Thanksgiving is a very family-centric holiday, so Thanksgiving dinner at your in-laws' home is a perfect opportunity to bond with them. Here are some tips for bonding with your in-laws at Thanksgiving while actually enjoying the holiday.
1. Smile. A smile is an excellent ice-breaker, as long as it isn't fake or forced. Positive people are well liked, so if you arrive at your in-laws' place with a genuine smile on your face, it will be your first step in the right direction. Your smile will let your in-laws know that your are happy to be spending Thanksgiving with them, and they will make you feel welcome in return.
2. Contribute. Even if your in-laws insist on cooking everything themselves, bringing something to the meal (for example, a dessert or a bottle of wine) or a gift is a nice thing to do. You can also help by setting/clearing table or doing the dishes. However, if your in-laws say they don't need your help, you shouldn't insist too much because it might make them feel uncomfortable.
3. Be patient. When it comes to in-laws, patience is an irreplaceable virtue. Even if your in-laws are nice people and you generally get along well, sometimes they might say things you don't agree with, ask annoying questions (such as “When are you finally going to have a baby?”) or give unsolicited advice. In such a situation, don't let your frustration show. Keep smiling, be polite and try to change the subject.
4. Avoid bringing up controversial topics like politics, religion, tragedies, abortions, gay marriage, etc. Heated discussions about controversial topics at the dinner table can ruin the holiday, especially if you don't share your in-laws' views. So don't bring such topics up and hold your tongue if someone has already done it.
5. Listen. Your in-laws will probably want to tell you all sorts of childhood stories about your spouse and maybe even show you pictures. Even if you're not too interested in hearing about the slightly embarrassing childhood adventures of your significant other, indulge them. We are sure they will appreciate it.
6. Bond over movies, sports, pop culture, etc. Watching movies or sport events together is a great family bonding activity. The hardest part about it is finding the movie everyone is going to enjoy. Watching a sport event (American football on Thanksgiving is sacred!) may help you bond as long as you're rooting for the same team (otherwise things might get ugly). A game night is another fun bonding activity. However, if anyone can get too competitive, stick to non-competitive games.
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