Don’t believe the other lists. The other lists are wrong.
At this point there are 100s of articles on the web about: Topics Not to Bring up at the Thanksgiving Table. I’m sure you’ve seen them. Typically the suggestion is to avoid: politics, Trump, Russia, more politics, and LaVar Ball. Sadly this year football, Hollywood, and the great new Mexican restaurant down the street are also out – because, well, Trump.
But all those lists that rule out those topics – they’re just plain wrong.
I’m not saying you HAVE to talk politics – if it’s not your thing don’t bother. But we shouldn’t rule it out.
It’s totally reasonable and interesting to ask the question: Do you think Trump got involved in the LiAngelo Ball situation just so he could get in a fight with LaVar Ball, because I mean honestly who hasn’t thought about how much fun it’d be to get in a fight with LaVar Ball?
So, ignore the other lists – here are the unquestionable, undeniable, truths of Thanksgiving dinner. Avoid these topics at all cost:
Nobody cares how you got here. Nobody cares what the traffic was like. And nobody cares how many times you stopped for gas.
Route talk might have been a suitable dinner conversation topic in the 1800’s when there was a better than even chance that if you made it all the way to the family homestead then you likely had to outrun some bandits, bushwhack through the wilderness, and avoid a charging heard of buffalo. But today, in 2017, when each person at the table did EXACTLY the same thing it’s just plain old boring.
“Well, ya see… we put your address into Google Maps and then we followed the directions. It took us on I-95, which is a road, then it had us turn onto the Jersey Turnpike, which is also a road. In some spots there was traffic, in some spots there wasn’t traffic….”
Zzzzzzzzzzz…. I can feel the tryptophan from the turkey kicking in already, I better go downstairs and lie down before I fall asleep face first in my pie.
Life updates about someone no one else knows:
Let’s set some guidelines for this.
First of all, life updates about someone everyone at the table knows are totally acceptable. If it’s a family gathering but cousin Steve couldn’t be there this year – then his mother is totally allowed to offer her perspective on his new girlfriend. I’m guessing she’s not a fan.
Second of all, if it’s a person no one else at the table knows but the update itself is FASCINATING then it’s also fair game. That’s not an update, that’s just an amazing story. Something like:
“Hey, this guy at my work was hiking last weekend and got eaten by a bear.”
Totally reasonable story, fire away.
With that said, here’s what’s NOT allowed:
“The other day I was talking to my neighbor Ginny (who none of you know) and she was telling me that her daughter Margaret (who you also don’t know) just got a new job at the local deli counter. You know the deli where I go to get that ham that I use in my casserole? Anyway, apparently the manager at the deli (the new boss of the daughter of the neighbor you’ve never met) lives up on Screecher Hill and the house down the street from him went up for sale and apparently the family that used to live there….”**
If you ever find yourself telling a story like this, look around at the other people at the table. That look in their faces – it’s not boredom, boredom was 3 characters ago – that look is them wondering:
“If I throw a spoon full of mashed potatoes at her, will she stop?”
**If this story ends with “was Charles Manson” or “was Charlie Sheen” then the story IS allowed, but it’s better delivered as “Hey, did you know Charles Manson used to live on Screecher Hill?” – we can all skip the deli counter prologue.
If you told it last Thanksgiving then you CANNOT tell it again this Thanksgiving even if there are 1 or 2 new people at the table. 90% of the audience has seen the show, move on. If nothing new or interesting has happened to you in the last 365 days then shut-up and have another glass of wine. Heck, have two, maybe if you have enough of them tonight then something interesting WILL happen and you’ll have a story for next year.