Paul Baker/the Gauntlet

Holiday Survival 201: Avoiding Uncle Jim

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The table has been set with the finest of china and the polished silverware has been brought out. Multiple succulent aromas fill the nostrils; a plump and juicy turkey, steaming mashed potatoes, homemade stuffing, and of course, the pumpkin pie that's just been pulled out of the oven. It must be Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is typically the first visit back home for all those away from their family and a visit from the extended family for everyone for the first time since, well, it's been a while and that's all that matters. While everyone collectively enjoys the holidays, they have an unparalleled effect of bringing together loved ones and the not-so-loved ones. Most people have at least one in their family: annoying, rude and totally obnoxious relatives.

Often they are the last person in the world you would like to see, but they are family, so they will inevitably be around at thanksgiving this weekend. While the only way to avoid them completely is premeditated murder, there are less brutal and more law-abiding methods to keep them at a safe viewing distance for the long weekend. Once this buffer zone is established, feel free to laugh and point at others who have now become victims.

The first and most effective technique in warding off the unwanted relative is to begin an obviously long, controversial and, most importantly, offensive conversation. Extra points can be scored if the topic brought up personally relates to them in a highly negative manner. One way to pick the perfect topic to send them running is to know their history of emotionally scarring events. Perhaps their cat ran away and was found a week later dead in the street; this leans the conversation in the obvious direction of how you just ran over some fuzzy creature with a tail on the way over, and it how great it felt. If the history is vague, work on a chronic medical issue: pour multiple drinks and discuss your newfound love of waterfalls for the overactive bladder, or continually offer to shake hands with an amputee. Have some fun with it. A personal favourite is leprosy, but for added pleasure, skim over that old medical dictionary before the big day.

Sometimes the awkward conversation doesn't drive them away, but fear not. Other methods may yet prevail. Look to move the discussion in the direction of a large group of people. Chances are, the sketchy subject is a contagious one, thus the talk mutates itself and overtakes the whole group, forcing a heated debate. Once this has begun, simply ignore the person who is worth avoiding, and constantly face in the opposite direction. Exclusion is much more powerful in numbers. Hopefully, they will sulk away, feeling as though they are not contributing to what is being said, as that is the case. If this is does not occur, simply leave the conversation on your own, and with that many people talking, they won't even know you're gone.

If this too is ineffective, emergency maneuvers must be taken. Ethics can now be thrown right out the window and pride checked at the door. Fake a cell phone call from a boyfriend, even if you are a guy yourself. Pretend you have massive indigestion and spend the night playing poker on you cell phone in the bathroom. Suddenly start yelling uncontrollably, as long as the relative is not in a medical institution as well. Do whatever is necessary.

Follow these guidelines and you should be in the clear, at least until the out-of-control shouting situation. Try to hold off on this one until at least dessert, though: as much as avoiding that relative is important to a good Thanksgiving, having a solid meal should be part of it too. Happy Thanksgiving!