Ah, Thanksgiving. That special time of year when you gather around the table and answer annoying, awkward questions from family members you haven't seen in years.

It's the same every year. Without fail, the same questions-- or at least the same topics-- come up at the dinner table and catch you so off guard, you usually answer with stutters. We're here to help: here are 5 questions to expect for 2018's meal and the best ways to answer them.

1. Did you vote yes or no for Prop 112?

Yikes. This question is nothing but a fracking disaster (pun very much intended). Politics and high-pressure local community issues are for sure going to come up this year, and if you feel like it'll cause a fight, keep it simple: "I don't think we should talk about politics at the dinner table." If you think it's worth a civil discussion, keep a few things in mind: make sure everyone involved is able to fully express their opinions, don't raise your voice, and don't let emotion enter the equation. Politics can be safe for the dinner table as long as everyone keeps their cool.

2. Are you dating anyone?

Welcome to the question I get every. Single. Year. Surrounded by married or engaged couples, someone from my family always tends to single me out (pun not intended this time) and ask me the awkward Q.

The best thing to remember about this one is that it's not usually coming from a judgmental or mean place. Usually, the person asking genuinely is curious about your life and for those that are single, it's an easy one to pull out of the back pocket. Feel free to steer the conversation towards something else: "No, because I've been so busy with work. Let me tell you about a project I've been working on." Or keep it short and sweet: "Not at the moment, but I'm happy with where I am." As long as you remember that your family is looking out for you, it won't feel overly personal.

3. Did you hear about [insert dramatic family member here]?

Family gossip is a big one I find myself caught up in, and it's easy to take a stance on someone when a person in your family has an obvious opinion about them. Try hard not to take that stance-- you never know if it's going to be the wrong one or if you'll change your mind as soon as you hear the other side of the story. Stay as neutral as possible when listening to family gossip, or opt out-- there's nothing wrong with faking a bathroom emergency ("Bad cranberry sauce-- gotta go!").

When you get a bunch of family together, awkward conversations are bound to happen. Keep your cool, stay confident in who you are and what you're doing in your life right now, and know that no matter what, family is supposed to love you. And if it seems like they still don't get it?

Bad cranberry sauce. Works every time.

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