12 Topics to Avoid at Thanksgiving Dinner

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The turkey is in the brine, the football is inflated to a perfect 50 psi, and the television is on a timer to turn off exactly when those stupid parades start. It seems you’ve prepared for everything. But there might be one thing you’ve overlooked: thinking of all the things you should NOT talk about on Thanksgiving. Most people open their mouths and let words fly out without thinking a single thought about it. Many a misspoken word can be forgiven, but there are some boundaries which cannot be uncrossed. Here are 12 Topics to Avoid at Thanksgiving Dinner.

  1. Local and/or Ancient Roman Politics

    You have invited people from all over to your Thanksgiving Day dinner. They have all brought different desserts and guess what? They’ve brought different baggage from their local political situations as well. Everyone thinks their own mayor, sales taxes, and bad roads are so very interesting that they never stop to realize it’s all boring. Stan doesn’t even live in the city limits and he’s getting upset about the water department taking over the duties of the city waste disposal department. Then he goes on about how the aqueducts couldn’t carry away the trash of the Roman populace. At that point cousin Nate slams his fist down, grabs his dinner knife and screams “Yes, they could! That’s what they killed Caesar over! And I’ll do it to you, too!” At that point the children start crying. And we have to reassure them that the Senate was actually upset about his being named dictator for life. And though it helps, it doesn’t always pacify the young’uns. All the while you sit there, poking at the peas with your fork, bored out of your skull. Just put down that knife and sit in the awkward silence that family deserves.

  2. Squid vs Octopus

    Can you “spot” the difference?

    Science has yet to prove there is a difference between the two, yet everyone still believes they know which one is which. It’s embarrassing. None of your family are scientists, and yet they all take hard lined stances on the subject. It’s almost exactly the lobster vs. crab debate from last year or the horse vs. zebra discourse of ‘09, but much more pointless and volatile. Steer clear of this subject. Don’t serve any seafood that could spark such a debate. If this does happen, the best of you will wake up from your tryptophan comas and wonder what the heck you were thinking, the rest will carry resentment over the matter well past Boxing Day.

  3. What was the Best Episode of Jeopardy

    Let’s face it, pretty much every episode is the same. This discussion always devolves into whether Alex Trebek should have shaved his mustache or not. If you want to have a conversation about types of mustaches and if they are a good idea in general, then knock yourselves out.  But don’t have this important discussion under the guise of ranking episodes of Jeopardy. It’s not fair to you, it’s not fair to Alex Trebek.jeopardy

  4. The Best Way to Start a Retirement Fundretirement

    If there is one thing that brings a family together it’s money. But money doesn’t always bring happiness and contentment. I once heard from my mutual funds manager that most fights about money are about how to save for retirement. Although the general consensus is to invest in trinkets and subscription based services there are those that often disagree. Financial advisor Ira Roth has been the source of many family squabbles. He suggests stocks or accounts or something less fun. And more and more people are taking hard stances nowadays. So we recommend avoiding this subject all together.

  5. ChristmasChristmas

    It’s still November, yet the shrill voices of children singing Yuletide songs has been scraping against your eardrums for at least six weeks now. Your job has essentially laid you off for four days when you need to be away from the house the most. And to top it all off, Aunt Kathy has decided it’s the perfect time to talk about what to do for a holiday that’s a whole month away. You aren’t even done with this drudgery and you are summoned to negotiate an even bigger ordeal than the one you’re currently trying to navigate as you rapidly slip into a culinarily induced coma. Not only that, but half of your family are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Which just adds to the drama because they are upset about celebrating Thanksgiving in the first place. If the subject comes up, the most diplomatic way to handle it is to start singing “The Monster Mash” as loudly as you can followed by “How do you like mixing holidays now? Huh?”

  6. Cousin Gerald’s Seat on the First Shuttle to Marsmission to mars

    The ticket is bought. It is non-refundable.  It was expensive and probably a scam. But he’s proud of it. He’s proud of the fact that his score on the 20 question IQ test he took on the internet was so good that he was automatically offered 20% off the already low low price. He’s proud that they waived the required physical because he paid with a money order. It’s a time to be THANKFUL. Don’t go around bursting Gerry’s bubble. That’s the kind of conversation for St. Patrick’s Day. Change the subject.

