And now for a special holiday edition of this column, I don’t feel sorry for you if you fall into any of these home-for-Thanksgiving traps. Going home for Thanksgiving can be a lot. There are perils around every corner. But if you fall victim to the ones I’m warning you against, there’s no one to blame but yourself. So, dear reader, I don’t feel sorry for you if:
You start to talk to the most boring person at the Thanksgiving table. You will be there all night. Because no one is going to save you. You jumped into that shark tank yourself in a passing moment of holiday charity, and now you are going to die a slow death of boring, long stories and a vaguely acrid smell that keeps wafting into your nostrils from god knows where. It could be completely unrelated. But it doesn’t matter because you are stuck. You are now the Mother Teresa of the table, so might as well tie that cloth napkin around your head and start praying for a miracle.
You rekindle your crush on your high school ex. Look, you’re going to go home, you’re going to relax, you’re going to smell decaying leaves and pollutant wood stoves in the air, and it’s going to change you. You’ll get nostalgic. You’ll get wishy washy. You’ll forget where you are and think all of a sudden the perfect solution to your life is to unbury the hatchet and make out with a person who has no place in your life right now. You will start to think that all you need to be happy is a dude in a backwards baseball cap. To hell with whether it makes sense or he’s “what you’re looking for.” He knows your parents! You grew up in the same town! You have a shared history of Taco Bell! But be forewarned. Once the turkey coma is over you’re going to regret it. And unlike ten years ago, this time that backwards baseball cap is hiding a whole lotta of receding hairline.
You drink too much red wine. Now, this is going to happen. In any given trip home, there’s the moment at the family dinner table when you quietly decide, “Yup. I’m getting arbitrarily drunk tonight.” And that’s fine. Just know what it means to be drunk at home. It means you will likely be given a few assignments from your mom post-buzz to “get that ceramic dish from the top shelf” or “honey, look at these paint swatches and tell me what you think.” Your dad will ask you how to attach a picture to an e-mail. Your brother will eat the rest of the leftovers that you had mentally flagged for midnight snacking. All comfortable seating in the living room will be claimed. And you will retire to your childhood room where you will enjoy a twin bed and pillows that have been handed down from the late 70’s.
You take a five-day break from all personal hygiene. It’s tempting. Why would you bother putting on fresh clothes when the pants you wore yesterday are in a convenient pile on your floor and you’re still wearing the shirt from yesterday because you slept in it. And a shower is too complicated because you forgot how to calibrate the water temperature here and you’ve been meaning to wear more ponytails anyway. And once you have leftovers for breakfast, the brussel sprouts have really acted as a tooth brush in a way, scraping off all the plaque from yesterday, so going back upstairs to brush your teeth is sort of a waste of time. But trust me. You will gross yourself out. At some point. You will catch a sight of your schleppy self in the reflection of the deli counter at Wegmans and you will gross yourself out. You can avoid this.
Okay folks, you’ve been warned. Now go out, have fun, and finally cash in on that “ride home from a party, no questions asked,” your parents offered up a decade ago. Happy Thanksgiving 2012!