Ah, Thanksgiving. At it’s best, it’s filled with laughter, mind-blowing pie and good old-fashioned family bonding. At its worst, it’s awkward AF — particularly when you add a date to the mix. Bringing someone home, whether a new boo or a long-time partner, can come with all kinds of possible pitfalls, leading to epic Thanksgiving Day date horror stories that you’re bound to tell for years to come (unless you try to erase them from your memory entirely). Will your sister share some incriminating story from your childhood? Will your aunt accidentally make an insensitive comment about bae’s religion? Will Aunt Betsy make that god awful casserole again and try to force your vegan date to eat it?
It’s a holiday ripe with potential for memorable moments — that’s for sure. Let’s start with this startling little fact: around 2,400 fires occur on Thanksgiving due to turkey fryer mishaps, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Woof, I know. Then, of course, there’s the possibility of uncomfortable debates — one 2018 study published in Science revealed that turkey dinners were shortened by about 30 minutes in politically-divided families. Basically, there are many things that can go horribly wrong, which means bringing a date to your family’s dinner can be a risky move.
Don’t believe me? Here are some true tales of Turkey Day horror.
When bae is far from Gordon Ramsay.
Last year I let my girlfriend fix the turkey. It was nice and brown, we were all starving. Cut into it and it was raw inside.
When the convo is more heated than the candied yams.
Long story short, his dad made a political comment that didn’t go over well with me. Yeah, I probably should have kept my mouth shut (this was my first time meeting the parents). But whatever, I was two or three glasses of wine deep and feeling sassy, so I did not. Next thing I knew, I had started a full-on intense debate at the table. Like, aunts and uncles and grandpa and everybody were involved.
My SO and I are still together, thankfully, but I def learned to avoid the subject around his family. Now he jokingly calls me “the instigator.”
— Tara, 27
When you LOL … and legit blow it.
I was the one taken to her family get-together. Her ancient grandmother came into the house and everyone said ‘How are you doing, grandma?’ and stuff. Her response was ‘Aaach, it is time for me to die!’ I guffawed. I thought it was a really funny joke! Nice one, grandma.
Yeah, it was not a joke. Apparently old immigrant Jewish people have a much more direct and matter-of-fact way of talking about decrepitude and death than Southern Baptists, and not the gallows humor of Cockneys (the culture of my mom’s and dad’s families). She wasn’t joking around, that was her very literal answer to the question — how am I doing? It’s time for me to die, that’s how I’m doing.
So everybody thought that I found it hilarious that their old matriarch was on her last legs. I was not representing the Gentiles well that day.
When you’re just trying to squeeze in some post-feast fondling.
I was in high school. My boyfriend (who happens to be my husband now) and his family didn’t do family get-togethers. So I invited him to my house for ours. We get done eating and everything, and everyone is in the main part of the house talking and whatnot.
Now, normally I wasn’t allowed to have my bedroom door closed when my boyfriend was over and in my room. But I used it being a chaotic get-together to our advantage and we snuck off to my room and shut the door. We had never done anything more than make out, but on this day we decided to take it up a notch and he decided to feel me up under my shirt. So we’re kissing and his hand is up there, and suddenly my door swings open and my 60-something-year-old uncle takes a step inside, looks up, sees us, and just says ‘Whoops, not the bathroom!’ And shuts the door.
Horrifying. Awkward. Mood-killer.
When you’re basically Larry David eating a salad.
While still dating my now ex-wife, I was invited to their family holiday feast.
I was super nervous because her father was a giant intimidating bear of a man. He was seated at the head of the table, with me immediately to his left, and her to mine. One of the courses was a nice salad. The dressing already on it. Everyone seemed to be starting with that, so I followed suit.
I stabbed the bowl with my fork and realized I got a huge chunk of lettuce slathered in dressing. I was paralyzed. I started to sweat, a flow running down my back. I couldn’t make up my mind to hack it into smaller pieces or quickly cram it in my mouth, risking a splatter of dressing going everywhere. I could feel all eyes on me, staring at my salad like I was having an epileptic seizure. I had to do something. So I caveman-style opened as wide as I could and stuffed that wad of lettuce, big enough to choke a horse into my mouth. The room went silent. Her father sent me a look that burned all the way to my spine. Then he looked at his wife and said, ‘Why is this *ssclown eating my salad?’
Cringing yet? The thing is, there are lots of potential benefits to including bae in your Thanksgiving celebration — like offering them a glimpse at your traditions, providing them with a low-pressure scenario to meet extended fam, and strengthening your bond with some new shared memories. That said, there’s definitely a slew of potential snafus that can go down, too. Hopefully, you and bae can at least get a good laugh out of it down the road. In the meantime, heed these horror stories as a warning of what can happen. But remember, the good news is — if you can survive some Thanksgiving awkwardness together, then you’ve got something pretty special.