There is no question that this election season has been brutal. Friends and family have blocked each other on social media, lines were drawn, sides were taken and the final vote counts left pretty much everyone either reeling or reveling.
Personal feelings aside, next week is Thanksgiving, which will likely be super awkward for many families. It is a time-honored tradition to come together and give thanks for our blessings and to reflect on the ways in gratitude can enrich our lives. Even so, this year will be tough for many families, instead of rubbing salt in wounds or grinding axes, try these five tips to avoid the topic of politics altogether at the dinner table.
Diffuse the tension with humor
You can’t be mad if you’re laughing, right? When your spider senses tell you that Uncle Bob is about to launch into a lecture on building walls then you can pull out some of these fun bits of distraction:
- This guy:
- Betty White turned 94:
- This funny episode of Friends:
Use flattery to change the subject
James Monroe once said, “A little flattery will support a man through great fatigue.” He must have been talking about family gatherings, because OMG, amirite? When the mood gets thick with chatter about politics find a way to interject a little of flattery with the goal of swiftly changing the direction of the conversation. Try these ideas:
- Courteously tell the person that you appreciate their interesting point of view and that you will think more about it and then ask a pointed question about an unrelated topic.
- Interject the conversation with a problem like a weird noise your car is making or a fox trying to kill your chickens or whatever and ask your “expert” family member (the one ranting about politics) for advice on how to solve it.
- Ask the person who won’t stop talking about politics if they lost weight, take an unpopular opinion on a TV show that you know they love (hey, at least they aren’t talking about Trump or Hillary), or claim that you met Stephen King at Starbucks in Bangor.
Create a diversion
If you tried humor and then you tried diplomacy with some slapdash flattery and nothing worked then opt for a straight up an old-fashioned diversion. Spill your wine on the table, “accidentally” fling your appetizer across the room a la Pretty Woman, break wind, ask everyone “did you just hear that?!”, in a worse case scenario, drop your plate of food on the floor, break a glass, “freak out” because you “saw” a “mouse” running under the table. Do whatever it takes to get everyone to just stop talking about politics.
Then introduce a new topic.
Draw attention to the food
Ask about the food! Where did the stuffing recipe come from? What recipes have been passed down the family line and for how long? Who hates Brussel sprouts as much as you do? Just. Talk. About. The. Food.
Mention Black Friday
The mere mention of Black Friday will get people chit chatting all darn day long. There is Aunt Peggy who thinks it is an abomination. There are the cousins who literally pull out store flyers and map out their shopping plans for later that night when they plan to show up to Target before they hit Best Buy. There are memes, and jokes, and loads of material all bound up in those two loaded words “Black Friday”.
Pull that trigger if you have to, it might be the thing that unites your family, well, after the mutual love of pies, that is.
The holidays are stressful enough, we know this, and this year may prove to be the most stressful ever if we don’t all collectively pull together and agree to disagree for the sake of a tryptophan food coma.
Besides, when all else fails, just start arguing about religion.