The Tator

Students fight family-induced trauma over Thanksgiving break

Madeline Fuerstenberg

More stories from Madeline Fuerstenberg

November 2, 2020

This is a satirical article and is not meant to be taken seriously. It does not reflect the opinions of The Spectator or UW-Eau Claire.

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, be with loved ones and celebrate family. However, our families sometimes make us want to forget all of that, lock ourselves in our bedrooms and escape through our windows. Two UW-Eau Claire students said they know this feeling all too well.

Natalee Thomas, a junior psychology student at Eau Claire, said she understands this feeling on a personal level.

“I’ve always loved Thanksgiving and my family,” Thomas said. “But in the past few years, I’ve become more aware. Now, I understand that there is no safe line of conversation for my family. It will always end with screaming, crying and at least one emotional breakdown. I just went into this year knowing that I had to avoid this at all costs.”

Like many other young adults, the holidays have taken on a new significance for Thomas. Times are changing in the United States: People are becoming more open-minded, tolerant and thoughtful. Unfortunately, not everyone is so willing to view the world through a modern lens, she said.

“I clearly remember the first time I realized how dangerous it can be to converse with my family at Thanksgiving,” Thomas said. “It started with a political conversation between my grandpa and my aunt and ended with a religiously fueled screaming match between Grandpa, two of my aunts and my uncle. The image of my grandfather turning purple with fury has never left my mind.”

Thomas said she comes from a large family, with a variety of different age groups, political views and religious backgrounds. Therefore, things can get heated between relatives when certain topics come up. For instance, Thomas said she knew this Thanksgiving would be about avoiding anything related to President Donald Trump, gun control, climate change or Bernie Sanders.

“It was like walking through a minefield,” Thomas said. “When one of my uncles asked me about college, the conversation somehow lead to taxes, which almost caused a riot at the dinner table. You never know what will set them off.”

Unlike Thomas, other Eau Claire students face more personal hardships at their family Thanksgiving.

Ben Anderson, a sophomore journalism student, faced his own brand of extreme mortification at his family Thanksgiving.

“I got grilled the entire time,” Anderson said. “Half my family tried to warn me that journalists make no money, and the other half asked me endless questions about my dating life.”

Other topics of interrogation for Anderson and students like him included his lack of a job, grades, partying habits and inability to take care of himself.

“My relatives really know how to cross some lines,” Anderson said. “I had to fake a stomachache just so I could leave the table and hide for a little while. But they found me. They always find me.”

As the holiday weekend came to a close, more and more Eau Claire students came forward with their stories.

“I feel like we’re survivors,” Thomas said. “I felt my sanity slipping away a few times during the break, but I fought against it. When I wanted to tear my hair out, I closed my eyes and took deep breathes. When I wanted to tell my entire family to shut up, I stuffed more food in my mouth and waited for the feeling to pass. It’s a hard thing to do, but we do crazy things to protect our families from themselves.”