I spend most of Thanksgiving milling around an overheated room holding a glass of wine and making conversation with aunts, great aunts, second cousins, third cousins, fourth cousins twice removed and the great uncle of the neighbor down the street. At this year’s turkey-chomping fiesta, only about one in 10 of the people in the room will be unaware that I’m gay.
Normally, I’m totally down to talk about my sexuality (read: overshare). But I’ve been working 50-hour weeks, freelancing in the evenings and trying to use whatever spare time I have to keep myself in shape. In other words, I really, really need a vacation. And during that vacation, I do not want to broach difficult topics—such as why I’m gay or who I’m seeing. I want to scarf down gravy-smothered turkey, eat mashed potatoes, drink red wine and go to bed early. To prepare for my topic-evasion, I came up with a list of ways to change the subject, avoid the question, distract the asker or gracefully lie. At first, I was going to keep my methods to myself but I realized that they might come in handy for others who aren’t looking to rock the boat at Thanksgiving. If you are failing out of college, seeing someone your parents hate, are unemployed or have something else going on that you don’t want to talk about, read on.
- Stuff your face. Thanksgiving is about eating right?! So when the said unpleasant question comes up, just stuff a bunch of food in your mouth. If the meal hasn’t been served yet, make sure you wander around with some appetizers in your hand. A large stuffed mushroom should do the trick. Just pop it in and hope that in the 30 seconds it takes you to chew the person will have forgotten what they asked.
- Choke. If, after 30 seconds, your fourth cousin twice removed is still waiting for you to answer, start coughing dramatically and run to the bathroom.
- Spill something. Nothing gets a family distracted like red wine on the white carpet.
- Offer to help. Thanksgiving is basically a holiday of preparation so chances are if you look around the room, you’ll see someone who needs help. Offer to carry the plate of mashed potatoes, refill the bowl of nuts or slice some bread. In a desperate situation, you can even offer to help your second cousin with the screaming/crying baby.
- Remember something important. I like, “Oh my goodness I left … something in the car! Be right back.” If they ask later, say you realized you left “it” at home.
- Turn the question around. For me, this only works if the person is younger and/or unattached. But if a family member asks about my love life, I’ll giggle and say, “Who are you seeing?” If they simply say “no one,” make sure to follow up with something flattering like, “Oh no! That’s not possible.”
- Fall ill. I like to say that I feel dizzy and need some fresh air. For me, it always works—and is slightly true—due to the rate at which I drink around my family.
- Lie. I know, it’s obvious. But I left it for last so you’d have to read the entire list.
Happy holidays and … good luck!