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10 Reasons NOT To Spend Thanksgiving With Your Family

By Monica Bielanko |

Has your Thanksgiving ever look like this? EVER?

Thanksgiving is billed as some kind of wondrous family gathering of thankfulness that inspires warm and fuzzy feelings for all who participate. I’m here to say the only warm and fuzzy feelings I get on Thanksgiving are from that first shot from the bottle of hootch I keep stashed behind grandma’s macrame.

And while we’re talking about grandma, let’s just all go ahead and admit that most of our grandparents are still slightly racist. Using the adjective “slightly” is probably being a little generous, even.

Thanksgiving is the time we gather together, hold hands around a bounteous table of food and opine about that for which we’re most grateful. You know, grandma is thankful her stories still air on SOAPnet, grandpa appreciates the magnifying glass he uses to read the paper. Oh, and he’s also grateful for the election and the opportunity to get President Obama out of the White House and by the way, did you know the president isn’t even American, he wants you to know. His birth certificate is a forgery, just ask that hard-working young man, Donald Trump, he’ll tell you. A beautiful head of hair on that Donald Trump, grandpa says.

Your mother-in-law wants you to know that when her kids were babies she wouldn’t tolerate for one minute the way your kids are behaving. When she was raising children she made them toe the line and the way youngters behave these days is terrible. By the way, are you really going to roast the turkey breast-side up? And is that oil you’re using instead of butter?


One bottle of hootch isn’t enough. I just want to lounge around my house with my kids, creating our own traditions that include but aren’t limited to wearing sweatpants, watching TV and not answering the door to anyone, especially extended family members. Here then, are ten reasons NOT to spend Thanksgiving with extended family members.

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How to Survive Thanksgiving With Family

Judgment Day

Turkey day? Not very likely. Thanksgiving with family is more like judgment day. All the underhanded barbs from moms, "Oh, you cut your hair..." Or how about "When my kids were little I took their binkies away at one-year-old."
"When my children were babies I had them all potty-trained by 2-years-old at the latest."
"Oh, you're cooking the turkey that way? Interesting..."
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About Monica Bielanko


Monica Bielanko

Monica Bielanko was raised on the wild frontier of late 1970's Utah. She is a recovering Mormon who married the guitar player of an unknown band. She's been married to her Babble Voices writing partner, Serge Bielanko, for the past nine years. Her personal blog, The Girl Who was in the top ten of last year's Top 50 list. Read bio and latest posts → Read Monica's latest posts →

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15 thoughts on “10 Reasons NOT To Spend Thanksgiving With Your Family

  1. geri says:

    too funny, and i am SO with you on this one. we used to drag the kids to various relatives houses’, and finally decided to stay home, the four of us. even then, i would get all crazypants about making the perfect holiday, until the kids were teens and told me i kind of ruined it by expecting everyone to be who they aren’t for one day. some make believe family and people. so….i listened to them, we ate a ton, in our pj’s, and piled the dishes for another day. those were great great times. highly recommend it.

  2. gwenhara says:

    I’m the one watching football. Screw the gender assignments, I’m a woman and I’m watching football. Don’t even try and make me go to the kitchen. I brought my shrimp dip and casserole to share. Now I’m going to watch football because that’s the price my husband pays for making me go to any family function on Thanksgiving.

  3. B says:

    We stay in our pjs, only changing into cleaner pjs In the middle of the day. It helps that we are 3000 miles from family and airfare costs too much. I prefer it this way.

  4. Katherine says:

    Woah, you know my family? And my husband’s family? How crazy is that! I suppose in some ways we are lucky in that we live pretty far from both of our parents and extended family. We have made the trek to my mom’s a few times for thanksgiving and luckily, it’s really just a boring weekend we try to make as short as possible. None of us have anything in common (nothing: not politics, schooling, TV interests, movies) so we mostly just sit having awkward conversations about people we all know. But whom I haven’t seen in many, many years, so it doesn’t affect me. I suppose I would rather have a dull, uninteresting day that I am yearning to end as opposed to yelling and screaming, which is what many of my friends have. Husband and I have spent the last few thanksgivings at home alone with our dogs and they have been spectacular! Too much food and hanging out. I am currently pregnant with our first (due date is tomorrow, cross fingers for me, please) and we have already decided that we are staying home. If our parents want to come, fine. If not, fine. Not where we want to put our energy

  5. Geri says:

    oh B, i laughed so hard “only changing into cleaner pjs in the middle of the day”. thanks!

