While devouring a Thanksgiving feast with your boisterous extended family can be joyous, there is always one aunt insinuating you will never find love away from despair. So, before you are thrown into a nest of feral younger cousins, you may want to take stock of your surroundings. Never ask your cousin about their fantasy novel they claim to be writing. You will be suffocated in a cocoon of unintelligible made up words and convoluted plot points that climax in their description of the dwelven uprisings and how that is the real beginning of their slice of life book. Worse, if you utter a word to boring uncle Brandon, you will be consumed by a comatose conversation about the history and evolution of junk mail. The only thing that will put you to sleep faster than his words is the cozy fireplace spot he always stakes out.
Now that you know that socially, your family has more in common with a pack of hyenas than a litter of puppies, you can start planning escape routes and emergency contingencies. The ideal time to start is while your mother is still in drill sergeant mode, ordering that more chairs be brought up in double time. While you are panting up the stairs with one measly chair and your brother is halling up a bench on each shoulder, start crafting some exit plans.
By leaving a chair tucked away in the corner of the mud room you can pretend like you need to put it back down stairs if your dad ever starts talking about the new hobbies he has picked up. Additionally, mix around the cutlery on a couple plates so that you can fake having to fix them if cousin Tom ever starts talking about Joe Rogan and his favorite conspiracy theories. Finally, sneakily take one of the cheeses from the array of appetizers and put it back in the fridge so you can feign just remembering that you should put it out.
With all your escape routes planned, now is the time for a preemptive strike against your most foul of enemies. Your family. Reposition aunt Mary’s favorite crackers near the fireplace in hopes that uncle Brandon will take her out. That way, she will not get the chance to ask if you have given up on marriage yet. Hide all the signs of your dad’s new hobbies that he placed up and around the house. That way, you never need to hear his five year plan that will be lucky to last the next five weeks. While your mom yells for you, run upstairs and grab whatever weird books you can find and pepper them throughout the house. This way you will not need to learn what a dwelf is. Your cousin will spend the night like all true authors wish, curled into a ball with a book, and pretending like they are being social by reading around people for a change.
Finish your preparations just in time for your mother to position her three children on the piano and order them to play. While the first couple of families appear, your mother says “oh do not mind the piano, they are always playing it.” The hardest part of the whole encounter is not laughing when your brother whispers “yeah, we are always playing it, under pain of death.”
And that is how you stay sane when your family comes to town. At least for the first five minutes, until you have to hear how the chemicals in the water are turning the frogs gay. Then you have to explain to your father that, no, the masterclass he took on stand up did not make his dad jokes any funnier, and that his five year plan to become the next Humour Editor for the New York Times is doomed to fail. As the shit storm you call Thanksgiving descends, and you get trapped in a conversation about junk mail, you will realize how much you fucked up. You can not start planning for your family a few hours in advance. You need a few weeks.