In a completely unscientific poll done in 2011 by market research firm Harris Interactive, it was found that out of a 2,462 adults surveyed online, Thanksgiving was the No. 2 favorite holiday. The No. 1 holiday was Christmas.
In addition to loving turkey day, Americans also love to crash their cars on Thanksgiving, as in 2010 it was deemed the second most dangerous holiday to hit the roads. In addition to that news, an iVillage 2010 poll found that 65 percent of people anticipated a Thanksgiving brawl among their family. So compiling all of this (all over the place) data, we see that while people just love Thanksgiving, they also assume the holiday will end in an argument, thus leading to a car crash. Nice.
There are many reasons for family feuds, I've rounded up some of the best or worst or however you want to see it.
10. What time should we eat? Why picking a time frame of when to over-eat can cause such animosity is beyond me, but for some reason we desperately need to argue over start times. Some families insist on eating at noon, while others don't even put the bird in until 4 p.m. This can cause a lot of drama, especially if you have a diabetic or bulimic in the family - they plan this stuff out down to the minute, people. The thing is this, you're going to eat; you understand that, right? So why does the time cause such a big to do? It just does.
9. Can I bring my new significant other? There was a Parenthood episode some seasons back (don't judge, you have not watched this show and it's brilliant) where the family argues with big sister for trying to include her fiancé in the annual family photo. The couple is engaged to be wed for crying out loud, and the family says no dice on him being in the shot. Eventually, they cave, and Sarah Braverman is allowed to include her fiancé in the photograph. Guess what? They break up, and there is a memory of that guy in their lives forever. Inviting the new significant other causes lots of issues because, really, are you going to be together next year? If you honestly, genuinely, truly think that you are, bring him/her. But don't forget, this is the worst time to introduce a new flame to your family; they are crazy and drunk and feel full.
8. I Got Kicked Out of School/Fired/Failing At Life There is a temptation to use the joy of the season to your advantage. "Excellent," you may think to yourself while twiddling your fingers together manically, "I'll tell mom and pop that I got the boot during our holiday dinner." Bad idea! This is going to cause a mess, plus it will ruin everyone's holiday. Seriously, dude, wait until Black Friday to dump your bad news, at least then your mother can calm her nerves with good deals at Walmart.
7. Mom, You Are a Bad Cook Look, I know, you didn't mean to let it slip out of your mouth, but you've had one too many ports and the words just came drooling out like your burgundy salvia. "Aunt Mary's stuffing is so good, much better than yours, right mom?" The bad part is that you insulted your own mother's cooking through complimenting her arch-nemesis, the worst part is that you asked her to agree with you. Bad, bad, bad. Your mom is going to hate you. Luckily, moms don't tend to start huge fights while other people are around, rather they keep this information close to their chest and hold it against you at a later date. That or they cry in the bathroom. 6. Politics/Religion/Sex/All Things Taboo My good friend Jef wrote a post about the ways to keep your Thanksgiving's sane this year, and keeping political chat off of the menu was one of his pieces of advice. I couldn't agree more. Politics and family functions are like ketchup and peanut butter; they are both delicious so why wouldn't they taste good together on a spoon? They don't. As with any time in your life, subjects such as politics, religion and sex are no-nos. Don't even think about bringing them up. Your grandma doesn't understand your political leanings and why you don't go to church anymore. Just let her be happy this one day; she's old and who knows how much time she has left. And she can get pretty snippy.
5. Uncle Brad Came Out of the Closet Many of us have that uncle or aunt or sister or cousin that we just know swing in the opposite direction than they've been pretending to swing their whole lives, and you've even encouraged them to be themselves through issues of Out Smart and copies of The Bird Cage on VHS. But as sure as you can say, "Canned cranberry sauce is far superior to homemade," they pick the holiday to come out to the world. It's perfectly logical: why tell family in piecemeal when you can tell everyone all at the same time. This new information, however unsurprising, will cause at least three members of your family to literally have a cow (OK figuratively). Who will be most upset about this news? Most likely the older folks in your family will get hot and bothered over this announcement as they think "gay" is something you can catch like strep and polio, which they think still runs rampant.
4. Grandpa/Mom/You Drinks Too Much Nothing causes more strife than a bunch of drunken people who don't realize how drunk they are. It's awful. Worse yet is when someone is a genuine alcoholic and the rest of the family knows but can't say anything. As comical as mom on her seventh martini may seem in the movies, without a doubt this will turn your holiday into a mess. Get out of Dodge before this turns ugly. 3. Money, Money, Money! Like politics and religion and sex, money is another base root to most arguments. Studies have shown that married couples argue over money more than any other subject. Thanksgiving just happens to be the kick-off day to the over-spending season, and do you know how much organic turkeys cost these days? A lot. Try as you might, a big blow up over money may just happen, especially if one of your family members has it and one of them doesn't.
2. Divorce/Marriage/Pregnancy As with your Aunt Marge coming out of the closet, bringing up any big news over a plate of mashed yams and dressing is going to bring up some heat, and I'm not talking about the jalapeño cornbread. News of a divorce is pretty upsetting, especially if the married couple is not together to spring the news (oh that's why Uncle Bob is not feeling well), but "I'm pregnant," can be even worse. If the new mom is neither married nor engaged, expect a huge argument.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
There are several cultural stigmas over empty plates or too little consumption, and I have personally played witness to a massive blow up over not wanting to eat anymore. It's so bizarre. My theory is that most people don't want to feel guilty about their own mass consumption, so they project that onto others who are trying to keep their waists small. There are starving people in Africa; why fight over food?
Abby's upcoming storytelling/performance piece "The Jew Who Loves Christmas" opens at the Fresh Arts Gallery on December 6.