Around The Kitchen Table

Around The Kitchen Table

Dealing with those in-laws and extended family that are not even a little bit politically correct.

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Thanksgiving is one of those few times a year in which all of your family finds itself sitting around the table. For the day to day you are used to eating with your immediate family, and maybe even your grandparents, but not those family members that you probably see only three times a year. Yes they are family, and yes you love them tons, but you know that when it comes to anything slightly political, blood suddenly isn't as thick as water.

For some, the solution for these political disagreements is to avoid talking about politics at all simply. Most families ban them, stating that they do not want to fight on one of the few days a year when everyone is together, and I agree with that sentiment. Thanksgiving for me is one of my favorite holidays, and I know that the worst thing would be if it got ruined with a petty fight over politics or controversial topics.

But, I do not think that completely avoiding politics is something that really does any good for anyone and I believe that there are ways to be able to discuss something without it becoming a full-blown fight. Being able to discuss with someone who has an opposing view is an opportunity to understand better why they believe in what they believe, and Thanksgiving works as a place that brings people together.

My biggest advice for people who are going to be facing people with opposing political views is to simply stop and listen to what they have to say and to go into it with the mentality that you aren't going to be able to change their mind. Knowing that the point of the conversation isn't to convince the other person of your beliefs will allow emotions to be dampened so that you can actually listen to the other person.

The only caveat to this is that if a person says something that is racist or homophobic or just blatantly wrong, call them out on it. Yes they might be family, and yes they might be older than you, but that does not make it ok to say things that are offensive. These are points in which you cannot allow someone to talk like that, even if they have "always been like that."

So for any of you who are brave enough to engage these topics this year at Thanksgiving here are my three biggest takeaways:

1) Do not try to go into the conversation to change their opinion

2) Listen to the other person and their ideas

3) Call them out if they are offensive

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10 Fun Facts About Animals That Will 100% Make Your Day

A little animal pick-me-up.

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The beautiful world that we live in is filled with so many different animals that are all unique and special. There's something to learn from each living creature on our Earth. Here are some facts about animals that will surely make you smile and maybe give you the pick up that you need!

1. 3% of the ice in Antarctica is made of penguin urine

Penguins really make their mark.

2. Dolphins name their friends

Dolphins associate a sound to each of their friends.

3. Cows love to listen to music

Cows have been shown to produce more milk when listening to slow music.

4. And they have best friends

They get stressed out when their best friend is not with them.

5. Honeybees know how to dance

They dance to survive and tell fellow honeybees where the flowers are.

6. Rats like to be tickled

Rats laugh when tickled. Who doesn't like to be tickled?

7. Squirrels will adopt orphans

If baby squirrels are left abandoned, fellow squirrels will take them in.

8. Elephants self-soothe

We all need some self love.

9. Worms want companionship and with companions snuggle

We all love to snuggle, even worms.

10. Quokka's can smile

I think I found my new favorite animal.

Hopefully, these facts about animals make you feel warm and fuzzy. Have a great day.

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Avatar: The Last Airbender Is Still Iconic, And Here's Why

Although it's a children's cartoon from the 2000s, ATLA remains one of the greatest shows ever made.

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Avatar: The Last Airbender ended in 2008, but I've watched the full series at least ten other times since then. I was a big fan of ATLA when it was first airing, but sometimes I marvel at how lasting it's impact is over a decade later. I've seen ATLA bumper stickers and tattoos depicting the four elements, not mention that I myself have a "Jasmine Dragon" sticker on my laptop resembling the Starbucks logo. ATLA was incredible. It's witty, fun, emotionally impactful, interesting in plot, and filled with relatable characters. "Korra" was a nice attempt to follow up on a passionate fanbase, but it ultimately didn't resonate with viewers to the same degree. That said, sometimes people wonder why I'm still so invested in a kid's cartoon from the 2000s. Here's why.

The show referenced a variety of cultures from around the world

If you've watched the show, you've probably realized that there aren't actually any "white" characters in the Avatar-verse. Not that European cultures aren't valid, but it is notable that the show was created as an appreciation of cultures that often go overlooked. The art and music were heavily influenced by East and South Asia, and the different nations clearly reference Asian and indigenous traditions. Earth Kingdom cities were based off of real cities in East Asia, and the culture depicted drew from various East Asian nations as well. The same applies to the fire nation, which was originally modeled off of Japan and China. The water tribes have their foundations in Inuit and Sireniki cultures, and the air nomads are based on Tibetans, Sri Lankan Buddhists, and Shaolin Monks. There are many other historical references throughout "Avatar," including a nod to ancient Mesopotamia in the Sun Warriors.

The characters were complex and relatable

"ATLA" didn't just give us a typical group of teenage heroes, with each one fitting into a typical mold. They were complex and realistic, and that's what made them relatable. We saw Aang balance his role as Avatar with his personal moral philosophy, all while experiencing the onset of puberty and young adulthood. We watched Katara struggle with responsibility as the main female role model in her family after her mother's death. We observed and related to Toph and Zuko's complex relationships with their families, including the influence that an abusive parent can have on a young life. We experienced the struggles of inferiority to "better" friends with Sokka, and even learned about toxic friendships with Mai and Ty Lee. These were all growing kids and teenagers, and nothing could have been more genuine.

"ATLA" gave us some incredible, strong female leads to look up to

Katara was truly the first feminist I ever encountered on television. Not only did she become a master waterbender in the span of weeks, she also taught the Avatar! And the whole time, she reminded us that strong fighters can be feminine too. Meanwhile, Toph showed us that just because a person has a disability, doesn't mean that they are defined by it. In fact, Toph's blindness only enhances her abilities, rather than holding her back. We also encounter powerful female characters like Azula (I know, she's evil, but that doesn't make her any less of a prodigy), Ty Lee, Mai, Suki (and all the Kyoshi warriors for that matter), Smellerbee, and even Princess Yue (who literally died for her people, mind you).

It made a deep, dramatic topic witty and fun

It occurred to me recently that "Avatar" is basically about imperialism and genocide. The Fire Nation decides to take over the world through military force, and it does so by exterminating an entire people and occupying and colonizing everyone else. For such a deep topic, you wouldn't think the show would be quite as fun as it is, but it is. I've restarted watching, and I find myself constantly laughing. With Sokka's sarcastic comments, Iroh's oddities, and everybody else's regular quips, "ATLA" is regularly lighthearted and never takes itself too seriously.

There's some real wise advice throughout

Finally, what "ATLA" is really known for, is its heart. Uncle Iroh provides us with a regular understanding of the world around us, encouraging us to see the world in balance and look for our true selves. His wise words ring true throughout childhood and adulthood. The underlying themes and messages of the show, including balance, friendship, love, and loyalty, all serve the greater purpose of advising the audience.

In summary, "Avatar" was amazing. If you haven't, I highly recommend you do. If you have, maybe go rewatch!

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