It’s that time of the year again and after the past three weeks or so, we’ve all been trying to make a quick escape route in case of “the argument.” At the very best, Thanksgiving can be thorny, with relatives all around and new topics to talk about that haven’t been discussed yet. Exhaustion and stress from traveling, plus intrusive questions from relatives, plus free-flowing wine can be a dangerous combination.
This Thanksgiving, in particular, will be a tough one for many of us. This was a contentious election, and people on all sides feel very strongly. There’s one thing most everyone can agree on: this presidential contest has been one of the nastiest and most divisive in modern history, breaking up friendships, pitting spouses against each other, and leaving many feeling emotionally raw.
That’s even the case among Trump fans. While they are celebrating a renewed sense of optimism about the country’s future, they also said they are tired of hearing their liberal friends and relatives tell them that their support of Trump means they agree with his racist, sexist and xenophobic rhetoric.
For some, the holidays have never been easy. It’s challenging enough that they have to feign warm, easy feelings for a parent, in-law or grouchy uncle with whom they share a difficult history. But this year, some say they don’t think they can sit down at the table with a relative who voted for a candidate whose values totally go against everything they stand for. So how do you get through dinner without it devolving into a shouting match?
Well here are some alternative topics to bring up in case a family member decides it is time to bring up Hillary and Trump:
1. What do you think of voters approving of the use of medical marijuana in Florida?
2. What famous person would be fun to have at your feast?
3. What is the funniest holiday memory you have?
4. What was the best piece of advice you ever got?
5. What’s the best kind of pie?
6. Pick a person at the table and say something that you enjoy or appreciate about them.
7. What is something special that someone at the table has done for you and why does it matter?
8. Who do you miss the most today who can’t be here?
9. If this was your last Thanksgiving, what is something you would like to say to everyone?
10. Share one happy memory from a past Thanksgiving holiday.
11. Besides turkey, what food makes Thanksgiving complete?
12. If you had $100 and it had to be spent on someone at this table, who and what would it be?
13. The worst thing to shop for is ________?
14. Pick out someone at the table and tell him or her why you are thankful for them.
15. For which are you most thankful: health, warmth, safety, food, (or pick something else)?
16. How do you hope to be remembered?
17. How have you changed in the last few years?
18. Who should you appreciate more and why?
19. What’s your favorite warm beverage and when was the last time you had it with someone you don’t live with who is sitting at the table today?
20. What’s something that used to scare you?
21. On Black Friday, will you stay in and shop online in the comfort of jammies or be bold and venture out to the crowded malls for some bargains?
And if all else fails and you end up talking about the presidential election, remember that you technically love these people.
When you're talking with someone at Thanksgiving, try to remember that though these people may have differing views, as long as they are being respectful towards you, they are your family and love you.
In other words: Yes, you believe very strongly in securing our borders or protecting a woman's right to choose, and you care because those things are important. But deep down, you know a holiday conversation is unlikely to result in your relative being suddenly, completely converted to your side.
When they talk, pay attention, even if steam is pouring out of your ears. Really, truly listen to them and try to respect where they're coming from. The goal should be to have a civil conversation with someone you love, to try and understand why they voted the way they did and try to tell them why you don’t agree with that.Try to keep in mind that it is Thanksgiving, and try to find some joy in being with your loved ones this holiday season-- even if they do all vote in a way that you don’t necessarily approve of.