Avoid These Topics to Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

This happy family is staying away from sensitive topics. (Getty Images)

It’s Thanksgiving once more, and millions of Americans are traveling great distances to spend the season with loved ones. But with these travels also comes one of the greatest potential pitfalls of the holidays: the awkward family dinner conversation. Belligerent uncles, racist grandparents, and moody cousins can quickly turn a joyous family occasion into a disaster if you don’t successfully navigate the conversational minefield of your extended family. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of topics to avoid around the Thanksgiving table to ensure a delightful, festive occasion.


With more and more Americans dreading this issue, and our country becoming hopelessly partisan, there is little to be gained from broaching the topic at the table. Let the holidays be a time for family bonding over shared memories, not an excuse to get bitterly trapped in our differences.


The economy may be in better health, but that doesn’t mean financial well-being has found all of the members of the family. Do you maybe have a brother and a sister who are raking it in from their jobs at Google and Netflix, respectively, while you’re trapped in the pit of low-paying despair that is freelance writing? Does this seem to bring your father a feeling of immense disappointment? That’s a sign to avoid it this holiday season.


Many tight-knit American families are bound together by their faith. But in a nation of increasing religious diversity, often along generational lines, maybe don’t ask, for the third year in a row, what your son’s Jewish fiancée’s family is doing for Christmas? And no, Gladys, a teenager wanting a tattoo isn’t a sign of Satanism, for Christ’s sake.

The Tattoo Olivia Wants

She’s only my niece, so maybe I’m overstepping a bit. But you know what, Meredith? She’s 17, and she’s old enough to make her own decisions now. And you know what else? Yeah, I went and took her to the tattoo parlor three months ago. Because she trusts her uncle more than her own mother. Maybe if you weren’t so busy being such a big deal VP at Netflix, you’d have a goddamn clue what goes on in that girl’s life.


I’ll talk to your wife however I damn well please, buddy. She was my sister long before she was anything to you. And no, we’re not going to talk about the time my son trashed your stupid John Deere riding mower when you were the one who thought an 11-year-old should be allowed on it in the first place. Like you can’t use some of that Netflix bonus money to just buy a new one when I’m the one drowning in unfair child support payments? Maybe you should just shut up and be glad you get to see your kids on Thanksgiving.

Why Cousin Chris Just Left the Table

Yeah, real mature, Chris. So sorry that you can’t handle it when I bring up how your mom’s pyramid scheme basically bankrupted Grandma Phyllis. Run away from your mom’s money problems, just like you did your ex-wife. And just like you ran from that cop and left 10-year-old me to answer for why we shot that paintball at the neighbor’s ‘57 Thunderbird? I CAN SEE YOU IN THE DOORWAY, DON’T ACT LIKE YOU DON’T HEAR ME.

My Pettiness

Oh, I’m being petty, Meredith? Hey, you know what’s petty? Not sharing some of your huge Netflix bonus with Grandma Phyllis so she could keep her house after Aunt Patty ruined her. I guess buying a Tesla was more important than our grandma not dying in that crappy nursing home.

Grandma Phyllis’ Affair

YOU THINK I’M DEFLECTING? I’LL SHOW YOU DEFLECTING! Oh, yeah. I bet you don’t want that one talked about in front of the kids, huh, Meredith? You really don’t wanna talk about the trunk full of letters we found in her attic. The four-year tryst between her and some Lithuanian boxer called the “Baltic Barbarian.” How do we even know who Aunt Sheila’s real father is? Maybe that’s why she’s so fond of that disgusting beet and potato side dish our brother’s wife insists on bringing every year.

Sir Bubsy

Really, dad? You think I’m embarrassing the family by talking about your mom like that? How about when I was eight years old, and you told me my cat ran away, and then a week later you introduced me to your new girlfriend, who was allergic to cats? You think I can’t put two and two together? WHERE’S BUBSY, DAD? WHERE THE HELL IS SIR BUBSY?!

You know what? You’re right. I should be eating this meal in another room. Another house, even. Maybe with another family! You guys go ahead and talk about my “failed marriage” and how “this writing thing” will “never work out” for me, because I know that’s what you do when I’m not around. If anyone needs me, I’ll be watching Charlie Brown at the kids’ table in the living room. They’re having pizza. AND IT’S NOT GLUTEN FREE, MEREDITH.