.
Solution: As a black sheep, the traditional holiday strategy has been a variation of the Bush doctrine of preemption; go after them before they go after you. But is that really worth it? Will pointing out that Uncle Larry has gained another 10 pounds this year really solve anything? Instead, I say, take it to the extreme, push the envelope. Get so far out there, ba ba black sheep, that they won’t even know what to say. I recommend joining a cult. Either pretend to or actually do in real life. If what Aunt Judith says is true, you need some direction in your life. At least cults offer structure, schedules, and uniforms.
For the non black sheep, instead of pointing out the flaws of your wayward relative, get into the holiday spirit and think back to a happier time. At one point all black sheep were part of the flock, even if that point ended minutes after birth. Regale your crowd with stories from those times instead!
Problem: The Unhinged Relative. This relative has a penchant for brandy and an even greater knack for disruption, ridicule, and general embarrassment.
Solution: It’s best to nip this one in the bud. When making the hard cider, first pour the brandy in a pan and flame it a la bananas foster. This will remove the alcohol but not the taste of brandy. If your unhinged relative can sniff out a weak drink, well then, I wish you all the luck in the world.
Problem: The boastful relative. An extra big bonus this year, a letter of acceptance into Yale Law, dating the head cheerleader. These are all indications of the bigheaded relative. Symptoms include boasting, telling everyone how important he or she is, and making you feel inferior. The prognosis is grim, especially when the counter to “So what do you do all day?” is “I toil at physics.”
Solution: Put the party back into perspective. If there was ever a time to bust out the refugees-in-Africa card during Thanksgiving dinner, this is it. Everyone should be grateful of how lucky they are, new bonus be damned.
Problem: The Thanksgiving talent show. Parents will pit their youngsters up against once another to determine, once and for all, whose child reigns supreme. Extraordinarily true in Asian families. Thanks, Mom.
Solution: There are several options here. You could grin and bear it, try your best, and rue the day you agreed to take piano lessons. Or, you could totally bomb the talent show and never be asked to perform again. Unfortunately, as a consequence of this, your parents will make you practice that much harder. There is a third option: sabotage. Play an instrument? Oh no, a string broke. Are you a painter? I left my paintings at school! Are you a singer? I have laryngitis!
Problem: OMG, I have to spend four days with these people!!!!!
Solution: Hey sunshine, they have to spend four days with you too. Just try to remember, it’s family and you all have the same roots. They embarrass you ’cause they love you. If you saw your uncle Terry dressed up in that cute little Easter sailor suit when he was a kid, you’d embarrass him too. You should be thankful you get to see them a few days a year (and not one minute more!). After all, it is Thanksgiving.
Okay, okay, if you’re still cursing under your breath, when you get back to MIT, start working on a genetically engineered turkey with 10 times the tryptophan. Nothing says happy turkey day like everyone falling asleep together in the living room.