Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic
I want to preface this by saying that I adore my family — I'm very close to them, I think they're marvelous in almost all ways, and I would probably wither and expire if I were forced to spend a Thanksgiving away from them. In fact, that's why I'm far from the offices of TOTN as I write this — I'm away in Massachusetts, setting the table and watching my father haze my boyfriend. Again. However, there are a few things I've learned over the years, that make all the inevitable vicissitudes of family easier to bear when you're spending several days with them.
1) Have a means of escape. Rent that car. It's worth it. And always volunteer when you run out of milk or eggnog to get more. Those little breaks are essential.
2) Don't mention politics until you've finished the first course. It's only polite, and by that time, there's likely been enough wine imbibed that you can be forgiven for any passion in that arena.
3) Bring a friend. The presence of a pal acts like social cartilage — chances are you'll get less uncomfortable questions about grandchildren (or lack thereof), job prospects, or your choice of hosiery.
4) Be willing to let some things go. If you simply can't explain a "podcast" to your grandfather — ask him to explain the "wireless."
5) Be thankful. You're lucky to have them, foibles and all.
I have to run — the table still needs setting. You finish the manual. How do you survive family over the holidays?