Home > Life > Safe Topics for the Holidays: Stick to the Turkey

Safe Topics for the Holidays: Stick to the Turkey

People are evidently nervous this time of year. I’m seeing a myriad of “How to Survive the Holiday” topics in the blogosphere, and #StuffBetterFast is trending on Twitter. North America is buzzing with hints and tips on surviving this time of year, when we are stuck inside with no choice but to engage our extended family in scintillating conversation.

This can be a terrifying prospect, wherein the only solution can be found in the bottom of a bottle, be it ruby red or palest garnet. I, however, have been handed an extended family which frowns upon such liquids which might put a hint of joy in an otherwise morose day. My sober state has paid off in spades however: I’ve learned how to talk about absolutely nothing with ease, and at length.

If you, too, want to navigate the holidays free of catastrophe, stick to the following topics:

1. The cooking of the turkey. Is the white meat moist, while the dark meat still falls off the bone? Bonus points! This will always vary from holiday to holiday, so bears mentioning, and will allow you to explore the meals of holidays past, wistfully or otherwise.

2. The texture of the turkey. Is it gamey? Bland? Does it melt in your mouth? This can be explored while the gravy is being passed around, and don’t forget the cranberry sauce in the event of an overdone bird.

3. Where did the turkey hail from? Usually good for a tale involving lineups and holiday frenzy. Beware the temptation to sojourn into the topic of organic, free-range turkeys, however, as this can lead to polarization from one’s relatives. Ahem.

4. The turkey accessories. Do the carrots complement the dinner? What is the consistency of the mashed potatoes? Is the gravy perfectly lump-free? Is the group assembled pro-brussel sprouts or con? (For some reason we share a collective forgetfulness with this issue, so need to revisit it each occasion, but it never gets old.) The turkey accompaniments can provide you with minutes of frivolity; play around a little and have some fun.

5. The temperature of the meal. Is everything bubbling hot? The water ice cold? This can naturally send you into another blissfully safe topic to round out the meal: the weather.

Now, if you sail through these topics before second helpings are distributed, or Aunt Betty’s apple pie is polished off,  you can always revert to my standby: round table bets on how many dinners will be gleaned from leftovers. Add a quarter to the pot to add excitement and intrigue.

Generally, if you stick to the above conversational points, being sure to lean on the positives of the meal, while downplaying the negatives, you should be able to navigate your way through the entire meal without offending anyone, and you can retire to your football game stuffed, but otherwise intact. (Or in my case, a scene out of 1950, where the men retire to the football game and the women clean up the mess.)

It goes without saying that politics, greenhouse gases, the deficit, the euro crisis, whether fighting in hockey should be banned, ‘who is Kim Kardashian anyway?’, Glee, and anything else that could be considered remotely interesting, are all potentially hot topics which could leave someone in tears. Engage in these controversial subjects at your own risk, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Easter will be here before you know it.

  1. November 22, 2011 at 9:59 am

    What a fun idea for a post. I will keep these tips handy for Thursday–may even write them on my wrist for easy reference. Hope you have a lovely week, my friend.

    • November 22, 2011 at 4:51 pm

      Or alternatively, just get drunk…Happy Thanksgiving, Kathy.

  2. Joanne Lawlor
    November 22, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    What about the cranberry sauce with the rings still showing? Loved that one!

    • November 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm

      Those just-out-of-the-can rings will be wavering in that cranberry jelly as we shoot the titillating breeze across the table.

  3. November 22, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    So I take it I should NOT get into a political debate with my grouchy grandma? Turkey talk is interesting enough, I guess 🙂

    • November 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm

      Mention Rick Perry at your own peril. Dancing around touchy subjects is truly an art form!

  4. December 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    This is why I don’t go to parties, especially during the holidays. Not that I get invited to parties, but if I did, I wouldn’t go. Small talk drives me insane, especially when I can’t even hear the person standing next to me. Having to yell, “No, I think it’s lemon frosting!” at the top of my lungs is too unbearable.

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