It was a cool afternoon in Alabama. The leaves had fallen, school was out for the week, and I was an awkward teenager visiting my (ex) boyfriend’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. I had carefully picked out my outfit and did my hair. I even applied a little make up besides just doing eyeliner which was my signature makeup look during high school. I really wanted to make a good impression on his family after all.
The introductions went without incident. In fact, most of the afternoon went fine! I felt a little less awkward by the time dinner was ready. I grabbed my plate and headed towards the Thanksgiving spread. After getting a little bit of everything, I sat with my (ex) boyfriend and started digging in.
Slowly everyone emerged from the kitchen to take a seat with their full plates. I was still chowing down and pretending to watch whatever football game was playing on TV. Then I heard his mother clear her throat pointedly. I looked over, and everyone was staring at me. Even my (ex) boyfriend.
I swallowed my mouthful of food and looked at him. He didn’t say a word, just looked at me with a mix of disappointment and embarrassment. His mother cleared her throat again. “We say prayer before we eat our meals in this house,” she snipped. My cheeks immediately flushed red, and I apologized shyly.
She started to pray so I bent my head down and closed my eyes, feeling incredibly embarrassed and more than a little pissed at my (ex) boyfriend for not giving me a heads up. She finished the prayer, and everyone muttered an “amen,” as you do. Everyone except me.
As everyone (finally) started eating, I finished my plate. Not knowing what to do, I sat awkwardly next to my (ex) boyfriend with my plate still in my hand. He made no move to give me any guidance or to make conversation. His mother saw this opportunity and moved in on me like a hawk hunting a mouse.
“Do you pray at your house?” She asked as she took a seat across from me, picking at her dressing.
“Not as much as we used to, but yes.” My face felt hot, and my hands were getting sweaty around my plate.
“What religion do you practice?” Her eyes darted over to my (ex) boyfriend before landing back on me.
“I would say that I was raised Baptist.” I hated talking about religion. Wasn’t there some kind of rule about not talking about religion or politics at family functions?
“Raised? Does your family practice another form of Christianity now? You are Christians right?” This could not be anymore of an interrogation at this point. I hoped against hope that my (ex) boyfriend would butt in and save me.
But he didn’t.
“My family are Christians.” I so did not want to get into this. Especially with her. How do I get out this conversation without looking like an asshole? I looked at my (ex) boyfriend, but he was avoiding eye contact with me. Freakin’ coward.
Her eyes were staring hard into mine now. “Are you a Christian?”
And there it is ladies and gentlemen! The real question she wanted to ask! Unfortunately during this time in my life I had yet to grow a spine so instead of telling her to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine, I answered her truthfully.
“Um… I’m agnostic.” I stuttered out. My face was beet red at this point. I was sweating through my cute top. I hated this feeling. I hated being cornered and made to feel ashamed.
She looked… angry. “Agnostic? Do you even know what that means? Have you read the Bible? I think it’d do you some good.” She finished the last bite on her plate and walked away.
I looked at my (ex) boyfriend who I will now refer to as Blank. “What the fuck, Blank?”
“Shhh! Don’t let her hear you cussing like that.” Blank looked over his shoulder towards the kitchen where his mother was getting dessert.
“You didn’t even step in! You just let her steamroll me!” I whispered angrily. I shoved my empty plate in his hands. “I gotta go.”
I took the keys from my pocket and headed out the door. Blank didn’t even get off the couch to see me out.
While that was a million years ago, I can look back at that moment as “That one time at Thanksgiving when I was shamed for being agnostic.” Yeah, it sucked, and I would have handled it much differently today. I learned that I shouldn’t be ashamed of who I am, but also that I needed a person who would stand up for me when I was being treated with disrespect!
What is the worst Thanksgiving family dinner conversation you were ever involved in? Let me know in the comments! Check out Daily Inklings on Normal Happenings for more prompts like this one!
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