11 Talking points for Thanksgiving dinner

This month families will gather all over America to enjoy quality time, and share a marathon Thanksgiving dinner. Can this be overwhelming, with potentially awkward moments? How do you keep conversation flowing as smooth as the gravy?

Man eating a roasted turkey with woman

Photo courtesy depositphotos: used with permission

Here are some talking points for lump free dialogue:

  1. If you have a four-year-old boy at the table, avoid any words reminding him of body parts, since this could encourage an unwelcome exhibition. Ask for white meat not breast, refer to the ham butt as a shoulder, and DO NOT let him get a glimpse of the turkey neck.
  2. Don’t ask Aunt Martha how her recovery is going, when she arrives more sauced than the cranberries.
  3. If you are facing unemployment or jobless, boycott work related topics. You are happy for the success of those who’ve had promotions, but it ruins the festive atmosphere when you sob in the midst of the main course. Don’t be surprised when no one pays attention, since they are focused on sobering up Aunt Martha.
  4. Study the weather report so you can comment on the extended forecast in great detail. This is a filler to evade personal Q&A sessions when someone finally notices your puffy eyes and tear-stained face.
  5. Quell the urge to respond to cousin Joe’s comprehensive, violent suggestions for solving the world’s problems. Instead, stuff a super-sized dinner roll in your mouth, and concentrate on not choking to death. This is still a lower risk than enraging Joe, who packs a pistol.
  6. Will you have trouble with number 5? Have someone nearby, locked and loaded with a super sized dinner role, and license to cram it in your mouth at early signs of an inflammatory rebuttal.
  7. Don’t say the word rebuttal. See number 1.
  8. Designate the ‘grace sayer’ ahead of time, so Uncle Buddy, the lay preacher, doesn’t volunteer. The potatoes will be ice-cold and the gravy congealed as he concludes his forty-minute sermon. Better to nominate Aunt Ruth with her efficient invocation: “Bless this dinner, and all us sinners. Amen!”
  9. When your siblings share tales of your legendary teenage escapades in front of your own teens, pretend to choke on a turkey bone. Once you have ‘recovered’ from this near death experience, your skeletons will be securely stored in the closet where they belong.
  10. Do talk about all the beloved people who are permanently absent from the gathering; parents, grandparents, a sister, a nephew, cousins, aunts and uncles. The younger ones can only know them through your memories.

    Thanksgiving dinner with family

    Most of the people in this family photo are missing and I miss them.

  11. Thank God for all the imperfect people present in your life and family. Give them a hug, mumble ‘I love you,’ and launch into speculation about which team will win the Lions/Eagles game. After all, you don’t want to get too mushy, even on Thanksgiving Day.

Do you have fail safe strategies that keep your holiday get-together civilized? When was the last time you had a food fight? Who do you miss the most this Thanksgiving?

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28 thoughts on “11 Talking points for Thanksgiving dinner

  1. Haha – these all sound very sensible! In Britain, we cope by ensuring such events only happen once a year (Christmas). There is nothing we want to give thanks for enough that we would create another event! 😉

    • You Brits are so smart! Actually I always looked forward to the craziness of Thanksgiving and I do miss it now that so many of my inner circle are gone. All the people talking at once, not listening to anyone else. People getting edgy with one of my sisters made us wait until she had taken 14 photographs preventing us from lifting a fork to our mouths when we were starving. And running out after dinner to go to the movies. Those were the days.

  2. Hi Molly Family get-togethers can be a minefield! Loved all of your tips and also loved #10 on a series note. In Australia we don’t have Thanksgiving but the same rules apply to Christmas so I’ll keep the tips handy.

    • These tips are applicable to any family gathering, Sue, so I am glad you can make use of it. #10 is my favorite tip too. There are so many I miss and their absence is intensified during holidays.

  3. Loved this.

    It can be somewhat challenging to gather a bunch of completely different people around a table for any reason, even when it’s family during a holiday. You did a great job of adding humor to a situation that can be stressful for most.
    I know a lot of us can identify with #10 and #11.

    I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving 🙂

    • I’m sure I’ll be reminded of the timelessness of little boys’ fascination for anatomy as my grandsons grow up. The older one is 4 and a prolific conversationalist. The younger one is two and babbles. They are so entertaining. Glad you can use my tips down under for the next big holiday, Leanne.

  4. Hey Molly! I’m here on the day after Thanksgiving and I can attest to #5 being the PERFECT remedy for that experience. I always have a difficult time keeping my mouth shut when someone says something so incredibly dumb that I can’t help myself. Always good to remember that many of those also carry concealed weapons. I was lucky yesterday. Nex time I will be forewarned! I hope you had a happy day! ~Kathy

    • I’m with you on that Mona. This year the only thing I cooked was roasted squash and onions and I’ve invented a new recipe – blackened squash and onions. 🙂 I’m backing off and everyone is grateful. And my quality control in the dishwashing department has gotten poor marks. So I’ve been banned from the dishwashing duties too! I’m ecstatic! Thanks for stopping by and Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Yes, Laurie, and living in Maine that is a great back up plan for conversation. We just went from 14 degrees to 55 degrees in 24 hours! and from snow last week to rain tonight. Conversation money! Thanks for stopping by and Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Yes, Carol. I believe this is practical advice for all family get-togethers. I have a 4 year old grandson, so I am very careful about #1 & #7. Have learned the hard way. Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  5. Molly, you’ve done it again! Everyone needs to see this Thanksgiving “do’s and don’ts” list.

    My 5 year old nephew LOVES to leap at ANY opportunity to say something naughty. I will be sure to get the breast without saying a word!
    Poor Aunt Martha, why does she decide to get sloshed for thanksgiving? I suppose an intervention would be better served at a different table, other than Thanksgiving! 😛
    I can always talk about the weather. I need to find a meteorologist to join the family. What was I thinking marrying the mail man?!
    I’m glad I have a few years to practice choking to death in front of my future teenage children. I don’t even have a hint of a child, and won’t for a couple of years.. so I’m ahead of the game! Let’s hope I don’t wind up choking to death before I even have to! Prayers please 😀
    I will be thinking of my Grampie who passed this year at my table this year. Actually, Grammie too since she is in NY! I miss them. It is hard to face reality that your loved ones won’t always be at the table! 🙁

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING, MOLLY!! Don’t get in any food fights! Even though they look quite entertaining.

    • The good news is your future children will be fathered by the mailman. It is sad to miss loved ones. They will always live on in you, and I’m sure you will pass on memories to the mailman’s children. Happy Thanksgiving Amanda! Thanks for reading and starting off the conversation on this important topic. 🙂

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