Now that I’ve graduated from college, I will be having my very own adult Thanksgiving dinner at my apartment for the first time this year. Also, my family is far away and I’m too broke to fly to visit them. Ahh, the pleasures of adult life.
Even though I’m free to hang out and drink Thanksgiving-themed cocktails with my roomies this year, I have endured my fair share of awkward family holiday dinners. In fact, last Thanksgiving I got physically trapped at the table, because I was wedged into a corner and there wasn’t enough room for me to get out of my seat. I sat there answering awkward questions about college, my love life, and career plans. I also had to listen as two dinner guests got into a heated discussion about how to feed horses (seriously), and I was strongly considering taking the classic little kid escape route: ducking under the table and crawling away.
Fortunately, I’ve learned from my bizarre holiday experiences past. You know you’re going to get some weird questions this Thanksgiving, or at least some that you’d rather not answer. Here are some tips on how to deal with them without running away and while (hopefully) maintaining your sanity. Oh, and with a teeny bit of sarcasm.
1. Are you dating anyone?
Let’s just start off with the most-asked question and get it out of the way. You are a young woman, so obviously you must have a steady boyfriend, right? It’s not like you might be focused on other things, or not interested in a relationship, or just haven’t met the right person yet. You must be dating someone, right? RIGHT?!
Or maybe you are seeing someone, you just don’t want to chitchat with your great aunt Marge about it.
Answer #1 (the diplomatic one): “I’m just too busy with school right now.” This might get you an annoying response about how you should make more time for fun, but your family can’t exactly hate on the fact that you’re taking your (probably very expensive) college education seriously.
Answer #2 (the sarcastic one): “I’m still getting over my breakup with Ryan Gosling/Joseph Gordon-Levitt/insert hot celebrity here. He really broke my heart.” Maybe they’ll laugh, maybe they’ll think you’re crazy. Either way, home free. Bonus points if you add a few tears.
2. When are you getting married?
Oh, honey. Be prepared, because if you haven’t started getting this question already, it’s coming. Particularly from your older family members. They might ask you straight up, especially if you are in a relationship, or just hint at it, but this will happen eventually.
Answer #1 (diplomatic): “I don’t want to rush into any big decisions.” Vague. Reasonable. May earn you a lecture about following your heart.
Answer #2 (honest): “Don’t you think I’m a little young for that?” Ooh, answering a question with a question. You could go on like that all night. But be careful, because your grandparents probably got married when they were your age. Ack.
Answer #3 (really sarcastic): “Actually, I’m making my boyfriend 300 sandwiches in the hopes that he’ll propose to me at the end. Also, I think I could end up with a book deal.” This is probably weird enough to shock your family into silence, at least for a minute.
3. But what about that boy you kept talking about, what was his name… Ben?
There will be at least one family member who refuses to give up when it comes to questions about your love life. Maybe there was a guy, but he turned about to be a jerk, or maybe you accidentally mentioned the name of your casual hookup one too many times. Either way, it’s coming back to haunt you.
Answer #1 (evasive): “Ben? Ben who?” If you do this convincingly enough, you may actually be able to convince your family that they made Ben up. Or… they might see right through you.
Answer #2 (lie): “Oh, he dropped out to follow his dream of becoming an animal trainer. We sort of lost touch.” The weirder the better, because your grandparents would probably rather you didn’t date a guy who would give baby alligators as Christmas presents.
4. How are your grades?
I always kind of hated this question regardless of how I was doing in school. Who wants to talk about exams and papers over eggnog? Oh, right, your family.
Answer #1 (overly enthusiastic): “Great, they’re really, really great!” If this is true, more power to you. If it’s not, just smile and walk away to refill your drink.
Answer #2 (rebellious): “I don’t believe in measuring progress with letter grades.” You are in college, after all. What better time to reject societal norms?
5. What are your plans for after graduation?
Dun dun dunnnnnn. This is a dreaded question, because it’s one of those things that everyone has an opinion about, and feels entitled to share that opinion with you. Even if you know exactly what you’ll be doing after you finish college, you’re bound to run into some skepticism. And if you’re undecided, which is totally normal, you’re facing some serious lectures full of unwanted advice.
Answer #1 (vague): “I’m keeping my options open.” You can go on to add anything you want here, because you’re just talking about options, not actual plans. But prepare to be scolded for your indecisiveness.
Answer #2 (honest): “I’m going to… (insert your plan here).” Then, keep talking. Give way too many details and ramble until someone cuts you off. Head off all nosy questions by dominating the conversation.
Answer #3 (sarcastic): “Oh, it’s always been my dream to become a celebrity impersonator. I figured that would be a great use of my degree.”
[Lead image via Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock]