Of all the great familial holidays, Thanksgiving is one of the most contentious. Even when you’re able to divorce the celebration from its heinous colonial origins, there are so many other obstacles to avoid: food shaming and body shaming and relationship-status shaming. Political conversation at the dinner table with extended family members who shut down any topics even tangentially nuanced with ham-fisted shouts of “fake news!” Inappropriate “characters” who become increasingly more inappropriate whilst intoxicated. The deep-seated feeling of obligation to keep quiet when things go south and unexpected social traps appear. As you age, these situations are supposed to become easier to traverse. Sometimes they don’t. They usually don’t. And when they don’t, allow me to make a petite suggestion: go to your cool friend’s cool parents’s house for the holiday.
For the last six or seven years, I’ve accompanied my best friend to her home in Portland, Maine on Thanksgiving. I happen to love my parents (yes, I am bragging) but they live much too far away and I’m only going to pay to see them once at the end of the year (Christmas, I’m no monster). Also, celebrating Friendsgiving on Thanksgiving is a ritual everyone should retire in college. So, whenever that Thursday rolls around, I hop on a bus and head north. Here’s what’s great about it: my friend has good politics, and so do her parents and their loved ones. They open wine hours before its time to eat, and everyone is beyond merry. Because it is Maine, one of the sleeper hits of these United States, various seafood offerings enter the traditional Thanksgiving meal. It is perfection, and has quickly become my favorite tradition of the year. (Don’t tell my parents. We’re not big on traditions, anyway.)
If you’re cool, it’s pretty likely that you have a cool friend who was born that way, because of the influence of their cool environment filled with cool friends and cool family. Go to their house on Thursday. I’m sure they will welcome you, because they’re cool. That is simply how it works.