What To Do When Your Family Starts Talking About Politics During the Holidays This Year

What To Do When Your Family Starts Talking About Politics During the Holidays This Year

You want to throw hands but you also are starving and just want to eat dinner in peace.

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Picture this: Christmas dinner, everyone's gathered around the table. You're laughing, passing the bread around clockwise. Then you hear it coming on the wind, the way a dog senses a storm. Politics are in the air. Your family supports Trump. They don't want immigrants to bring guns or take their guns because of the Second Amendment and 1776 was the best year ever. Trump has been so strong in the face of the midterm election results. Mueller should be drowned in a river like in ye olde witch hunts. Trump 2020. MAGA.

You feel every muscle in your body tense up because you've been here before. Eyes shift to you. You can literally see the chuckles rising up through their chests. "So…. how is that blue wave doing? Ha ha ha ha ha." You want to throw hands but you also are starving and just want to eat dinner in peace. Why did they wait until now do to this? The least they could do is begin the fight over the cheese platter so there's a lesser emotional investment.

What do you do?

We're still a few weeks out from the formal start of the holiday season (I'm just going to say it but you're honestly wrong if you start celebrating the holidays before the week of Thanksgiving), but in the few days following a heated and at times upsetting midterm election season, it's never too early to start preparing for the worst. If your family begins talking about politics at the dinner table at any point this holiday season, use this guide for survival. Godspeed all.

"While I want to keep this conversation alive, I really wanted to talk to you guys about something else... my GPA."

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We all have to make sacrifices in this life. This is a hard shift and should only be used when the conversation turns ugly, but it could save a life.

"I'm thinking of writing in Kanye on the ballot in 2020."

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Regardless of what side of the aisle your family is on, they will have an opinion about Kanye's relationship with politics. This is an especially good pivot to use if there are a solid number of older family members present who have absolutely no idea who Kanye West is, which allows you to completely 180º the conversation into a pop culture argument. You're welcome.

“I’m going to hike Mount Everest.”

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It doesn't matter if you're the laziest person in the world, Republican or Democrat. If you tell your grandmother you will be hiking Everest, then talk about how you want to change your life/get in shape/see the world, she will brag about you to literally every single person she's ever met, ever. That's a grandmother's greatest dream: telling Cheryl to fucking suck it because you climbed Everest and Cheryl's grandkid didn't.

“I don’t think we should talk about politics on the anniversary of George Michael’s death.”

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I don't know about you guys, but hearing George Michael had died put a bit of a damper on my Christmas. Everyone loves George Michael, and your mom will most likely back you up if you whip this one out. I know mine will likely tear up or stop crying because she cares about me… and also really loves George Michael.

George Michael seems like the kind of guy who would have wanted you to use the power of his name to shut shit down, too. Do it in his honor.

“American politics won’t matter much to me, since I’m moving to [whatever country you studied abroad in].”

This one is a little more niche, for all of the boujee among us. Nothing scares your grandparents like threatening them to leave the country and actually having a place to go. So long as you didn't study abroad in Canada, this is one that they will probably believe without too much pushing, and you can ride it until the end of time.

Getting close to the time you're supposed to be leaving? No problem; your program got canceled but you're looking for another one… that you just so happen to find the next time they mention politics.

“I’m pregnant.”

This one will get them to shut up real quick.

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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