Frankie’s Declassified Thanksgiving Survival Guide


By Frankie Rowley, Content Managing Editor

Thanksgiving break is one of the two back-at-home holidays during the fall semester, and a big celebration throughout the country. It’s a time for loved ones, good food, and spending too much money on things you don’t need because you think there’s a discount. 

But with big celebrations come awkward situations. You might be stuck with your republican family members, or meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time,, or you might even be spending Thanksgiving alone in Boston on or off campus. 

Whatever the situation, we all could use a less awkward Thanksgiving. Here is some extra, totally free advice on how to win this holiday season.

How To: Celebrate Thanksgiving with people of the opposite political party

Ah, politics. A topic you want nothing more than to avoid but somehow always works its way into dinner table conversations, a place it never belongs. Someone always drags the young adult into a conversation to question your political beliefs and try to prove that your college is turning you into a liberal—all so they can prove that yes, their ego is in fact that big. These conversations are often unpleasant and degrading due to the attacking position, always taken by the older, allegedly wiser, party involved, who seems to feel joy from invalidating your opinions.

Try setting some ground rules beforehand and make politics an off-limits conversation. If someone breaks the rule, here’s how to make the conversation more bearable: 

  • Take the high road: Taking the high road can be a hard thing to do, especially when it comes to politics. It doesn’t mean giving up your defense completely, but rather realizing there is a time and place for arguments over whether or not Joe Biden won the 2020 election legitimately. . If a family member takes the attacking position, you can simply diffuse the situation by saying, “I can tell by your tone that you want this to be something more than it should be and I don’t feel comfortable talking to you about such extreme topics right now. When you’ve cooled down and want to have a productive and non-hostile conversation, we can talk. But for now, let’s just keep the conversation light-hearted.” Say something along those lines to let the other person know you recognize they want to talk, but make it clear you want to do so in a civil manner. It is the easiest way to get yourself out of a conversation you don’t want to be in.
  • Be a listener: Should you want to engage in tough conversations, try to listen and take in the other side’s opinion instead of immediately shutting them down. By letting them know you’re listening to what they’re saying, you’re proving your maturity and de-escalating potentially tricky situations. By taking in what the other person is saying, you are being the bigger person. Plus, this allows you to prepare for a comeback to whatever rude comment they might make.
  • Find common ground: Finding common ground can be simple. Steer conversations away from heavy topics (like, ahem, politics) and focus on lighter material. Ask family members how their year has been, bring up any important life events you know that happened and just generally check in. By limiting the conversation to small talk, you can set the boundaries and control which topics are brought forth.
  • Don’t be afraid to walk away: Stepping away from a conversation doesn’t make you weak. Often, political conversations lead to broader attacks against groups of people, which can be traumatic to have to defend, especially if you are a member of any of those communities. Racism, transphobia, antisemitism, xenophobia, and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments should be called out and discussed because it’s 2021, but it’s OK to walk away. Tap out if you’re damaging yourself. Everyone deserves to feel safe on Thanksgiving, and sometimes, you have to be the one to initiate the safe space. 

How To: Thanksgiving with a significant other’s or friend’s family

Celebrating Thanksgiving in a home that isn’t yours or bringing someone into your own home is a milestone in any relationship, whether that’s with a friend or more than a friend. While meeting the family never quite goes to plan, it doesn’t have to be painstakingly uncomfortable the entire time. 

I feel all of you on this one, as I’m being taken home for the length of Thanksgiving break—and it’s daunting. As much as you’re excited to go, the unrelenting pressure can be a lot, but I want to help you try and combat that stress. Here’s a few things to remember when you’re in the arena (er, the dining room table): 

  • Kindness is always a good thing: Never go into a home empty handed. This doesn’t have to mean material gifts, but flowers, cards, or desserts are great ways to win people over (ask about allergies first though, you don’t wanna be that person). If you find yourself struggling to find things to talk about, compliments can go a long way, especially with parents. Comment on the food, their excellent interior design skills , or let them know that you want to talk, but hint at the fact that you need a little help getting the conversation going. Compliments also create a more positive atmosphere and might help lessen any tension. Just don’t go overboard––use kindness as a conversation starter and build from there.
  • Jump in on other conversations: If you hear a conversation, try to join. Talking is a  great way to get to know people. If you’re the one bringing a guest, invite them into the conversation to make them feel welcomed. There’s nothing worse than following someone around like a lost puppy.
  • Find common interests: Starting a conversation with a known common interest or widely known topic––such as celebrity drama, new music, or new movies and shows––is a great way to bond with other members of the Thanksgiving dinner table. Try asking your fellow Thanksgiving attendees what music they listen to, what they read, or where they’d like to travel. Small talk topics can go a long way in a big group.

How To: Thanksgiving with no plans to go home 

Being away from home doesn’t have to mean being alone on Thanksgiving. There are many activities and ways to fill the holiday break without wallowing in the potential sadness that comes as a result of being away from family and friends. 

  • Ask around, see who else is staying: Finding other people who are staying in the city will not only give you people to hang out with, but you can plan to have a potluck or go out to dinner together on Thanksgiving. Friendsgiving can be just as fun as being at home––plus it’s a great way to meet new people and/or bond with those you already know. 
  • Volunteer: Many organizations take volunteers to help with Thanksgiving meals and other planning. Some places to volunteer are listed below (call or visit their websites to inquire about signing up and volunteering criteria.)
  • Have a Self-Care Day: Go for a scenic walk, visit your favorite places in Boston, take yourself out for a nice dinner, or do anything else that makes you feel relaxed and rejuvenated. Take advantage of being alone by filling it with face masks (the fun kind, not the protects you from COVID kind), fancy food, and fall festivities. 
    • Things to do for a self-care day: 
      • Buy some face masks (how many things has COVID ruined that I had to specify which kind of face mask I was talking about?) and have a self-pamper day 
      • Watch fall movies like “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”, “Fantastic Mr. Fox”, “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown,” “Knives Out”, “Good Will Hunting”, or “Little Women”
      • Binge-watch Thanksgiving episodes of your favorite shows like “Friends”, “Gilmore Girls”, “The Simpsons”, “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”, or “The Office”
      • Book yourself a table at your favourite restaurant and have a Thanksgiving meal for one
      • Bake some fall treats in one of the campus kitchens
      • Call your family and friends back home
      • Take a walk through the city
      • Watch a football game
  • Educate yourself on the history of Thanksgiving and support Native American Communities: While Thanksgiving is a day of giving thanks, we cannot overlook the history of racism and deep-rooted colonization that the holiday comes from. Consider taking the day to educate yourself on the history of Thanksgiving. Learn about what issues are affecting Native Americans and what you can do to help. 

With all of that, I wish you the best of luck. Happy Thanksgiving!