Home > #OWS, musing > How to ignore your family on Thanksgiving

How to ignore your family on Thanksgiving

November 27, 2014

There has been lots of advice lately on how to have a civil conversation at Thanksgiving – NPR ran a piece yesterday on “topics both Democrats and Republicans enjoy”, for example, which made me slightly annoyed and amused – perhaps because I am neither – and inspired this somewhat alternative list of ways to enjoy or otherwise ignore your family today.

  • Football, obviously. Few people actually know the rules of this game, never mind the names of the various positions of the players on the field. I personally have been watching football for more than 20 years and I still really don’t know what a tackle or a tight end is, nor exactly how to recognize a blitz. No matter, that’s not the point. The point is to choose a team and root for them blindly. Ignore the long-term brain damage.
  • If you don’t like football, may I suggest An Idiot Abroad, a ridiculous travel show from Britain created by Ricky Gervais. It’s embarrassing and awkward, obv, so relative to those situations dinner with your family will seem seamless and well-meaning. I say this even though The Office, also developed by Ricky Gervais, was on NPR’s list. Also, having a The Office marathon is really not a bad idea either.
  • Drinking. Adults can go for beer and spiked eggnog, but kids can get totally spaced out with just the normal eggnog. I’ve seen it before, it has a crazy high, especially if you add nutmeg. Buy tons.
  • The above suggestions should keep you busy up to and including the beginning of dinner. Be sure you don’t actually talk before dinner, because then you’d run out of things to say during the eating part.
  • For the actual dinner conversation, may I suggest keeping things light. For example, I plan to provoke a fun-loving conversation on who thinks the Ferguson grand jury’s lack of indictment serves justice and who thinks it exposes a broken system. It comes down to who trusts the system and who the system works for.
  • If that seems awkward, move on to white privilege in general. If there’s a denier at the table, throw out some data: black teenagers are 21 times more likely to be killed by a cop than white teenagers, for example, or if that seems hyperbolic, move on to the social mobility matrices for blacks versus whites in Figures 8 and 9 of the appendix of this paper. Nice and aggregate. I plan to use a projector.
  • Hahaha, just kidding! We don’t want to scare the kids. Instead, we’ll stick to the usual, where we enormously overconsume and simultaneously discuss upcoming diet plans, and/or vivaciously and competitively plan our impending holiday shopping whilst worrying about money.
  • For a nice surprise, sign up your whole family for spots on the bus to participate in a Black Friday Walmart protest tomorrow morning in North Bergen, New Jersey. Bus leaves at 8am. Come one, come all!
Categories: #OWS, musing
  1. November 27, 2014 at 7:59 am

    Happy Thanksgiving. Yes the nonsense about white privilege will really stir things up.


  2. November 27, 2014 at 9:19 am

    Ohh c’mon, where’s your sense of adventure if you can’t, just once-a-year, tell some relatives what political/cultural/societal imbeciles they are, while holding a carving knife in one hand and doing your finest Jack Nicholson impersonation.


  3. November 27, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Or become a vegetarian and ignore cooking altogether. 🙂


  4. November 27, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Semantic quibbles make great conversation, for example: I would have thought that not being shot by cops is a right, not a privilege, so more blacks being shot by cops falls under “violation of black rights” not “white privilege.” Everything is relative, so I guess you can call it a privilege which is what makes this a semantic quibble…is there some rhetorical advantage to calling it privilege? Ok, I guess I sort of do see that…it jars you into considering what life would be like without that “privilege”, more so than saying other people’s rights are being violated. Maybe there is something to these semantic games.


    • November 27, 2014 at 9:52 am

      Actually that’s a great point, which we discussed at length at my last Occupy meeting – white privilege generally refers to rights, not privilege. I have the right to not worry my three white sons will be shot by police. Does the word “privilege” actually hurt this conversation? I think it does, overall. But I can’t think of another better phrase.


      • Min
        November 27, 2014 at 1:21 pm

        Rights are part of privilege. Check the dictionary definition. 🙂
        And remember, kids, privilege comes from the French for private law.


    • November 27, 2014 at 10:46 am

      Actually it’s a privilege to teach our children not to rob stores and not to engage in violent confrontations with police afterwards.


      • November 27, 2014 at 10:55 am

        Or actually, the privilege is knowing that small mistakes will be forgiven. Shoplifting, for example. I was caught shoplifting when I was a teenager and they just told me to leave.

        On Thu, Nov 27, 2014 at 10:46 AM, mathbabe wrote:



  5. November 27, 2014 at 9:33 am

    Oh come on Cathy, you know it’s not going to be that exciting, we’re all pinko commies!


  6. Chris
    November 27, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Please don’t tell me mathbabe thinks kids get high on normal eggnog! They know how to add the rum themselves! We save the eggnog for December. :).


  7. Min
    November 27, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    A famous psychiatrist once said that Thanksgiving is the opportunity to sit down and share a meal with people you do not like. 😉


  8. December 3, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Laughed out loud at, “I plan to use a projector”. Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving!


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