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Thanksgiving Dinner
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Robert & Pat Rogers

Conversations every Chicagoan will have this Thanksgiving

Written by
Jonathan Samples

The holidays are upon us, and that means food, family and forced conversation. Thanksgiving kicks off this season of oversharing with the people you know all too well, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a meaningful exchange about the most trivial of subjects. Take note of conversation prompts or signs of discussions you may want to avoid and chew over our list of likely table talk this Thanksgiving.

Whining about driving out to the 'burbs: You used to love going on long drives. But after living in the city for the better part of your 20s, the thought of spending 40 solitary minutes in a car (alone) on your way out to Alsip is equal parts annoying and terrifying. Undoubtedly, you’ll need to unpack that complex with someone. And since your therapist doesn’t have office hours until after the holiday, complaining about that ass-pain of a drive to your parents will have to do.

The new Metra seats: At some point during your impassioned yarn about traffic on the Dan Ryan, one of your solution-oriented relatives will remember hearing about those dope new Metra seats. You should have “rode the train,” they’ll say, and you and your deformed lumbar will have to point out the benefits of hindsight.

A way too in-depth conversation about craft beers: You made it to your family Thanksgiving party, casually greeted relatives and now it’s time to make a subtle (mustn't show too much haste) move toward the fridge for a can of cold beer. All of a sudden, you’re blindsided by that cousin you vaguely remember. He proudly displays a craft beer variety pack, which you suspect took far too long to “prepare,” and offers you one. While trying your damnedest to look as though you’ll be basing your decision on something other than the label art, your mustachioed cousin begins rattling off a list of unique characteristics for each. You hear him say something about mouthfeel and head retention, before grabbing the one with a skiing dog on the bottle.

Whether or not the Obamas will move back to Chicago: Despite always ending with someone excusing themselves from the table, families love talking politics this time of year. Feeling bamboozled, that aunt and uncle who helped make a reality TV star our next (and, maybe our last) president will want to steer the conversation somewhere more agreeable. So, why not discuss where the Obamas will spend their post-presidential years? Before moving into the White House, the first couple shared a home in Hyde Park. And although you live 50 minutes away in Logan Square (it’s all Chicago to them), your family will love razzing you about possibly being neighbors with the former president.

Some aunt going on about how cute Anthony Rizzo is: Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo has a lot going for him. His team won the World Series in historic fashion, he finished fourth in National League MVP voting and now he’s caught the eye of Aunt Diane. She’s noted his work to raise money for pediatric cancer and thinks the best part of his game is that “he’s a team player” but after three apricot stone sours, she can’t stop telling everyone how “damn cute” she thinks he is.

Criticizing Joe Maddon for "over-managing" despite, y'know, winning: Speaking of the Cubs, how about that Joe Maddon? Your dad was the backup shortstop on his high school baseball team, and would have stuck with it if it wasn’t for those damn bone spurs. Now, he spends the majority of his time second guessing the decisions of Chicago coaches, and you have the pleasure of hearing all about how the Cubs’ skipper should have known better pitching Aroldis Chapman all those innings. Well, maybe next year.

How the Southside used to be a hotbed for crime ‘back in my day’: People have told you that Bridgeport used to be a rough area. You moved to the burgeoning South Side neighborhood a year ago and to your delight, it’s been pretty smooth sailing. But, what would you know? Your great uncle Gene lived south of 35th Street, near (Chicago voice) Back of the Yards, for 57 years, and he’s seen some things. You try exchanging war stories with the old brawler, but eventually concede that he’s toughest SOB at the dinner table.

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