The Thanksgiving Dinner is a tradition that’s known every year for bringing together people that don’t get many chances to talk face to face, from every furthest reach of the country, to break bread and share a couple hours of food and conversation. This would work perfectly if everyone was a mute, smiling representation of familial love, like a character from a Norman Rockwell painting. In reality, this can basically turn into a high-calorie, high-stress debate club that’s a little less holiday movie and a little more episode of Maury. If your thanksgiving feast devolves into this sort of intellectual mud wrestling, you’re going to be wracking your brain for a reason to take even a 10-minute break from your uncle who is somehow still fixated on Antifa, or your nephew trying to explain why your grandma should put his inheritance into Ethereum.

The problem, of course, is that every time you leave the table, you’re stuck cooking up another excuse to go do breathing exercises in the basement or to dig those THC gummies out of your suitcase. Trying to think one up in the moment is hard enough even when your aunt ISN’T talking your ear off about how McDonald’s employees don’t deserve $15 an hour because they never give her enough ketchup. That is why I’m here to help, with a cheat sheet of different reasons you can trot out to get away from the suffocating air of a dining table turned battlefield of heavy air quote “logic.”

Up top, we of course can’t forget the classic. There’s a reason it’s stood the test of time. I do have some small improvements to add, however. This is to solve the main issue, which is that you can only realistically do this maybe twice over the course of the dinner before your dad is going to start talking to you about prostate health before dessert even comes out. 

What I recommend is, instead of having a glass of wine or a beer at the table, have a 2 gallon jug of water. You don’t have to go too far into why, just say that your doctor said your salt levels are high, or that you did a 2-hour long YouTube Crossfit workout earlier and you have to make sure you don’t get dehydrated. Say your work is making all the employees piss test Thanksgiving evening to make sure no one did weed on vacation. Honestly, the grosser the better, and as long as you’re putting down a 2-gallon of water over the course of 2 hours, not only will people not ask about why you’re going to the bathroom so much, you probably will be genuinely on the border of pissing yourself, meaning there’s not even a lie to be found.

This one takes only the barest sleight of hand, but it can be deployed almost instantly, as soon as someone at the table brings up gas prices so you can get out of there before anybody says Joe Biden’s name. Just put on a theatrical, acrobatic act of fumbling your fork out of your hands and preferably onto the dirtiest possible part of the carpet. If you can get a big ol’ tumbleweed looking clump of pet hair onto there, no one’s going to bat an eye over you going back to the kitchen to get a new fork.

Little do they know that as soon as you get into the kitchen, you’re just running cold tapwater into the sink and staring out the window, trying to will yourself into the quiet of the night. Once you re-associate, grab another fork and head back into the dining room. Then, you begin part two. Put a LOT of butter on your mashed potatoes or yams of choice. Use your hands, saying the butter’s better if it’s “kneaded in.” Say you saw it on Food Network and your mom might even try it herself. What you’ve done is set yourself up as a literal and legitimate butterfingers. Your slick, lipid-covered digits don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of holding onto decorative silverware now. Next time you drop your fork, blame it on the butter but also on the “forks being weird.”

“Check On” A Fake Dessert

Pixabay

This one is a real masterstroke, if I do say so myself, because it will seem like not only are you not dodging the festivities, but you are actively CONTRIBUTING. Step one, bring some sort of dessert that requires time in the oven or some sort of ongoing maintenance before consumption. It has to be dessert because then, this window perfectly spans the dinner itself. Now, the dessert you brought is not actually going to NEED any additional attention. Just slide a pre-cooked pumpkin pie out of a cardboard box, show up, and explain to everyone that the pie is “par-baked,” meaning that it is MOSTLY cooked, but still needs additional time in the oven. You can explain that you’re doing this so it doesn’t get soggy. Both this definition and reasoning for a par-bake are accurate. They just don’t apply to this actual pie at all, but that’s your secret.

Now, you’ve got a pie sitting in the other room that is functionally operating as a conversational ripcord. No sooner do you need to hear the words “Johnny Depp Trial” than you simply need to look at your watch or set off a bogus alarm on your phone, and explain that you are needed in the pie room. Once you get in there, you can do whatever keeps you mentally sane. Siphon off some of the host’s best scotch. Listen to 10 pages of an audiobook. Watch a short youtube video of some guy silently fletching a bow in a forest. Anything to decrease your aneurysm chances on your return. When it’s finally dessert time, just pop the pie in the over for like 5 minutes until it’s warm. It doesn’t matter if the pie sucks ass anyways, it would be rude for someone to bring it up.

Claim To See A Shadowy Figure

Pixabay

If you’ve got a window in sight, you’re good to go for my final suggestion: simply continually remark loudly to your family that there is a shadowy figure outside, watching you through the window. Insist on going outside to check it out and/or scare the figure away, but repeatedly come back empty-handed. With each subsequent “sighting” add more details about the figure. Glowing red eyes. Long, delicate wings. Let the imagination run wild. 

Go full Rear Window meets Mothman on them. Commit hard enough that not only do you get repeated breaks in the fresh winter air, but so that for the rest of the night, people don’t particularly WANT to talk to you anyway. It’s all valuable groundwork. Heck, start up the shadowy figure talk a second year in a row and you might not have any more thanksgiving dinners to worry about, except for one you get served on a tray next to your pills!

Top Image: Pixabay/Pixabay

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