Conversation at Thanksgiving dinner can be pretty darned excruciating. As with job interviews, sometimes it’s best to prepare innocuous topics that’ll smooth over the awkward silences. Blogger Derrick Schneider over at An Obsession with Food & Wine has linked to some relevant topics on the urban-legend debunking site Snopes, including a look at how the presidential tradition of pardoning a live turkey before Thanksgiving began. It turns out that this supposedly long-lived tradition (most people attribute it to Harry Truman) is actually a modern invention—and the whole thing started off not as a noble sop to animal-lovers, but as a joke.

If that topic’s still too political for your friends and family, how about chatting up the fact that the day after Thanksgiving is not the biggest shopping day of the year in the United States in terms of sales? The real biggest shopping days, as revealed in the Snopes article, indicate that procrastination remains a time-honored Christmas tradition.

What, Aunt Grimmouth says, you’re calling me a procrastinator? Hand your auntie another glass of wine and tell her that she seems to be getting very, verrrry sleepy. It must be all that turkey, she replies. Why, yes, you agree, that must be true.

See more articles