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There is so much to look forward to on Thanksgiving Day. Aside from the opportunity to give thanks for all the good things in your life, there is also that anticipation of an amazing turkey dinner and the joy of gathering with friends and family.

There are also, however, a good deal of cringeworthy aspects of gathering. Yes, it all sounds very bah humbug, but the honest ones among us will admit it—sometimes that scrumptious turkey dinner comes with a whopping side of awkward conversation. A quick glance at this SNL skit probably has most of us nodding our heads in agreement.

We’ve all been there. People say the wrong things, push the wrong buttons, or maybe even have a little bit too much personality. We know we’re not the only ones thinking, “Wait, what?” when Aunt Betty starts asking personal questions, but this year we’re resolved to take it in stride and be as positive as possible!

When I’m asked if I’m going to settle down and find a man. –Kara

. . . because obviously I’m working too much if I don’t have a boyfriend. (Eye roll, amirite, single ladies?) I know the questions are always well-meaning, so this year I’m going on the offensive: Every person who asks me this will receive an enthusiastic request to set me up on a date with an eligible bachelor friend. Bring it on, 2016!

When I’m asked to share what I’m thankful for. –Monica

I know I sound like a real Thanksgiving Scrooge here, but my skin crawls when someone suggests that we all join hands and share—out loud—what we are each thankful for. It’s probably a pretty healthy exercise, but I can’t help but feel like Tiny Tim Cratchit from A Christmas Carol. This year I plan to grab the person’s hand next to me, and profess my thanks with pride, and maybe even give that person’s hand one of those tiny hand squeezes to go along with it.

When I’m asked how my husband’s [insert: grad school, dissertation, or job status] is going. –Mary Rose

Bar none my least favorite questions at family gatherings are status updates on my husband’s latest professional endeavors. These questions aren’t inherently bad and are surely meant well, but they can’t help but ring of sizing up the man I married. Each time I feel thrown into a loop of trying to put things as positively as possible (even when, let’s face it, everyone knows that dissertations suck for both student and spouse) and feeling weirdly held accountable for the progress of whatever endeavor it is that I ultimately have no say in. This year I’m deflecting to my husband—it’s time that they go straight to him!

When they comment on how I look. –Krizia

“Krizia, you’ve gained weight/you’ve lost weight/you look exhausted!” What does one even say to that? Thanks . . .? Perhaps it’s because I live across the country from my immediate and extended family, so the holidays are one of the few occasions when people actually get to see me. Despite their craziness and general lack of political correctness, I dearly love my family. I won’t get to spend Thanksgiving with them this year, so I’d give anything in the world to hear them comment on my appearance today.

When they ask questions and don’t listen to the answers. –Megan

Holiday gatherings equal small talk in mass quantities. Obviously exchanging life updates is part of the equation, but I hate when people ask you a question and then don’t listen to your response. My mom always told me that simply asking someone, “How are you?” is better than probing about the specifics of their life. It lets them offer whatever kind of response—short and sweet or deep—they want, and it’s easier to avoid a fruitless game of twenty questions. I always make a point of either committing to a conversation fully or finding a way to politely bow out rather than zone out.

Photo Credit: Belathee Photography