Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means turkey, football and relatives who are w-a-y too nosy. Don’t get me wrong, family time is wonderful. We get to talk to cousins we haven’t seen in a year, see how big our nieces and nephews have grown and laugh about how silly we were when we were kids. But then there’s the times that you show up solo to dinner and the questions start. You know the ones I’m talking about: “Still no special someone?” asks your uncle. “Why aren’t you married yet? You’re so attractive,” suggests the aunt who has no filter. “Are you sure you’re not gay? Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” inquires Mom. And then there’s the grandparents who are still begging us to date their golf partner’s nephew. Talk about a nightmare.

All of the questions can really get overwhelming. So if you’re already dreading those awkward questions and conversations, here are a few tips on how to survive all of that familial bonding this Thanksgiving:

  1. Bring Secret Reading Material

Winter coverI’m never more than a few feet from a book, especially on high-pressure holidays. Here’s the one I’m bringing to Thanksgiving this year: Winter (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer (Feiwel & Friends; November 10, 2015).

In her Lunar Chronicles, Meyer reimagines fairy tales set in a distant, sci-fi world. In this final novel in the series, she tackles the story of Princess Winter, a beloved ruler with an evil stepmother who will do anything to destroy her. I can’t wait to dive into this retelling of Snow White, even if that means ignoring my relatives and sneaking out to the car for a little reading break.

  1. Have Safe Topics Ready to Go

Things usually fall apart when that one uncle starts talking about politics. Then a couple bickers over the stuffing, and Grandma gets progressively more shrill. Save the day by having a few talking points that everyone enjoys. For example:

  • Jamie’s abs on Outlander. EVERYONE loves Jamie, especially when he’s not wearing a shirt. And it might keep mom from asking you once again to declare just who you’re looking for.


Jamie Fraser shirtless

  • How awesome the new Star Wars movie will be (Hint: SO awesome).
  • Fun facts, like: for every human on earth, there are 1.6 million ants. Or: you’re twice as likely to be killed by a vending machine than a shark. These are the kind of interesting tidbits that too-loud, Right-wing uncles live for.
  1. Distract Them with Games

My family loves Scrabble, Clue, Cards Against Humanity and taunting anyone who loses. We’re a pretty competitive bunch, but games ironically seem to mellow us out (even with all the name calling). Check out BookTrib’s word games list for some great distraction tools this Holiday season.

  1. Distract Yourself with Netflix

If distracting them won’t work, then grab your phone and hide in a broom closet to bingewatch something awesome. I suggest Master of None, the new Aziz Ansari comedy/drama now streaming on Netflix. Ansari stars as Dev, a New York actor navigating love, friendships, work, race, and, yes, family:

Ansari’s real-life parents play his parents on the show, which means they had to spend hundreds of hours working together over the past year. Just keep that in mind when your mom nags you for not helping out with the Thanksgiving dishes.

  1. When All Else Fails, Turn to the Comfort of Pie (and Maybe Booze)

Oh, who are we kidding—definitely turn to booze. Don’t ask me why, but Kahlua is my Thanksgiving drink of choice. There’s just something magical about coffee liqueur and too much turkey that makes all life’s problems fade away. As for pies, I’m a big fan of this surprisingly-easy caramel apple pie recipe. You pour some of the caramel mixture over the lattice crust, creating a crispy, perfect apple pie. Trust me: if anything will help you survive your family this Thanksgiving, it’s going to be alcohol and sweets.

caramel apple pie