By this point I suspect you have one of two worries surrounding Thanksgiving. What to wear and/or how to deal with family. For the former, it’s simple – this dress. I suggest no belt, so that it’s just a super soft, super swingy tunic that still feels dressy enough with a pair of heeled booties to look like you have your life together when your grandparents ask, but still comfy enough to eat seconds of pie and then inevitably nap later.

For the latter, its not going to be as simple. I am incredibly fortunate to be a member of a nuclear family that truly gets along and loves hanging out together. And for the first 20 something odd years of my life I thought this was actually normal. Turns out, its not. And once you add in extended family and in-laws (and god forbid politics) – I’m guessing there’s about 95% of you that feel at the very least a small amount of stress about seeing someone across the dinner table later this month.

Well meaning questions (like – how’s your job? when are you two finally going to get married? how long are you going to live in New York?) can range from mildly prying to downright triggering. Add in another family that’s only attached to you through a significant other and you’ve got a whole other set of tightropes to walk. All while just trying to get through dinner without spilling sweet potatoes on your new dress.

Here’s what I suggest. Set expectations for yourself before you ever step foot into the host’s house. You can control 0% of how other people behave or how they question your love life. You can control 100% of how you react to it. Give yourself a pep talk beforehand if need be. Find a sibling or partner that you’ll be there with and can be your life raft during Thanksgiving dinner. And have an escape plan. You may be obligated to attend but you’re not obligated to stay until midnight.

In general, I find that usually when people ask probing questions into your life its because they are genuinely interested or because something about your life triggers their own insecurities. When they ask a 32 year old woman when she’s thinking of starting a family, perhaps its because they’re jealous they didn’t get time when they were that age to focus on their career because they were already strapped with two kids. Or maybe it just popped into their head and so they thought why not ask. Who knows. It’s not your job to figure out their shit. It’s your job to remember what you’re grateful for and get through dessert.

Of course, if you’ve got a family that operates at a level that feels destructive, burdening or hurtful to be around – I suggest you gather up a good friend or two, book a ticket and head to the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. They host a ‘Black Sheep Thanksgiving’ party each year where you can hide out in the desert by the pool and escape it all. There are some things that just aren’t healthy – and I hope you all can draw that line, however hard it would be to do so.

But for the majority of us that will grin and bear it this year when their mother in law critiques our stuffing or our grandfather makes a joke in poor taste… know that after the long weekend you can return to the great life you’ve been busy building. At least until Christmas…

SHOP THE STORY: