Topics to try and Avoid at Thanksgiving this Year to Keep the Peace
Thanksgiving is a special holiday that brings together families to remind them of all that they have and how much they should be thankful for in life. Though intended to be a day of thanks, bringing together a loud, crazy desi family can lead to a lot of drama. Try to avoid the crazy this year by avoiding some topics of discussion.
1. No One Bring Up Religion
Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday, so let’s not get tangled into religion on this celebration of thanks. I know you need to know if dinner will be before or after Maghrib prayer or if we need to hold a puja before cooking the Turkey, whatever your family traditions may be, but let’s keep the religion to a minimum.
You don’t need that hypocritical creepy uncle from down the block that follows you in your car giving you lectures on dressing modestly or your hyper-religious cousin to go into a fit of rage because you didn’t let him say grace before eating.
2. Don’t Bring up the Time Fam Stole Yuh Man
I know cousin Nadia is a slut-bag and she was totally texting your man on the down low trying to steal him. I know, you know, even your semi-blind grandmother knows but let’s just try to keep the peace this holiday season. Keep the scandals and drama at a level zero please, no one needs a cat fight or a food fight at the dinner table. We’re here to give thanks, so just let it girl, let it go.
3. Don’t Question the Biryani
If your mother is anything like mine, she needs to have some desi food on the side for “the older people who don’t eat American food.” Whether it is a barbecue, or picnic, we can never make do with just sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers and chips. There needs to be some channa masala on the side, chicken tikka or if you’re Bengali like me, or jhal muri. Don’t question why there is a pot of chicken biryani amongst the usual Thanksgiving suspects of turkey and mashed potatoes. America’s a melting pot, right? Well, that pot o’ biriyani is doing it’s thang. Let it.
4. If You Can’t Say Anything Nice About the Food, Shut UP
Even the best chefs have a hard time cooking large and varied amounts of food for guests because of the sheer quantity of food needing attention. Errors are made. It is common for Thanksgiving dinners to turn into a potluck meal as there is so much food that needs to be served, it makes it easier on the host to have some help from family and friends.
However, just because someone is willing to cook you a meal, doesn’t mean they should—not everyone can “Bam!” like Emeril Lagasse.
Sometimes, the food on Thanksgiving dinner may be …. Umm, horrible? But remember that rule in kindergarten? If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Let’s try to enforce that rule to the fullest this Thanksgiving.
5. Don’t Mention How Your Brother Still Owes You Money
You better believe I’m getting him to pay…the day AFTER Thanksgiving. There are too many people, too much food coma, and no escape on Thanksgiving day for me to spend my day hunting down my brother to get my money back. I suggest you all do the same and keep those money woes deep in your soul for one more day guys, just one more day, and you can hound your relatives to pay back your loans another time.
6. No Motherland Politics
At desi parties, it is common for the dads to congregate in front of the television and discuss the news. Sometimes it is American politics, and with the drastic changes in our government happening today, it is understandable. However, what I’ve noticed gets the dads extra-heated is the politics back home. What is Modi up to? Did you see what Hasina did now? Can you believe what Abbasi said!?!
They get over-excited about the politics of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, etc. when they haven’t lived there in years. I’ve literally had an uncle walk out of a family dinner because he was so passionate about his Bangladeshi politics, even though he’s been living in America for over 15 years.
Don’t get sucked into politics and definitely don’t be the one to bring up the news. If you know your dad’s one to get passionate about his birth nation, maybe give him a pep talk before the family dinner. Don’t forget to keep the television strictly on family-friendly programming so these topics don’t ever come up.
7. Why Aren’t You Married Yet?
“Did you graduate? You have a job now? That’s good, good job beta. Now when will you get married?”
For every brown girl or boy past the age of 22, some version of “why aren’t you married yet?” is the staple question all aunties ask. If you see that auntie who always asks, run.
I kid you not, avoid that ish like it’s the plague. And if she’s keeps nagging you, stuff her with biriyani so she’ll have something in her mouth in perpetuity and will, hopefully, shut her the hell up.
8. How Much Anyone is Eating
It’s Thanksgiving, the holiday of food comas, so don’t worry about how much you’re eating or how much anyone else is eating. This is not the time to comment because the minute you mention to your “healthy” cousin Suhana how much food she has on her plate, you better be ready for commenting about your own eating patterns. Whether you’re a healthy eater who paces themselves or if you prep your body and expand your stomach on Thanksgiving to eat your weight in food, don’t be shy. Do you, boo.
9. Dietary Preferences? Bring Your Own Food
If you’re a vegan or a vegetarian and your Friendsgiving is meat heavy or if you’re gluten free and your family dinner is not going to accommodate, handle your shit because no one wants to hear about it. Eat around the damn turkey. Those cooking Thanksgiving meals have enough stress on their plate with cooking, cleaning, hosting and making sure your friends and family don’t kill each other. Don’t add to that, just bring something for the party that you can eat yourself.
10. Why You’re Still in School and not Married with Kids and a Job like Cousin Maryam
To avoid rishta aunties I’ve gone back to school for my doctorate so that I can use it as an excuse to escape an arranged marriage. The magic of being in school however is wearing off. I’m getting the “you’ll be too old by the time you graduate, you have to find someone now and finish school later” lectures at this point.
Mah bad. I didn’t know it was 1945 and my career needed to be sacrificed for a man.
Though there is more pressure on women to get married by a certain age, men feel the pressure too. So what if Maryam is the same age and on her second child? Can she do a cartwheel while drunk and still manage to bag three hotties at the club? No? Didn’t think so.
11. Couples: So When Will We Hear Good News, Beta?
If you’re a newlywed fresh off your honeymoon and summer wedding, get ready for the “when will we hear good news?” question to be thrown at you from all sides. If you’re a relatively young couple you can manage to throw that question off like “oh no, we’re too young, we want to be more financially settled.” It’s not an answer they want, but most relatives will take it as you two are being responsible and it will remind them of how young you really are. Unfortunately, if you’re an older couple, whether you just got married or have been married for a few years now, get ready for aunties to kill the romance real quick.
The “when are you having kids?” question may be harder to avoid. You’ll hear aunties make comments about how great you’re handling your niece/nephew or baby cousin in order to “encourage” you to have kids on your own. But what if you and your partner have chosen not to have children? This is a concept desi parents won’t understand so be prepped for things to get #Awkward.
The only advice I have for you is smile, change the subject and make your exit swiftly.