10 Ways to Deal With Conservative Relatives During the Holidays

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on November 19, 2012.

While Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to reconnect with your relatives, if you’re like me — a progressive, who comes from a conservative family — this reunion can also be a source of great stress. This year is no exception; just weeks after the 2018 midterms, the likelihood of a political conversation is greater than ever.

Here are 10 ways to deal with your conservative relatives over the holidays:

1. Remember the Blue Wave

While this doesn’t mean you should gloat, let the successes from Election Day give you the peace of mind to get through the meal. 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, take a bite of pumpkin pie, 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 the 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 that 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 marijuana legalization in Michigan.

5. Cheer on the Football Team

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 the sport.

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 your grandma’s devotion to “making America great again,” instead respect the human lifespan. Breathe easily in the knowledge that you’ll have many more ballots to cast, 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. And always pass the food around the table clockwise (i.e. to the left).

10. Don’t 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, don’t 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.

Related Stories:
When Politics Come Up at Thanksgiving
“Turkey Tips” for a Smooth Thanksgiving
6 Thanksgiving Staples That Contain BPA

Photo credit: Getty Images

378 comments

Naomi D
Naomi D9 days ago

Good ideas.

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Philip W
Philip W13 days ago

Here is the petition information again just in case you would like to treat others with respect, love, and compassion and haven't done so yet.

Tell Congress: Stop the Native American land grab

Sign the petition

The petition to Congress reads:
"Reject any legislation, including the Emery County Public Land Management Act, that undermines tribal sovereignty or strips land away from Native people."

It's absolutely deplorable: Western-state Republicans are once again attempting to rip sovereign tribal land away from Native Americans in Utah and give it to the fossil fuel industry.

https://act.credoaction.com/sign/land_grab_2018

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Philip W
Philip W13 days ago

Paul B, did you sign the petition for the Native Americans? I know you must have since you have stated, we should treat others, [with] respect, love, compassion".

And since you want to "remain focused on the original intent of good", then you must realize it was the Native Americans that did good and saved the invading Pilgrims from annihilation. So yes, let's focus on that. However, we can't live in denial and ignorance simply because we don't like the fact that the Puritans were evil and violent in many ways and were a detriment to the natives more than anything else.

And what "you can't deny" is that calling their saviors "heathen savages", then slaughtering them and stealing their land, is NOT in a "sense of cooperation and thanks for good things". Although, once the Pilgrims slaughtered their saviors, THEY did declare "a day of thanksgiving" over their rescuers. Which you evidently choose to believe was an act of compassion.

You are not arguing anything, you are simply living in denial against history and reality. And it will NOT change for you.

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Paul B
Paul B14 days ago

Philip,
I won't argue with you regarding any of the incidents you describe occurred. Humans have always prostituted and twisted good into evil. Religion is a prime example of how humans took the power of control over others and did many bad things with it.
What you can't deny is the "original" Thanksgiving was NOT grounded in hatred but in a sense of cooperation and thanks for good things. If we allow tragic twisting of good into evil, then we would likely have very little good in this world. We must remain focused on the original intent of good. The concepts behind religion, how we should treat others, respect, love, compassion, etc outweigh all the bad ways humans have twisted that message.
I think you are getting caught in that trap with your interpretation. Focus on the good of what Thanksgiving means in its original intent and how we observe it today.

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Philip W
Philip W15 days ago

And, of course, it is still happening.

Tell Congress: Stop the Native American land grab

Sign the petition

The petition to Congress reads:
"Reject any legislation, including the Emery County Public Land Management Act, that undermines tribal sovereignty or strips land away from Native people."

It's absolutely deplorable: Western-state Republicans are once again attempting to rip sovereign tribal land away from Native Americans in Utah and give it to the fossil fuel industry.

https://act.credoaction.com/sign/land_grab_2018

SEND
Philip W
Philip W15 days ago

Continued:

"In 1621 the myth of thanksgiving was born. The colonists invited Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoags, to their first feast as a follow up to their recent land deal. Massasoit in turn invited 90 of his men, much to the chagrin of the colonists. Two years later the English invited a number of tribes to a feast "symbolizing eternal friendship." The English offered food and drink, and two hundred Indians dropped dead from unknown poison."

