If you opt to head back to the place where you grew up to celebrate Thanksgiving with your family, there’s a very good chance you’ll find yourself sitting in your parents’ house on Wednesday looking for a way to get out of conversations concerning the hottest rumors circling the town and containing at least one story that begins with “You won’t believe who called!”
Historically speaking, the best way to escape has been to head to a local watering hole for an evening some people have dubbed “Drinksgiving” or “Blackout Wednesday,” which has traditionally been the busiest night of the years for bars around the United States…and easily the most overrated.
If you’ve willingly and routinely subjected yourself to patronizing a drinking establishment on Thanksgiving Eve over the years, you’ve been doing everything wrong.
I know this because I used to be one of those people. It started back in college when I was first faced with the decision to either head to a bar or anxiously wait until my parents announced they were going to bed before breaking out the bottle of whiskey I’d picked up and hidden in the garage so I didn’t have to deal with them silently judging me while I consumed way too much of it in front of them.
At this point, I should probably admit that I’m one of those people who basically never talked to anyone I went to high school with as soon as I was handed my diploma. It’s not that I didn’t have friends, but there was really no one I was tight enough with to keep in touch with when I finally got the chance to escape the small town in Connecticut I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of.
However, when faced with the two aforementioned options, getting the hell out of my house was obviously the most preferable of the two. However, in doing so, I put myself in the position to have to deal with a different kind of judgment and conversations I couldn’t really give less of a shit about—a reality that took me far too long to realize was the case.
While going out the night before Thanksgiving might seem like a good idea, the downside is that basically every person you used to know who’s also back in town will do the exact same thing. If you’re in your early 20s and still keep in touch with some of your old buddies, you might be able to have a good time while catching up, but you’re also setting yourself up to have to deal with at least one of two all but inevitable interactions that most people would prefer to avoid.
The first involves chilling with a drink in your hand while casually looking around only to make eye contact with someone from your past—whether it’s an old crush or a former best friend you drifted away from—which has two potential outcomes: you either decide to act like it never happened or have a chat at least one of you feels obligated to have even though neither of you probably want to.
However, that’s nowhere as close to as terrifying as simply minding your own business only for someone to tap your on the shoulder or come out of nowhere to greet you with a far too enthusiastic “Hiiiiiiiiiii!” and all but forcing you to engage with them.
These impromptu and unsolicited reunions will then lead to the standard small talk that gets more unbearable with every year that passes. If you’re still in college, it’s usually not that bad, as once you talk about what you’re majoring in, what you’re planning to do after you graduate, and act like you’ve “heard of” the friend of the person you’re talking to who goes to the same school even though you’re totally unaware of their existence, things come to a fairly natural end.
However, once you transition into a Real Adult, these exchanges tend to evolve into a subtle dick-measuring contest that can make the night a bit of an emotional roller coaster.
One minute, you’re slightly too happy to learn that the valedictorian who went to a respected liberal arts school is currently living with their parents because they picked a major that left them without any real job prospects, and the next, you discover that the guy who once got suspended after showing up drunk to a first-period gym class and still resides in the town he’s never left now operates a successful landscaping business there that allowed him to buy his own house before turning 25.
No one deserves that fate. Do yourself a favor and don’t even tempt it.