Thanksgiving arrival strategies

(An excerpt from Jeremy’s book, Relative Discomfort: The Family Survival Guide.)

  • Monday, November 17, 2008 7:43pm
  • Opinion

(An excerpt from Jeremy’s book, Relative Discomfort: The Family Survival Guide.)

Showing up is 80 percent of life. — Woody Allen

… Showing up without pissing anyone off is the other 20 percent.

One of the most overlooked parts of the family gathering is the arrival. Like a gymnastics competition, you can do all your flips perfectly, but if you land wobbly the routine is ruined. Years of not ovulating have gone for nothing just because you screwed up one small detail. The same is true of our big family gatherings. If our arrival isn’t perfect, all our preparing to not be annoyed by our Christian Stoner cousin is wasted. It won’t matter that you’ve been prepared to block out his stories about how he’s sure Jesus smoked pot because he was so peaceful and always turned stuff into food. If you accidentally insult your hostess, watching that uncoordinated niece with chronic ear infections try and perform her dance recital will be the least of your pains.

The key to a successful arrival strategy is ingratiating yourself to the host. This may mean showing up early, pretending to like bland food, or helping with chores you don’t want to do. Unfortunately, having a better holiday may mean kissing a little mother-in-law ass (that is, little by comparison to one of Saturn’s moons); or sucking up to your rich dentist brother’s trophy wife. To help us endure this humiliation, let’s remind ourselves what we can gain with a good arrival strategy:

Sleeping arrangements

Do you want the spare bedroom so you can sleep with your wife’s collection of childhood stuffed animals, or do you want to sleep on the couch next to the mantle place and Grandpa David’s ashes? Our host controls where we sleep. They are the captain of the ship and can determine if we get the nice hammock with the parrot and a bottle of rum, or if we have to sleep down in the galleys propped against the bilge pump. Family gatherings are an endurance sport. You will last a lot longer if people don’t have to walk by you at night to pee.

However, if you get stuck on the couch it’s your right to raid the liquor cabinet and the leftovers as much as you want, and at whatever hour you choose. If they didn’t want you to get drunk at three in the morning, they would have set up the inflate-a-bed in the back office.

Mealtime seating chart

Do you want to sit next to your college-age younger cousin, and hear all the latest techniques for how to get tequila stains out of a wonder bra; or do you want to listen to Great Aunt Betty trying to time her cheesecake bites in between each emphysema wheeze? Family gatherings are always a lot less painful if we’re sitting next to someone who doesn’t gross us out. Our host controls where we sit, including who must sit at the proverbial kids’ table. Forming the right bond with your host can mean the difference between staring at a reminder of how great twenty-two-year-old breasts are, or being asked to help little drooling Jimmy cut up his turkey. (Note: Sometimes it’s actually beneficial to sit at the kids table if it’s in your best interest to avoid all the adults.)


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Opinion

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Not much changed from what we knew on election night | Roegner

This column was due before the election was certified. However, not much… Continue reading

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Honoring heroes goes beyond lowering flags to half-mast | Brunell

Lowering our flags to half-staff seems to be an all too familiar… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Public safety takes centerstage in local elections | Roegner

In Seattle and most suburban cities, the overwhelming message was that the… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Washington’s secretary of state leaves big shoes to fill | Roegner

Secretary of State Kim Wyman recently announced she will leave her state… Continue reading

Dr. Jayendrina Singha Ray serves as Faculty of English at Highline College. Her research interests include postcolonial studies, spatial literary studies, British literature, and rhetoric and composition. Prior to teaching in the U.S., she worked as an editor with Routledge and taught English at colleges in India.
What the Afghan wants to say: A story of resettlement | Guest column

The wind is strong. It carries the colored leaves of fall to… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
The rest of the story: Sound Transit, Rolovich and Lambert | Roegner

All of the reporters I know are ethical and trustworthy. But I… Continue reading

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
When it comes to power, Washington may be falling behind | Brunell

For years, Washington state masked its high business and regulatory costs with… Continue reading

tsr
Domestic violence victims need more housing options

Column: As a result of stay-at-home measures from the pandemic, domestic violence rates have worsened in King County.

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Why should the threat to Taiwan concern us in WA? | Brunell

Unfortunately, what happens in Taiwan doesn’t just stay in Taiwan — it… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Election 2021: Closer look at King County races | Roegner

The race for Mayor of Seattle will dominate the regional media, but… Continue reading

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Our economy works when consumers pick winners | Brunell

Poland and America are like two trains passing each other in opposite… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Big-time politics: Redistricting for 2022 elections | Roegner

Based on new census data, which shows Washington state has grown by… Continue reading