Thanksgiving can be stressful all by itself. Things can get even worse when a presidential election happens a few weeks before Thanksgiving day. Some of your relatives might want to talk about politics. Here are some tips for coping with political discussions on Thanksgiving.
Make a conscious effort not to talk about the election at Thanksgiving dinner. Don’t ask your relatives who they voted for. Stay away from topics that were especially controversial during the election. Thanksgiving dinner is not the time to wear a political t-shirt, button, or hat that came from the campaign of the candidate you voted for. If no one starts a political conversation – there won’t be one!
Come to dinner with a list of topics that have nothing to do with politics. Talk about the football game that people are watching (or that happened earlier that day). Share a cute story about your pet. Discuss the weather. Compliment a relative on the dish she brought to dinner and ask her about the recipe. Be prepared to bring up one of these safe, friendly, topics the moment someone else starts a political rant.
Avoid alcohol. A tension filled family gathering can make people want a drink to help keep themselves calm. Unfortunately, alcohol can sometimes cause people to lose their inhibitions. It’s a lot easier to avoid talking with that one relative that enjoys picking fights if you are sober. A few glasses of wine could cause you to fight back and escalate the argument.
Some families have a tradition of going around the Thanksgiving dinner table and having everyone share something they are thankful for. It is an excellent way to diffuse the tension. Everyone is expected to give an answer, so people will be thinking about something nice they can say. It’s hard to stay angry at a family member who shared a warm, personal, positive memory with you.
Are you hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year? Hosts have the unique opportunity to divert and distract that one relative who has a history of saying mean things and starting arguments. Ask that person to help you set the table. Hand that person a plate of cut vegetables and ask if they could find room for it with the other appetizers. Send that person to the refrigerator in the garage to fetch more sodas. The possibilities are endless!
If all else fails, it helps to have an escape plan. A simple way to do it is by visiting more than one family member’s home on Thanksgiving day. Another option is to gather up some family members that you get along well with and hit the Thanksgiving Day Black Friday sales.
Photo by Peter Dutton Flickr
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