"The first day of thanksgiving took place in 1637 amidst the war against the Pequots. 700 men, women, and children of the Pequot tribe were gathered for their annual green corn dance on what is now Groton, Connecticut. Dutch and English mercenaries surrounded the camp and proceeded to shoot, stab, butcher and burn alive all 700 people. The next day the Massachusetts Bay Colony held a feast in celebration and the governor declared "a day of thanksgiving." In the ensuing madness of the Indian extermination, natives were scalped, burned, mutilated and sold into slavery, and a feast was held in celebration every time a successful massacre took place. The killing frenzy got so bad that even the Churches of Manhattan announced a day of "thanksgiving" to celebrate victory over the "heathen savages," and many celebrated by kicking the severed heads of Pequot people through the streets like soccer balls."

https://rense.com/general45/thanks.htm

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Philip W
Philip W15 days ago

Continued:

"Luckily, for the colonists, an ex-slave named Squanto had recently escaped slavery in England, spoke English fluently and was able to instruct the pilgrims in crop planting, fishing, and hunting. Squanto not only escaped from slavery, he was also one of the only survivors of his tribe, the rest had been wiped out from the European smallpox plagues years before. When it came to helping the rag-tag team of colonists, Squanto, not only was able to put aside his personal differences with the people who had enslaved him and killed off his entire tribe, but also helped make the colonists self-sufficient, and aided in brokering a treaty with the Wampanoag tribe. In 1621 Massasoit, the chief of the Wampanoags, signed a "treaty of friendship" giving the English permission to occupy 12,000 acres of land."

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Philip W
Philip W15 days ago

Paul B, you cannot "pick and choose" just the nice history like some religious zealot who only likes "the nice verses" in their holy book.

"The arrival of Europeans on the east cost of North America occurred not in 1620, but well before. French and Dutch fishermen and settlers had been in the area as early as 1614, and had been responsible for kidnapping Indians, selling them into slavery, and maliciously infecting them with smallpox."

"In 1620, the pilgrims arrived on the east coast and within two days they had received assistance from the local Wampanoag Indian tribe: The pilgrims stole their stored crops, dug up graves for dishes and pots, and took many native people as prisoners and forced them to teach crop planting and survival techniques to the colonists in their new environment."

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Philip W
Philip W15 days ago

Continued:

Paul, you even admit that your sickly sweet and sentimental account is "according to William Bradford, the leader, governor of the Pilgrims" who in actuality describes the Native Americans as "savage and brutish men". He goes on to say if the Pilgrims do survive their struggles they would be "in continual danger of the savage people who are cruel, barbarous, and most treacherous". At this point before their emigration, Bradford had a very ignorant and adverse view of the Native Indians.

Over half of the Puritans had died and more were getting sick until "a certain Indian came boldly amongst them and spoke to them in broken English". The Native Americans began helping the Puritans, teaching them how to survive, and it is very clear that they helped the Plymouth Plantation survive.

Your ludicrous little story makes it seem that the native Americans worshiped the ground the Pilgrims walked on, when actually, the Puritans would not have survived without them. The truth is that the Puritans were detrimental to the Native Americans. If the natives had known what their future would hold, I'm sure they wouldn't have made that mistake.

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Philip W
Philip W15 days ago

Paul B, what you have written is utter nonsense. Initially the natives did try to coexist with the invaders, however, history and reality reveals what happened to them: genocide, concentration camps, murder, torture, theft of their land, war, and much more. Your denying of this history is equivalent to denying the holocaust.

"From the time Europeans arrived on American shores, the frontier-the edge territory between white man's civilization and the untamed natural world-became a shared space of vast, clashing differences that led the U.S. government to authorize over 1,500 wars, attacks and raids on Indians, the most of any country in the world against its indigenous people. By the close of the Indian Wars in the late 19th century, fewer than 238,000 indigenous people remained, a sharp decline from the estimated 5 million to 15 million living in North America when Columbus arrived in 1492."

https://www.history.com/news/native-americans-genocide-united-states




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