Thanksgiving, also known as the Best Holiday Ever, calls for a picture-perfect gathering of family and friends around a gigantic feast. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I imagine what Thanksgiving is like in other families. I like to make up quick stories as I’m walking by this one particular house on the way to my grandmother’s house each fabulous Thanksgiving. Last year, my story of the house went maybe just a tad overboard, probably due to my very over-active imagination, but I do think it was pretty solid if I do say so myself.
It started with about five-and-a-half bottles of wine, a 12-pack of beer, and the unfortunate cheek pinching and sloppy, juicy smooches Aunt Gertie is famous for. Later, while everyone is surrounded at the table about to give thanks, Grandma starts talking smack about Uncle Bob and how he’s the “black sheep” of the family, ever since he moved to Guam because you don’t need a passport to travel there and something about extradition? I don’t know.
In all honesty, though, eating all that great food and spending time with my loved ones really is what makes Thanksgiving so fun. I love seeing my cousins that live out-of-state, helping my grandma in the kitchen, and chatting with my great aunts and uncles. But it is crazy, as an adult, how coming home for the holidays is so much different than when I was a kid.
So, what’s it like when your kids go off to college and they are – gasp – actually coming home for the first time? WHAT NOW? What do you do? What do we do?! Will life be as harmonious as it was before we left you guys??! Luckily for you, I’ve got this awesome survival guide, so you should probably just keep this magazine handy, or rip these pages out and put it in your pocket for easy reference. I won’t tell. *Winks*
The Parents’ Thanksgiving Survival Guide:
- Let us (your sweet, darling babe) sleep in for the first couple of days. We’ve traveled by plane, train, or automobile to get back home and we are looking for that welcome respite from the stress of midterms. And dorms. And roommates. And super gross communal bathrooms. Eww. *Shudders*
- Stock up your kitchen with indelible eats and treats. Nobody wants to come home to Ramen and hot dogs, because let’s face it, that’s what we’ve been eating consistently over the past few months. Don’t worry, they’re “organic.”
- Please be chill with the questions. You will definitely have at least 3,867 questions to ask us, but please… Please understand that we might be a little overwhelmed with our trip home and there will be plenty of Q & A with other family members at the dinner table. Let us volunteer information, because that will undoubtedly happen. Especially if wine is involved. Better known as where secrets no longer have a home.
- Don’t be 100% available. Sure, you’ll want to spend time with us, because we’re fantastic (obviously), but if you make yourself completely available, it turns the stalker notch up just a bit. “Where are you going?” “Who are you going with?” “When will you be back?” We’ve been independent and making our own decisions for around three months, and we’ve shown that we don’t “need” you (but really, we need you forever and ever). Also, yes, we know everything there is ever to know in the universe.
- Please don’t ask us what our dating life is like. It makes us cringe ever so slightly discussing our personal lives in detail with you. No, really. It does.
- If we make a drastic change in our appearance, please tell other family members beforehand, so we don’t have to “explain ourselves.” If we’ve dyed our hair blue or got our nose pierced, it’s because we are expressing ourselves. We’re still the same person on the inside. But Grandma might think it’s crazy – we’ll save her famous, “Kids these days!” statement for your ears only.
- Please disregard the fact we haven’t done laundry in several weeks. It’s not that we don’t know how to do it – you taught us right proper – we just prefer washing our tighty whities at home instead of in front of 8 million people. Surely, you can understand the need for privacy. (Also, it’s free at home.)
- Take us shopping, Ma! We’re probably running low on snacks, toiletries, and other sundries, so if you wanted to take us to the store to stock up on the essentials, we won’t say no. Just sayin’.
The Kids’ Thanksgiving Survival Guide:
- Show your appreciation for your folks. You may have been gone for a while, but if we said we didn’t miss the heck out of you, we’d be lying. Let us play Mom and Dad again, even if it’s just for a few days or few weeks. Playing empty nester isn’t quite the role for us yet!
- If we offer you a glass of wine, accept it. This little gesture on our behalf acknowledges that you are no longer a little kid and that you are, in fact, becoming a bona fide adult. Also, now we can get you to volunteer information.
- Help out around the house. Yes, this means doing the dishes and cleaning up after yourselves. We are not your maid. If you can show us how you’ve matured while you’ve been away at college, we’ll be less likely to treat you like a child and more inclined to treat you as an adult.
- Respect the house rules. We know that you’ve had a great deal of independence and you’ve probably become a night owl due to studying. If you want to go out with your friends until 1 am, that’s fine, but be quiet when you get back home. Just know that your actions affect more than just yourself while you’re back.
- Don’t forget to check in with us. We know you aren’t fifteen anymore, but we just want to know where you are and if you’re okay. Even a text would be great – just don’t lose sight of the fact that we are hosting you – rent-free – while you’re home from school.
- Make time to see your high school friends. Chances are, they’re home for the holidays, too, so head out to your old stomping grounds and get reacquainted.
- Don’t forget to spend quality time with us. We’ve missed you. Your younger siblings have missed you – please don’t choose your friends over us 100% of the time. Plan your time ahead accordingly, so you can squeeze us all in for awesome conversations. It’s called compromise, baby.
- Take on extra responsibilities. If your kid brother needs a ride to the movies with his friends, offer to drive him. If we run out of milk, your offer to run to the store will not go unnoticed. Remember how we taught you to be a team player? Now is the time to step up to the plate!