  7. What Knot is Best

    Possibly the best knot for these kinds of situations.

    Dinner is over. Every belly is full. The dishes are stacked to the ceiling with care. And we all know what that means: “Let the Thanksgiving festivities begin!” So you try to take the initiative and hang the Pilgrim Piñata (something no one ever wants to do) and immediately you get an earful from your uncle Jack about how your square knot is the wrong knot and how you should be using a hogshead knot (something you’re not sure actually exists). Uncle Jack’s chastising under the pretense of ‘helping’ is quickly interrupted by your Grandpa’s two cents on how how a fisherman’s knot used to be all you needed to know. Soon all the men and most of the older women in your family are in a heated discussion about knots that no one wants to admit is getting heated, so everyone is talking in aggressively pleasant tones and fake laughing way too much. And the worst of it is, you were initially really proud that you had perfected the square knot in the first place. Avoid the conversation by not trying. Who’s ready for the Thanksgiving piñata?

  8. The War of the Roseswar of the roses

    You DO NOT want to go there. You don’t have enough information to make a valid point and you’re just going to end up looking like a FOOL. Everyone thinks they can hold their own when entering this conversation but no one has actually done any research beyond the occasional episode of “The White Queen” or a historical treatise here and there. The whole thing is a vain attempt to look smarter than your idiot cousin who’s only real skill is BSing his way through life. Good luck with that. Just stuff your mouth full of mashed potatoes and let it go.

  9. The Beatles or The Rolling Stones

    Pictured from left to right: Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith

    Most people either don’t realize or refuse to accept the fact that The Beatles and The Rolling Stones consisted of the same musicians. The Beatles were so famous and out of their minds that they had to create alternate personas just to keep their brains from exploding. In fact they did it twice more. Once as Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and the other as The Monkees. So forget arguing an essentially moot argument. Instead argue if the Rolling Stones were better than Elvis. That’s a valid argument. Argue that

  10. How Dry/Moist the Turkey Is

    Ugh. Small talk. The Thanksgiving version of talking about the weather. It only serves to hurt the cooks feelings or stroke their ego. It’s stupid, pointless, and sadistic. I want to blow my brains out.

  11. Grandma’s Willgrandmas will

    Although we’ve known for years that Mam-Maw only has days left, I must advise that it would be prudent to leave the subject of her Last Will and Testament alone. Remember five years ago, when we found out that she didn’t have one? Well, you nagged her into writing one on her own because you didn’t want to force her into doing something she wasn’t willing to do. But she had already slipped so far from reality that it turned out completely incoherent. And what did make sense would ruin the family for years to come. Well, next year you suggested she write a new one. Too bad for you, because Great Aunt Gladys hired a lawyer and threatened to sue you and cut you out of the will completely if there was any suspicion of foul play or tampering. And it only got worse from there. Cut your losses and get over it.

  12. Any Shared Family Memory


    We use the term “shared” loosely. Any memory that more than one family member might have will invariably be variable. More than that most events from long ago will be so downright contradictory that any outsider would wonder if these people are related at all. A good way to deflect this is to bring up a memory that none of your family share. Unfortunately, this will come at the price of your dignity. That’s right. Revealing your most shocking and embarrassing secrets is a surefire way to keep the rest of the family from shouting you down in dissent and instead keep them shouting you down in disgust. Who are you kidding? There is no possible way to keep your family from fighting. But at least this time they won’t be calling you a liar. Except for your mom, who believes she raised you better than that.

Surely another successful Thanksgiving is at hand so long as you let these sleeping dogs lie. Memories will form like never before and, who knows, maybe some new traditions will be formed, too. Just remember, if some uncouth relative brings up one of these subjects, you don’t have to get involved. And, if there’s any doubt, have a seat at the kids table. No one there is going to write you out of their will.


  • Horace Dunmar

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