When Thanksgiving comes to most people's minds, their initial thought typically revolves around being thankful, obviously. But somewhere in between the questionable history of Thanksgiving, Black Friday lunacy, and the family feuds that occasionally accompany the holiday, Thanksgiving now summons emotions spanning a very vivid, somewhat unstable spectrum. And while actually celebrating the holiday itsself is something to be valued, that doesn't mean that it comes without its occasional angst.
Families don't exactly fit the mold that sitcoms carved out for them in our brains. In real life, they're a bit more colorful, a bit more opinionated, and a bit more, um, dysfunctional than prime time television would like to admit. In fact, why are TV families still being cast in such predictable fashion when the real entertainment happens at actual family gatherings that include enough drunk uncles and awkward cousins to keep SNL on air for decades to come?
I love my family and all the quirks that accompany them but that doesn't mean that our holiday gatherings are all witty banter, perfectly cooked sweet potatoes, and boxes of Merlot (yes, boxes-- it's the holidays, keep that juice flowing). We're actually a lot more obnoxious than most people are comfortable with, and though my grandma is a stand up chef, there's almost always a burnt biscuit in the bread basket somewhere.
A meal as important as Thanksgiving dinner, one that so much pressure is pushed upon for the other 364 days a year, is bound to invoke a lot of feels. If you've recently experienced an increased heart rate and/or the unusual urge to start drinking at 9 AM lately, don't fret. You're not alone; below you will find the 12 emotional stages of Thanksgiving dinner.
Stage 1: Annoyance (Because Someone Always Shows Up Late And Delays The Festivities)
When did punctuality become an option? Has being fashionably late become part of the holiday tradition? What kind of person arrives late to a delicious feast? Who do they think they are?
Stage 2: Hanger (Oh Cool, Let's Take A Hundred Years To Awkwardly Share What We're Thankful For)
As you sit there listening to your aunt name off all twelve of her cats and honor each of them accordingly, your blood may begin to boil as your stomach makes noises that should never come from the human body. The most beautiful meal you've ever seen is right in front of you, right there within your starving reach, yet it's so far away that it might as well be July.
Stage 3: Growing Impatient While The Food Is Ever-So-Carefully Being Passed Around The Table
Um, I'm pretty sure that every piece of turkey came from the same bird so why is everyone picking through the plate like they're looking for a golden ticket? Do they know something I don't know? Is there money hidden somewhere underneath that heap of meat? Let's go, people!
Stage 4: Sweet Relief As Your Plate Is Finally Full Of Deliciousness
It's so beautiful that it nearly brings tears to your eyes. Your grandmother's china has disappeared beneath a pile of green bean casserole, cheesy macaroni, fluffy mashed potatoes, and a slew of other Thanksgiving staples. It all tastes so good that you're not even sure what you're eating at any given moment. It could be ham, it could be cranberry sauce... no one really knows, and you certainly don't care because you've entered a state of turkey-induced euphoria.
Stage 5: Fearlessness As You Go For Seconds
If you're lucky enough to have food on the table at Thanksgiving, you should count your blessings and appreciate that you've already got what so many others don't. Part of showing that appreciation is going for seconds. And thirds. And really, as much as your body can carry. A mouth so full of cornbread that you're unable to speak clearly is the international sign for "thank you, this is the most amazing things I've ever tasted and I'm truly blessed" on Thanksgiving day.
Stage 6: Doubting Your Ability To Finish Those Seconds Because You Possibly Overcommitted
What were you thinking? Are you insane? Do you hate yourself? Why did you put so much on your plate? Pure hubris.
Stage 7: Determination (Because You Better Get That Sh*t Down. Leaving Food On Your Plate Is Rude As Hell And People Are Watching.)
Wasting food is, well, wasteful and leaving food on your plate is basically spitting in the face of whoever made it (I mean, really, you don't want to give your sweet grandmother the finger so you need to get it together). If you committed to a second plate loaded with carbs, you better not back out. The team is counting on you.
Stage 8: Anxiety As You And Everyone Else Have To Awkwardly Try To Communicate After Just Witnessing One Another Ravenously Destroy A Dead Bird
Awkward silences are the worst, especially at family functions. That's when people start to feel the unwise, inevitable urge to pry into the specifics of your life and you've got to use black magic to make yourself seem like you're far more successful and well-adjusted than you actually are. Fun!
Stage 9: You're Too Full To Function But The Guilt Of Skipping Dessert Will Haunt You (But Seriously, Is Eating More Even Safe At This Point? Are Food Comas Real?)
Sure, you've definitely surpassed the FDA's standards for weekly caloric intake in a single sitting... but there's cheesecake that needs to be eaten! Even though the need for an oxygen is very real, it's worth not being judged over if you were to bypass the dessert table for the Cowboys game.
Stage 10: 50 Shades Of Regret
You've completed your walk (OK, waddle) of shame and found refuge on the couch. At this point, you can't fathom making eye contact with anyone after what just happened at the table. Regret sets in, as does the onset of your looming food coma and the painful, beautiful memory of having consumed your weight in ham slices.
Stage 11: Hungry Again, Because Of Course
And we're back! Aren't Thanksgiving leftovers the best kind of leftovers? And really, you're doing your family a favor by continuing to eat — no one enjoys cleaning up messes or locating the whereabouts of 19 different Tupperware containers (or if you're at Grandma's house, old butter containers). Way to take one for the team, soldier.
Stage 12: Last, But Certainly Not Least, Thankful
If you are alive and breathing, that is reason enough to be thankful. If you have family or friends to spend the holidays with, and if there's food on the table to feed those loved ones, just say thank you. So many don't have that luxury and to take it for granted is a tragedy. I love stuffing my face just as much as the next red-blooded woman, but it would mean nothing without my loved ones. Try to recognize all the little parts that make up your life, the ones that seem so small and insignificant, the ones that at times may annoy the ever living crap out of you, and be grateful for each of them. Yes, even that one cousin who always eats, like, four times his reasonable share of the mac and cheese.
Images via: J.B. Hill/Flickr; Giphy(12)