8 Ways Bad Weather Can Improve Your Dysfunctional Family Thanksgiving

If you live in or are headed to the Northeast or Midwest, you may be in for rain, snow, sleet, and some other pretty bad weather on Thanksgiving this year. This means chaos for holiday travelers, of course —including 550 cancelled flights today so far, traffic jams, public transportation functioning at way-slower-than-normal speeds, and other problems that will leave you cursing the day you decided to pack seven pounds of walnut stuffing in your carry-on bag.

And I do feel for you, folks who just want to see your families and spend some time with them on Thanksgiving. But for those of us with very dysfunctional families —you know, those who begin discussing our "Thanksgiving coping strategy" with our therapist in August — this bad weather has a bright side. Not to make light of any folks whose holidays are genuinely put in danger or otherwise ruined by this sleet-based nightmare outside... but for folks whose Thanksgivings are filled with awkward small talk with distant relatives, awkward silences over dinner, and awkward questions about when you're going to have some kids/ get a real job/ stop with this "I'm a vegetarian" nonsense, this weather is a gift.

So, if you're inching along in a plane, train, or automobile in this snowy weather, on the way to an awkward and argumentative family Thanksgiving that you've been dreading interacting with for months, read on and discover how to make this cosmic meteorological punishment work for you!

1. YOU NOW HAVE A REASON TO COME LATE AND LEAVE EARLY

Do you normally have to spend a few hours psyching yourself up to make the drive/ ride to your parents' house, only to be chastised for being late when you get there? Well, the crappy weather provides a ready-made excuse to spend as much time as you need doing whatever you need to do on the way there — from giving yourself a pep talk, to hyperventilating, to eating a Big Mac in your car, alone in a commuter parking lot.

Time is on your side with this weather —an d the same goes for leaving early. Who could demand that you stay late with the roads all wet and icy like this? In fact, you can just put the turkey in this Tupperware container that I have thoughtfully brought with me, and I'll just get out of your hair right now. See you at Christmas!

2. YOU HAVE SOMETHING NON-CONTROVERSIAL TO TALK ABOUT AT DINNER

Weather is the gold standard of boring conversation topics — so why is it, you know, still a conversation topic? That's because it's the one topic guaranteed to not divide the family, lead your grandpa to air his unappealing political opinions, or end with Aunt Lisa shrieking that she "has no son." With all this inclement weather, you have hours of guaranteed boring-ass conversational fodder: How long did it take you to get here? How much longer is that than usual? How much longer has it taken all of your friends to get back home for Thanksgiving than usual? It's so dull, I feel like I took a Xanax just typing that. Soothing!

3. YOU HAVE A BUILT-IN AFTER DINNER ACTIVITY

What does your family usually do after dinner? Get drunk? Yell? Get drunk and yell? Well, if the weather's just snowy, not icy, you can plan on a snow walk. Get everyone outdoors to ooh and ahhhh at the pretty snow. The temperature should be high enough to be comfortable in a coat, but low enough that no one will really want to expend the energy picking a fight about things that happened 15 years ago. You might even be able to turn it into a long walk and get everyone tired out. But if the weather in your area is too bad to plan a snow walk, I suggest just faking food poisoning.

4. YOU HAVE AN EXCUSE TO TAKE A BREAK

Is all the "family togetherness" beginning to wear on you? Need some time to text your friends back home/ stare off into the middle distance/ smoke a cigarette from that pack you hid in the garage in 8th grade? Then excuse yourself after dinner to shovel the driveway. It instantly makes you the "good" child — since no one wants to help you do such an unpleasant chore, you're guaranteed privacy; and since you volunteered, no one will be expecting you to do a very good job at it. It's a no-fail plan (unless your particularly dysfunctional family features siblings who have to do every single thing that you do, to prove that they can do it better. In which case, I would suggest just faking food poisoning).

5. YOU HAVE AN EXCUSE NOT TO VISIT OLD "FRIENDS"

Have you been hounded with Facebook messages from hometown "friends" who want you to come over and see their new baby while you're in town? "Friends" who didn't care when you graduated from med school or needed a shoulder to cry on about getting fired, but think you owe their little bundles of joy some quality time (and gifts)? Oh, fiddle-dee-dee, the roads are too bad! I'll have to take a rain check, but I'm sure little Wyatt Kelvin Douglasfir Whitney Tambourine Jones is growing up into a beautiful boy!

6. NO ONE IS GOING TO DEMAND THAT YOU STAND ON A BLACK FRIDAY LINE

If your family usually deals with their awkwardness by forcing everyone to line up outside of Best Buy for 16 hours in hopes of getting $20 off a Blu-Ray player, consider that one off the table this year. And if your family didn't see this bad weather coming and plan an alternative activity, this may even lead to hours of post-dinner free time! Dare you dream of such a thing?

7. NO ONE IS GOING TO DEMAND THAT YOU MAKE A LAST-SECOND YAM RUN

Do your parents often realize at the last second that they forgot to buy a key Thanksgiving ingredient — and then send you on a depressing journey around town to the five stores that are open, all of which are sold out of everything except soy hotdogs and buttermilk? Not this year, they're not! Everyone's just gonna eat whatever's in the house, even if it's just ham and pie crusts! Uh, yeah, I guess that one's more of a spiritual triumph than a practical one.

8. YOU CAN SCRAP THE WHOLE THING AND STAY HOME

If you're feeling especially emboldened by this bad weather, just pull the plug on the whole operation and stay home, snacking and relaxing. I mean, it's just too bad out there to drive! Your bus got canceled! They, uh, made your train turn around! You might even get some familial sympathy, which will go nicely with your unscheduled free day of watching movies and eating a Taco Bell Variety Pack in your pajamas. I mean, it's hard, but you're tough — I'm sure you'll find a way to make do.

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