7 Dos and Don'ts For Gathering With Family this Thanksgiving

Opinion: Some of this y'all already know, but you might need a bit of a reminder...

Well, it’s that time of year again when you’re forced to brave a punishing commute to spend time with family members you don’t see or talk to on a regular basis and whom you only “care” about by consequence of your shared bloodline.

Holiday headaches are officially here until 2024. Dig in.

With life life-ing as it does, it’s easy to forget best practices from one Thanksgiving Day to the next, but doing so can make for a far less savory experience than you bargained for. Also, bear in mind that someone had the presence of mind long ago to schedule the two biggest American holidays just one month apart, so it’s worth moving in a way that’ll make your loved ones wish to see your trifling behind again for Christmas.

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That said, here are seven dos and donts to bear in mind this Turkey Day so you aren’t the subject of a gossipy phone call between aunties Friday morning:

Don’t leave the day before Thanksgiving (if you can help it)

I live in Chicago, where driving out of the city takes 15 minutes on a normal late night, but can take as long as a 1990s rom-com if you dare bounce the Wednesday before the holiday, which is consistently in the top-three busiest travel days of the year. This year in particular looks to bring funky weather depending on where you’re coming or going.  If you’re reading this on Wednesday, be cool for a bit, stay away from the airports and highways and do what I’m doing: Head home at the buttcrack of dawn Thanksgiving morning. Your internal rage meter will thank you.

Help your mama in the kitchen

No one ever fell in love with me for my cooking, but I always try to balance that out in other ways during the holidays – Target runs to grab last-minute items, cleaning up the crib, moving around tables and chairs and hitting that sink of dishes when all is done. If you’re a man, recognize that it’s 2023 – don’t even think about planting your butt on the couch watching the Detroit Lions make their way toward the playoffs (fingers crossed) while the women do all the cooking and cleaning. Don’t make me come over there. 

Use discretion in discussing current events with family

There’s a whole hell of a lot going on in the world right now. Debatable current events are running the gamut, from genocide to opinions of a bar-free André 3000 album. I’m always game for a spirited discussion, and my mama’s side of the family does them better than most. But if you know for sure that you have an LGBTQ+ member at your Thanksgiving table sitting across one of those aunties who believes the “Good Book” condemns such things, maybe don’t start a debate that’ll force someone to grab their coat and bounce before the cranberry sauce is served.

Don’t bring the person you’re just kickin’ it with to dinner

 I enjoy the “That’s you, fam? Ayeeee!!” responses from familial menfolk when I bring home an attractive woman as much as the next man. But Thanksgiving dinner isn’t the space for a person with whom you don’t yet see a protracted future. If you’re just bringing an early boo-thang to keep you company on the couch…don’t. Because that same family will be asking about them during Christmas dinner next month after you already cut ‘em loose so you don’t have to buy them a gift, with your cheap a**.

Don’t bring trash food to the crib

This one should be the most obvious. I promise you…no one is interested in your gluten-optional peach cobbler with the celery chunks recipe you got from Gwyneth Paltrow’s website. I realize there’s a larger conversation to be had around the healthiness of what we put in our bodies, but Thanksgiving is simply not the time. Don’t get cussed out standing on "principle."

Don’t bring your mixtape, either

Nobody cares.

Don’t let your damn kids run amok in someone else's house

No way around it: Today’s kids get away with murder compared to when we were young. You see it on the faces of the elders: that bewildered “if that was my kid, I’d be whipping a**” look because 7-year-old lil’ so-and-so is allowed to climb all over every piece of furniture because his parents allow “self-expression.” Keep your little ones under control, especially if you’re one of those parents who feel a way about someone else disciplining them...because there’s no better way to heat up an otherwise chill Thanksgiving dinner.


Dustin J. Seibert is an opinion writer and native Detroiter living in Chicago and Miami. He loves his mama slightly more than he loves music and exercises every day so his French fry intake doesn’t catch up to him. Find him on Instagram and the erstwhile Twitter: @Justice2K.

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