It's coming, people: Thanksgiving.
There's nothing you can do about it. You will not be allowed to sit around alone at home. If you're lucky, you'll be with friends or with a nice, fun, easy-going bunch of relatives.
But not everyone's that lucky. So if you're one of the unfortunates, you know what you must endure at a family Thanksgiving.
10. The long-winded prayer If your family's only as religious as it needs to be, then the most religious person in it will grab this opportunity and milk it for all its worth. Completely oblivious to everyone else around the table straining not to roll their eyes, the preacher wannabe will drone on about Jesus and the bounty in front of you, which is quickly getting cold.
9. The settling-scores prayer "And Lord, though some of us have chosen to test your love by getting DWIs, or not telling their parents they've skipped half their algebra classes this semester, or think they will get a job by sitting around with an xBox all day....."
8. Very strange looking side dishes Aunt Bridget's squash surprise didn't quite come out like Redbook said it would, but by God it's on the table and someone's going to eat it or your Mom will know the reason why.
7. The Tea Party Dude He's related, somehow, but you're not sure how. All you know is he's cracking jokes about "hope and change" and being thankful Osama hasn't figured out a way yet to tax turkey. And if he does get the floor when it's time to say grace, get ready for something about taking the country back. At least he'll remove his "No You Can't" gimme cap for that brief moment.
6. The people who think no one knows they're stoned A little Visine, an Altoid's, they're good to go. And no one will know, especially as you huddle in a group in the corner, laughing uproariously every so often.
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5. Drunk Aunt She'll want to hear everything about your social life at college. And suggest that maybe she could "friend" you on the Friendbook thing, which will remind her about how she got "a friendly request" from this person she knew in high school who was always stuck up. but now shezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. 4. Drunk Uncle He has plenty of sympathetic, man of the world advice for the nieces who he just can't believe how much they've grown.
3. The protracted negotiations over helping with the dishes "Let me help." "No, it's fine." "No, really." "Oh, just go and relax" -- Good Christ, the UN Law of the Sea Treaty was worked out with less protracted formality. Our rule: We offer once; if we get turned down once, that's good for the night unless you change your mind and ask. We don't beg to do dishes or clear a table.
2. Listening to the faux "family" togetherness of the TV crews on the football games These heroes, away from their families, it's inspiring. Especially when the announcers act like they're good buddies with the cameramen and just love sharing an on-the-road Thanksgiving with them. At least we no longer have to hear John Madden yammering on about turducken.
1. The inevitable anyone under 24 trying to go out for the night and everyone over 24 trying to talk them into staying in and playing some games You know it's coming; the tension builds throughout the meal. At some point it's shit or get off the pot time -- you've done your penance, you've sat through the meal, and now it is time to get the hell out of there. All you have to do is run a gantlet of pleading, drunk relatives pressing you to stay around for "just one game" of Trivia Pursuit or Jenga or god knows what.