So, you’ve left the nest. Maybe you bailed on your suburban childhood home for college, or for life in a big city, or a town across the state. Maybe you have the occasional tendency to think you’re pretty hot shit because you’re off doing Big Exciting Things while everything back home seemingly stands still. Rest assured, however, that whatever impression you have of yourself as some above-it-all hip young thing will dissipate as soon as you, along with all the others who fled, descend upon your hometown. Celebrating the holidays back home is a mental time warp that keeps you seesawing between nostalgia and annoyance every few seconds until you finally leave town again. This insanity tends to arrive in stages as you sink deeper into the Thanksgiving fever dream. After the jump, a few universal facepalm moments that arise when you visit your hometown for Thanksgiving – in GIFs!
1. Regressing back to childhood. Being under your parents’ roof turns your dynamic with them into some complicated mesh between your 5-year-old self and your teenage self. You whine at them, expect them to solve everything, bitch at them about problems that have nothing to do with them, and then expect them to hug it out to make you feel all better immediately afterward.
2. Turning into a sedentary lump because your parents’ house feels like a five-star resort. Premium cable? An actual couch that isn’t just a futon in disguise? When you add a washer/dryer and a fridge fully stocked with Costco-sized boxes of processed food, you are in heaven compared to that tiny city shoebox you’ve been overpaying for. This means hours upon hours spent soaking it all in on the couch.
3. Dreading your inevitable public encounter with childhood frenemies on Thanksgiving Eve. Every person your age in town goes to the same two bars, after all.
4. Battle disillusionment at seeing how your former “big shot” friends turned out. These are the friends that were so cool in high school. They were brilliant and hip and always ahead of the curve. Maybe you even wanted to be like them because you knew they were ~going places~ one day. Turns out you meet them for coffee every year or so and find that now they’re just kind of sad and full of excuses and spend every day chain smoking out the bathroom window of their parents’ house while dreaming up pie-in-the-sky plans they’ll never attempt. Now you’ll spend the next several days pouting over the realization that they’re not your hero anymore and what that might say about you.
5. Awkward run-ins at the supermarket. Or the drugstore. Or the post office. Fate would have it that your former hot teacher from high school or that stare-y neighbor who wears all the cat sweaters is right behind you in line.
6. Getting in touch with your roots. Your suburban, green bean casserole-loving, pie-baking, applique sweater-wearing roots that you thought you’d long abandoned when you moved away. Let that downhome freak flag fly.
7. Spending roughly three hours seriously considering giving up all the struggle of city life and returning to your hometown. The houses are so spacious compared to the city, and you could actually see nature every now and then. You could drive a car! Everything would be cheap! Life would be predictable in the most delightful of ways. This daydream can go on for an extensive amount of time before the stress of the holidays kick in and you remember all the reasons you live in a city right now in the first place.
9. Breaking grim updates about your life to people you only see once a year. “Nope, lost my job!” “Nope, not dating that guy anymore!” “Yep, I’m still living in that ‘minimalist’ shoebox!”
10. Getting in the car to hit up your favorite hometown spots and discovering they’re all gone. They’ve been replaced by Starbucks.
11. Strained conversations with your grumpy conservative uncle. That’s what Thanksgiving dinner is for, right?
12. Talking shit about another family member at the dinner table, and then feeling kind of terrible about it. You know they know, and they know you know they know.
13. Keeping your mouth shut about how sexist/racist/transphobic/homophobic a family member is so that everyone (read: everyone but you) can have a nice holiday. Another beloved hallmark of the holiday season, am I right? Just watch out for the way your neck vein is twitching every time you bite your tongue during Grandpa’s awkward bigoted rant.
14. Seeing your parents as adults and feeling kind of sad and weird about it. They’re not just magical entities called Mom and Dad anymore, they’re real human beings who are nuanced. They’re a little clueless sometimes, ask lame questions about this hot new “torking” thing Miley Cyrus is doing, and – surprise – they’re getting older just like you are. Wait a minute, weren’t you just here to do free laundry and eat some turkey? When did shit get so heavy!? What does your life even mean?!
15. Heading back home feeling simultaneously refreshed and burned out. You got in some great relaxation on the couch, but you’re definitely ready for some time to yourself away from your bitchy great aunt’s side eye or your competitive brother’s tauntingly perfect grin. The trade-off, though, is saying goodbye to all that delicious free homemade food and your family, who, despite how much they can drive you nuts, you probably love like crazy. Fear not, as soon as you’ve had enough time away from the family to start missing them again, the next holiday will roll around to start the process all over again!
Original by Claire Hannum