While Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to reconnect with your relatives, if you’re like me, a lefty, who comes from a conservative family, this reunion can also be a source of great stress. This year is no exception; just weeks after a Presidential election, the likelihood of a political conversation is greater than ever. Here are 10 ways to deal with your conservative relatives during the holidays:
1. Remember That Your Side Won
While this doesn’t mean you should gloat, let the fact that the majority of the country elected a Democratic President give you the peace of mind to get through the meal. At the end of the day, wouldn’t you rather endure your drunk cousin saying homophobic things for an hour than having to hear that come from your Commander in Chief? If your relatives are busy filling up on sour grapes, that just means more cranberry sauce for you.
2. Focus on the Food
You can’t get into a heated discussion when your mouth is full of yams. When the discussion turns political, stuff your mouth, or perhaps interrupt to loudly compliment your aunt’s green beans. If the conversation persists, a simple plea of “Are we here to argue or are we here to eat?” is sure to win over both the moderates and gluttons at the table.
3. Offer to Do the Dishes
No one likes cleaning up after such a big feast, so no matter how much ire you’ve received based on your leftist views, you’re sure to win back brownie points by taking on the dishwashing. Plus, it’s a good way to excuse yourself from the conversation. If you’re particularly livid at this point in the night, you could also just pull a Paul Ryan and pose for a photo while pretending to wash a dish before booking it altogether.
4. Find Common Ground
Left or right, surely there are some topics everyone at the table can agree on, like equal pay for women or better services for veterans. You could try to maneuver a political conversation to something less entrenched in partisanship like recent ballot measures such as the Massachusetts assisted suicide amendment or medicinal marijuana. Failing that, even people who voted for Obama must have some reservations about him. Throw out a criticism (drone warfare, super PACs, the NDAA, etc.) and see where the conversation goes. Even if your relatives still disagree with you, at least it’s fun to see them having to defend an Obama stance for once.
5. Love Football
When your uncle turns the channel to Fox News, ask him to check the football scores. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t seen a Super Bowl in ten years, desperate times call for desperate measures, and you now have a sudden intense love for football. In case you are faking fandom, it might help to know that the games that day are Texans vs. Lions, Redskins vs. Cowboys, and Patriots vs. Jets.
6. Brush Up on Your Facts
Odds are that this isn’t your first holiday meal with your folks. By now, you already know if your dinner conversation is going to devolve into a political debate, and if it is, do your research. As awful as it feels to be attacked, you’ll feel even worse if you are not prepared to adequately rebut. After eloquently stating your opinions, even if no one else at the table agrees, you can at least be pleased and confident with yourself.
7. Respect Your Elders
Sometimes it’s not worth it to bicker with a senior citizen, no matter how much you disagree. Understand that someone with a lifelong party affiliation is not going to suddenly change her stripes. If you’re unable to respect Grandma’s Birther views, instead respect the human lifespan. Breathe easily in the knowledge that you’ll have many more ballots to cast than Grandma and that the tides are changing in this country.
8. Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen
Why not live out your politics? If you don’t believe, as your father spouts, that the less fortunate have only themselves to blame, then go help out somewhere. Not only will it help you to reaffirm your own principles, but it gives you an opportunity to get out of the house for at least part of the day.
9. Critique Subtly
With some families, you’re so outnumbered that you just can’t win. In that case, push for small, silent victories. Bring an organic, vegan dish to share. Make sure to put both dark and white turkey meat on your plate to signify racial harmony. Purposefully fail to salt 47% of your mashed potatoes. Always pass the food around the table clockwise (i.e. to the left).
10. Do Not Talk about Politics
We’re all passionate about our beliefs, but you’re not a sellout if you decide to have an argument-free Thanksgiving. As crazy as it may seem, just do not bring up politics. If someone else does, do not engage. While political discourse is extremely important, so are family bonds. Thanksgiving is about loving and sharing, not winning, so resolve to put aside your differences… at least until Christmas.
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