  6. Nicole says:

    Yes! The last thanksgiving we spent with family I ended up in tears on the ride home. Between my severely dysfunctional family that fights the whole time and my ENTIRE in-law family who say three things to my husband and I the entire time we are there (not exactly nice things either), I like thanksgiving spent at our own house with maybe one or two phone calls to the families to wish them a good holiday. We did thanksgiving that way last year and it as GREAT–we started with pumpkin pie as our appetizer and no one judged us. This year, since we are pregnant, my husband wants to have thanksgiving with our families again….ugh. Like I’m not emotionally charged enough.

  7. BonnieLee says:

    Ok, won’t let you burst my Thanksgiving bubble… why it’s my favorite holiday of the year: 1) It’s centered on FOOD, hello!?!? 2) All religions celebrate it, so there’s no one feeling left out (except my vegan brother-in-law) 3) it’s the beginning of a 4 day weekend (for most) 4) Sweet potatoes with melted marshmellows

  8. Anonymous this time... says:

    Most of our holidays have been really, really good with extended family…BUT! The last time the branch of the family that is hosting Thanksgiving this year hosted Thanksgiving, oh my God. Not pleasant. Extremely unpleasant, in fact.

    I am dealing with some health problems this year — nothing terribly serious, but it’s going to be awhile before I can get back to normal. That makes the trip we’d have to take to join everyone for Thanksgiving impossible. As much of a pain as the health problems have been, my husband and I are both secretly glad to be staying home this year!!

  9. Highdee says:

    Feeling lucky for a liberal leaning family that we typically spend turkey day with. This year I decided to try and be fair I would invite the in laws out. My MILs response?….”Remember…you didn’t come out for Christmas last year”. Ugh

  10. adm989 says:

    We couldn’t afford to get home the first holiday season after we got married (right out of college, me still in grad school… tough financially/best excuse ever). And then haven’t gone home the few years since. Being across the country helps, and we couldn’t see BOTH families anyway… So we have just started our own traditions (National Lampoon’s marathon+pj’s+mimosas+seafood boil) and invite all of our family to travel cross-country to see us! So far no takers, and as much as we love them… it has been A-ok. Have a great time together!

  11. Jaclyn says:

    This is exactly why I agreed to work this year. Not only will working at least one holiday make it look less shitty when I turn down Christmas and New Years, but it’s the all time best excuse to tell family members why I won’t be able to make it….. Sorry, nobody else could work!

  12. DeathMetalMommy says:

    Well played, very enjoyable.

  13. Mod Mom Beyond IndieDom says:

    Oh…I am so there with you. Family. …and…family. Sigh. I’ll never forget the Thanksgiving we spent at my Aunt’s house. Carving the turkey to find gooey melted plastic containing forgotten innards, crock pot mashed potatoes that had been “crocking” away for so long that they’d become spackle…the rather loud and intense “debate” my brother and I had regarding Howard Stern vs. Rush Limbaugh…discuss!…

    No thanks. The hubby, the kids and I are staying home and watching “A Christmas Story” in our PJs. Natafinguh!

  14. Rachel Shannon says:

    just be Thankful,you are alive to eat,enjoy food and drink’s, somewhere on this planet!you could be DEAD!!!!!!!!! so eat,drink and be merry,or full as a gray tick sucking on a dog! hahahahahahahaha

  15. violinp says:

    Well, the men in your house may not lift a finger to help with the food, but my dad started working in the kitchen before I even got up today. Mom does do a few dishes that she loves to do, but it’s mostly my dad who works everything, because he likes cooking more than my mom does. Calling Thanksgiving sexist because the men in your family are tools is ridiculous.

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