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Thanksgiving Survival Guide 101

Posted November 20, 2012, 03:33 PM HST Updated November 23, 2012, 10:10 AM HST
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Vanessa Wolf is a writer who is willing to trade a couple slices of turkey, all her mashed potatoes, and whatever that sweet potato thing was, for your stuffing.

By Vanessa Wolf

The stuffing obsession is real. Deal with it.

As George Burns once said, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”

Sure, the holidays can be harrowing: all of you there together, crowded around a mountain of food.

But how long will it last before someone criticizes your brother’s continued unemployment or your sister-in-law’s parenting techniques?


Have no fear. Here are some ways to put the thanks back in Thanksgiving. Or if all else fails, the fun back in dysfunctional.

  1. Be grateful. Yeah, these people are jerks, but those jerks are your FAMILY. They’re there for you through thick and thin – and even when you wish they’d go away – so you may as well focus on what makes them blessings in your life. Dig deep. Be sincere. There’s something lovable in everyone. Really. Even Hitler had that…well-groomed mustache. Besides, you only have to do this once a year.
  2. Not related to those jerks? Remember one rule of thumb: fake it til’ you make it. For example, if your name is Scott, leave “Real Scott” at home. It’s “Scott-in-law” time! Scott-in-law is a kinder, gentler, and heavily self-edited version of the real you. Scott-in-law drinks in moderation, says please and thank you, and generally makes his wife proud. Just suck it up and put your best “Scott-in-law” forward: Real Scott can cash in for his good behavior later.
  3. Play a board or card game. Pictionary, Scattergories and Boggle are fun for older kids and adults, and there’s nothing wrong with a cutthroat round of Candy Land. No board games at Aunt Vicki’s? Consider charades based on popular movies, animals, or even different professions. Seriously, it’s fun. Just don’t start pantomiming each other.
  4. Welcome newcomers. You’re up again, Scott-in-law. Get the heat off your back by making your brother-in-law’s new girlfriend feel comfortable. She probably has no idea what she’s in for, so you may as well reassure her that there’s room in your foxhole. Find out about her background, her interests, and why she chose to be sitting here with you jerks rather than with her own crazy family.
  5. Put a cork in it. Leave your old arguments, political opinions, and religious views at the door. Haven’t you already lost enough Facebook friends during this last election race? No need to drive a rift between your pagan cousin and your Catholic uncle. Remember our Thanksgiving motto: if you can’t keep it peaceful, keep your mouth full.
  6. Watch a movie together. Are kids in attendance? Check out Elf, Finding Nemo, Rango, or Ratatouille. Don’t forget the oldies: Toy Story; Monsters, Inc.; Mary Poppins or even The Wizard of Oz. No kids in the room? Rent Home for the Holidays with Holly Hunter, Away We Go with Maya Rudoph, or Meet the Parents with Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro. Nothing fills the awkward silences like watching other, fake people’s awkward silences.
  7. Start decorating the tree. According to the merchandise displayed in local stores, Christmas starts in early October. So what are you doing just sitting there digesting turkey? You’re already behind! Put those little hands to work hanging ornaments on the low branches and before you know it, you’ll be headlong into another festive, family-filled holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving and pass the stuffing!

Are you a local artist – sculptor, poet, mime, slack key guitar player, tattoo artist, photographer, pastry chef, performance artist, sand castle builder or comedian – with an interesting story to tell? Know of a great band, artist, author, filmmaker, or event coming to town? Have an idea for a fun or thought-provoking story? Get in touch: we want to hear from you. Vanessa(@mauinow.com)


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