George Mason Law School

Confusion Corner: Being thankful for the food, relaxation and your nosy relatives?

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November 24, 2016

12:04 PM

It’s been a tough couple of weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. On top of the pressing weight of exams, papers and quizzes on your shoulders that you need to somehow finish up before break, there’s also the impending doom of a) the future of America (along with the future of the theater; still bitter that Mike Pence, of all people, got to see “Hamilton” before I did), and b) the future conversations you’ll get to have with nosy relatives over the holiday. These conversations will include, but are not limited to, your grades, your job interviews lined up, your plans for paying the bills and (maybe, just maybe) your vote in the election.

These six to eight hours of grueling conversation can seem to go on for years, and of course, I can’t tell you how to accurately deal with your family’s anxiety-inducing inquiries because each person’s family is unique and requires a specific method of shipping and handling. I can, however, tell you how to accurately prepare for this seemingly-draining experience and enjoy Thanksgiving for what it should be: a holiday solely dedicated to food.

It all depends on what you do leading up to 4 p.m. Thursday, when the turkey is out of the oven, and your aunts, uncles and cousins start pouring through the door, and your mother starts yelling at you to make the bed in your room that no one is going to ever see throughout the day. In order to not completely lose your cool over the cranberry sauce while your uncle starts going over his political views at the dinner table, it’s important to practice self-care. Believe it or not, this goes beyond the basic pampering that a break from school, and sprucing up for your relatives, entails (a haircut, showering for the first time in a week — and without shoes, how cathartic! — maybe even finally using that spa coupon your mom gave you for Christmas last year).

Think about it: you’ve been fighting tooth and nail to get through this semester and have been working your butt off. Now, you get a little less than a week to completely let loose and relax. Now more than ever, it’s important to indulge and do the things you’ve wanted to do while at school but couldn’t because you were always up to your knees in work. For example, I like to watch all of the Thanksgiving episodes of “Friends” in a row to get me in the holiday spirit. If you don’t feel like sticking to a theme, though, but still want to make the best of this Thursday, I recommend watching the “Chopped” collection on Netflix Thanksgiving morning. Staring at food preparation all day will get you hungry enough that you’ll be so busy stuffing your face when dinner arrives that your uncle won’t have the chance to ask about the Neuroscience major you gave up last semester. Another useful distraction? Cooking your own dish for dinner. Look up the fanciest, healthiest most delicious concoction you can find and go all out. Channel all of your nervous energy into making something so if your aunt approaches you cradling a glass of wine and asking if you’ve been “shopping” for any potential significant others you can direct their attention to your gluten free, paleo vegan pumpkin pie.

Or, if none of the above sounds appealing, you could also sleep all day Wednesday (Lord knows you haven’t had time for that at school) so you’re fresh faced and ready to go Thursday with the patience and mindset to respond cordially and eloquently to your relatives.

Treat-yo-self day may have actually been Oct. 13, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use that philosophy this Thanksgiving as well. Whatever can make this break a true “break” for you, do it. You deserve it.

Sarah Salem is a Confusion Corner columnist who sometimes finds herself tempted to wear a turkey on her head like Monica in “Friends” to hide from the holiday stress. 

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  • Sarah Salem