By Lisa Nault
Thanksgiving—the holiday that would be forgotten between Halloween and Christmas if it were not for the three-day break from school.
It is a time of year where people get together with their families, reflect on what they are thankful for, and eat large meals that then make everyone sleepy. It also celebrates the meal the Pilgrims and Native Americans shared together, but many people do not wish to celebrate that aspect of Thanksgiving because it portrays the real brutal history between the two in a kinder light.
Many people may not be looking forward to Thanksgiving this year because they do not want to interact with family members who have opposing political views.
It will be difficult, but it is possible to survive Thanksgiving this year. Below are a list of helpful reminders to get everyone through the holiday.
1) Establish a “no politics” rule
It may seem simple and it may not work but it is worth a try. As relatives arrive for the holiday party let everyone know that there will be no politics that evening. If someone else is hosting the gathering, share this idea with them and have them reach out to the guests.
The ideal goal for the Thanksgiving party is to have no arguments occur. for this to happen, politics must be kept out of the conversations.
2) Do not feel pressured to be the bigger person
It is nice to think about the holiday party going smoothly and politics staying out of conversation, however people may still not want to speak to their relative who voted for the other candidate. They may be upset with what that person is directly/indirectly supporting by endorsing their candidate. They might not want to give them a hug.
They might not want to talk to them. They might not want to be civil to them. Understand that it is valid to have those feelings and nobody should make anyone put aside their values for the sole purpose of being nice for the holiday.
People can get out of a situation instead of pretending that there is no animosity.
3) Team up
Not everyone will have a relative who also supports their own political views but if they do, they need to team up with them. Either the relative could be backup if an argument does break out or they can be an excuse to avoid a conversation.
If a teammate looks like they need help, you can enter the conversation and redirect it to a different topic (maybe about the World Series or the bad winter that is predicted to come). The person could also call to you from across the room thus providing an excuse for you to physically leave the conversation. Secret hand signals would be cool to plan ahead.
4) Musical chairs
If you do not want to sit next to someone in particular because an argument is sure to occur? Move seats. If it is possible, plan the relatives that would be good to sit with and go to them.
If the situation arises and you end up sitting near the bad relative, make an excuse to go somewhere else. Here are some examples: get up for more food, ask Nana if she would like to sit in your comfy chair, ask another relative if they would like to continue a conversation that was held earlier and if you could sit with them to discuss matters further, say you feel the need to catch a real turkey that just walked by the window.
Whatever the excuse, just get out of there. It may appear to be passive aggressive but that is better than an altercation happening.
5) Plan an escape route
This is covered in the previous bullet to a degree but always have a backup plan. If relatives start talking politics say the dogs need to be walked and leave the house (probably with the dogs as to not be so obvious but that is your choice). Say you need to go check on the food and make sure the kids have not gotten into the desserts yet. Say you have to go to the bathroom.
Call out a relative from across the room and excuse yourself to talk to them. Whatever the strategy is, plan it and execute it if necessary.
6) Call people out
Again, not everyone can challenge their relatives on their views but if you feel comfortable or at least safe to do so, call them out. Let them know that racist comments, sexist remarks, and misinformation will not be permitted.
Confront them about the perpetual nature of their bigoted statements. If they hide behind freedom of speech, fire back at them that freedom of speech protects them from being arrested by the government. It does not give them a free pass to spew hatred.
7) Reward yourself
After the holiday party is over and the relatives are gone, reward yourself. Eat Ben & Jerry’s, watch Netflix, turn your music up loud, or whatever you want to do. You deserve it.
8) Family is not necessarily blood
Remember that your relatives are not the only family you have. You may be stuck with them but your friends are the family you chose for yourself. They love, support, and stand by you. Be thankful that you have THAT amazing family.
Hopefully the holiday will go smoothly but if it does not just enjoy the food and rest.