So it’s that wonderful time of year again. The time of year when we reflect on the few good times shared by pilgrims and Native Americans, when turkeys become the "it girl" of family meals, and when many people travel back to their hometowns to celebrate a great holiday I like to call: Thanksgiving. For a lot of people though, going home for Thanksgiving means returning after a long hiatus, whether it’s because they’ve moved to a new city, been traveling the world, or (in my case) been at college.

For me, behind the veil of unparalleled Thanksgiving joy is an anxious young man chewing on his fingernails in the fetal position worrying about anything and everything having to do with going home. How will everyone react? Am I different? Do I seriously want to go home? Will I make my flight? Will a plane hit my plane? And if that last one doesn’t kill me, what (if anything) will? But of all the questions and hypotheticals racing through my mind, probably the biggest one is: how am I going to deal with this whole return to familiarity?

Turns out Drake is doing a super secret underground show right before Thanksgiving in your current city and you know the exact time and place. Luckily, I’m not the only bitch in the game dealing with this crap. So if you’re in the same sinking ship I like to call the "S.S. Thanksgiving Return," then here are the five stages you’ll probably endure on your way to the gravy boat.

Stage 1: Excitement

So it’s been what, four months since you’ve seen your family and friends back home? There are a lot of cool things back where you grew up: good food, decent sights, pets, and liquor stores. Yes, there’s a lot to go back to, and since you’re not going to be home for very long, you want to do everything and then some. Do something crazy! It’s kind of like an end of the world scenario, so leave yourself the option to do anything you want that isn’t technically illegal. You’re practically just as powerful as a honey badger with a rocket launcher; there’s nothing that can stop you! Or is there?

Stage 2: Realization

While on your little power trip you begin to wonder why you even left your hometown in the first place. Even if you didn’t really have a choice, you still spent a huge chunk of your life there, so wanting the get the hell out of said place means one of two things:

  • You just wanted to explore the world and expand your horizons, or…
  • THE PLACE YOU GREW UP IN FUCKING SUCKS!
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Suddenly all the bad memories begin to pop up. Memories like how you were never invited to any parties, or when everyone in kindergarten found out you liked the cute Asian girl in class, or when you had to forge makeshift knives and fight for survival on the streets. It’s high school all over again! Aww man, what did you get yourself into?!?!

At this point you’re freaking out. But hey, you can’t turn back now. I mean, you did drop a few hundred on this plane ticket. Now all you can do is put on your big kid pants and take your sad ass to the [insert mode of transportation here] station.

Stage 3: Regret

Ugh, you’re going back home. And at this point you’ve realized that you don’t want to do this—if you haven’t realized it yet, read stage 2 again. Turns out Drake is doing a super secret underground show right before Thanksgiving in your current city and you know the exact time and place. In fact, the venue is literally the building next to where you live. And to make matters worse, you were personally invited by Drake himself to see the show!!

Okay, so Drake didn’t invite you, but still. Awesome things will be going down and you’re going to be missing them because you decided to eat turkey on a Thursday. The only thing that could make your current situation any worse would be having to spend time around people who know most, if not all of your weaknesses. Oh wait! You will have to be around those people won’t you? Well, at least there will be turkey…and blood…but mostly turkey. Which leads us to the next stage…

Stage 4: Denial

So you’ve weighed the cons and cons of your decision to go home this Thanksgiving. Right about now you’re sitting waiting for your ride back home and suddenly you see a little glimmer of hope. A glimmer I like to call delusion. You’ve recognized that there’s going to be a lot of unpleasant things that go along with your trek back home, but instead of sulking, you begin to paint a bright side on something and look at it. Will you be bored out of your mind because there’s nothing fun to do? Yes. But this gives you time to get some reading done, and if you can’t read, it’s a great time to learn how to read.

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Are there multiple people back home who annoy the hell out of you? Of course! And seeing them again will just build up your tolerance for bitches you don’t like. Did you and your friends accidentally kill a man one summer and swear to each other never to tell anyone? OBVIOUSLY! Now you finally have the chance to turn yourself in to the authorities, or better yet, turn your ordeal into a screenplay that’s already been written. Everything’s an up if you turn it the right way!

So now that you feel slightly better, we slowly ease into the final stage…

Stage 5: Acceptance

You’ve come to the final part of your ordeal, and for some reason you feel fine… good even? After all that worrying about being home for the holidays you finally make it there, and everything is pretty okay. Your family members aren’t total assholes, and it seems like everybody who annoyed you when you lived there is either dead or nowhere to be found.

Some of the good things you thought might happen when you arrived are actually happening: free food, lower sales tax, and hey look, it’s your old pet! Unless your pet died, in which case I apologize for bringing up a bad memory (unless your pet was anything other than a dog or a cat—in that case you deserve every bad memory you get). Magically, all seems right in the world, and with Thanksgiving coming up in either one day or a few hours, like French Montana, you’re not worried ‘bout nothing but a dying rap career.

So go get drunk, you deserve it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Keep calm and enjoy Thanksgiving

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