Brock About Town: Sit at the kids’ table this Thanksgiving, and other survival tips

Illustration by Lev Cantoral

Note: The CDC and health officials in Iowa and Johnson County do not recommend in-person family gatherings this holiday season due to high rates of community spread of COVID-19.

As I floated, adrift in the sea of time, I received a message in a bottle of sorts — a DM from my editor, informing me that it was almost November, and thus time for me to submit a column. I contemplated this, then shuddered as I remembered that November meant Thanksgiving, and in this, the year of our Lord two thousand and twenty, it could bring only misery.

I don’t think I can even joke about this. If Thanksgiving with your family is anything like Thanksgiving with mine, the prospect of rounding out one of the most stressful years on record with a good old-fashioned family dinner is filling you with a cold, insidious dread. The drama, the skull-crushing boredom, the vegetable trays; you’re considering legally disowning them just so you don’t have to go. Well, if for some reason you find yourself compelled to gather with loved ones this holiday despite the tsunamic coronavirus tide sweeping through Iowa right now, here are a few tips on getting through it:

– Don’t forget your mask! Or your box of latex gloves, your econo-sized bottle of Lysol and an actual and literal six-foot pole. You’re going to need them. Your great-aunt Donna (or Karen, as her grandkids have started calling her) has been barred from every Target in the tri-county area for refusing to wear a mask. See if you can finagle a spot at the kids’ table, which might be a very hot commodity this year.

– Help out in the kitchen. It’ll take a load off your mom’s shoulders and give you a plausible excuse not to interact with the rest of the family. When your cousin starts giving you her MLM pitch, pretend you smell something burning. When your grandma reaches down the back of your pants to see what size they are, distract her with a cocktail. See? This is easy.

– You already know not to bring up politics. What are you, 14? But this year, you need to go the extra mile to avoid them. Scratch off all your bumper stickers the night before. Use the parental controls on your grandparents’ TV to block all the news channels. When your uncle inevitably brings up the election, fake a grand mal seizure. You may make yourself look a little silly, but it’s better than watching your dad fistfight his sister over the cheese course.

Ah, family time. There’s really nothing like it.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 288.