May I Be Excused?

Jacqeuline Cantu

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As if school wasn’t making you doubt yourself enough, annual family gatherings around the Thanksgiving table can make you even more anxious. Yes, I’m graduating soon, Auntie. No, I still don’t know what I want to do for a living.

Family drama is no joke, and if Mom’s feelings wouldn’t get hurt (and her mashed potatoes weren’t so delicious), I would skip out on the whole shindig. With the exception of a few cool relatives, Thanksgiving Day is exhausting and a bit overrated. Before you ask, no, I’m not attacking the food.

What I am attacking is the odd small talk between you and the cousins you grew up with but drifted apart from; the competition between which cousin is doing better in life or school; the unnecessary comments from aunts and uncles regarding your love life or appearance; and, finally, the division between relatives who love talking politics and those who couldn’t care less — awkward.

Most people would say that this holiday is only one day out of the entire year, and, therefore, we should be the bigger people and endure the family drama for a few hours. However, if you’re hot-headed like me, it’s hard to stay calm at Thanksgiving dinners. Don’t be fooled — this isn’t me encouraging you to clap back at everything that upsets you this year. But, if you wanted to, what kind of friend would I be if I stopped you?

Don’t let anybody push you around this year, but don’t be rude when standing up for yourself. Remember, the civilized person is the one who always gets their point across. More importantly, you’re entitled to have an opinion, and you’re just as entitled to share it if you’d like to. It’s not your job to keep everyone’s comments in check, but if you want to, I salute you! It’s inevitable: Aunts and uncles will ask you questions — invasive questions. They’ll give backhanded compliments. Cousins will make their lives seem way better than yours. Ultimately, your family will effortlessly question your life choices and say something problematic at the table, and it’s up to you if you’d like to respectfully call them out.

Personally, my parents warn me to control my temper if someone says something I don’t like at the dinner table. Spoiler alert: I always end up saying something. However, I’ve been lucky enough to keep the peace between myself and others because I try to be respectful in my responses. Confrontation between relatives can be a sticky situation, but don’t let them stop you from speaking your mind just because they’re family.

Stand up for what you believe, by whichever means you feel most comfortable. If you want to do so by talking one-on-one with everyone at Thanksgiving dinner, more power to you. If you’d rather save it for a tweet after dinner, that’s just as great. Speaking up can be done in many forms — don’t let anyone tell you differently!