Guide to Navigating Thanksgiving Dinner Small Talk

The Dunster dining tables were packed with students, faculty, and family, as it was the only dining hall open on Thanksgiving.
The Dunster dining tables were packed with students, faculty, and family, as it was the only dining hall open on Thanksgiving. By Jihae Lee

Dear Mom/Dad/Grandma/Great Uncle Stewart/any other family members who will be at Thanksgiving dinner,

I know Thanksgiving is something that you look forward to all year long for the food, great company, and most of all, to welcome me back home by grilling me with all the questions you’ve ever had about my life at college. Let me fill you in on a little secret: as fun as it may be for you to bombard me with a million and one questions, as it turns out, this isn’t so fun for me. So in attempt to make my time at home an enjoyable/bearable one, please do your best to refrain from the following:

Asking me about my classes
Chances are by this point in the semester I am sick of all of my classes and bitter about the lack of sleep that each and every one of them is causing me. This is the first opportunity in longer than I can even remember to get a break from psets, papers, and midterms, so no, talking about academics for the entirety of dinner is not ideal.

Following up with “Hmm, what do you plan on doing with that?!”
Let me be, mom, didn’t you always tell me to do what I love? Don’t make me feel guilty for my infinitely relevant course load consisting of Swahili, Hebrew Bible, and that one class where you read children’s stories. I’ll find a job someday, I promise.

Asking me what it’s like to go to Harvard
I hate to let you down, but my friends and fellow students are the same immature college students that you would find at any other school. I don’t know anyone who cured cancer or won a Nobel Prize, and I’m sure my conversations with my roommates are not as intellectually stimulating as you would have hoped. No classes have been so awe inspiring that they’ve changed my life, and no, I haven’t met any celebrities.

Seeking advice for your child who is applying to college
Aunt Judy, I took the SAT 3 years ago and couldn’t even tell you what the 3 sections are anymore. I also don’t have the secret recipe for getting into Harvard because I’m still convinced that my acceptance, and that of everyone around me, was a fluke.

Speaking to me so much that I don’t have time to eat
If we’re being completely honest here, the only real reason any of us come home is to cleanse our palates with something even mildly better than HUDS. If you talk my ear off for the entire meal, my turkey will get cold and I will be grumpy. Just ask my roommates, nobody wants that.


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