Just when you thought you might have a little break from all the anxiety created by this election year, Thanksgiving has appeared on the horizon.
As if the holiday that already boasts extra-high levels of stress due to travel and cooking mass quantities of food wasn’t enough, the divisiveness that’s been caused by this election has polarized friends and families in unprecedented ways.
With less than two weeks for us to process our feelings (because the universe likes to torture us), many of us will have to face those loved ones across a dinner table with only a cooked bird and roasted root vegetables to protect us.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had a handy guide to help you navigate the sticky situations that might arise?
Well, this year, you will! Upworthy reached out to our readers to find out how they plan to deal with uncomfortable political conversations when they arise at the Thanksgiving table. Hundreds of responses poured in, and we compiled the best ones for you.
Here are 25 ways people are navigating their Thanksgiving plans this year:
(Responses have been edited for length and clarity.)
1. “Focus on commonalities. Focus on positives. Plan topic ideas to bring up. Maybe ban political talk.” — David Bishop/Twitter.
2. “Try to only say statements reasonable people should agree with: We need unity. People deserve equality and fairness.” — Chris Blue/Twitter.
3. “Consider having a compassionate meal with friends instead. You don’t have to go.” — @Aviatrixt/Twitter.
4. “For today, I’d rather have a good amicable relationship with them than be ‘right’ or ‘win.’ Because for a while there, our differences robbed us of being able to come together as a family. So there are things I won’t engage with them about to maintain my own peace.” — Alesandra Nahodil/Facebook.
5. “Just don’t go. Stick with people you actually like. I don’t understand why people keep up toxic relationships just because it’s family and you think you have to. You don’t.” — Michelle Edgar/Facebook.
6. “I planned to host it at my house this year, however, the last time my family was together they tried to tell me the holocaust was a hoax… so I’m volunteering to feed the homeless instead!” — Mary Jordan/Facebook.
7. “I think this might be the year to have those conversations. We need to talk about what is going on, on a very personal level. If you are concerned about the racial hatred going on right now, you need to show that to your people — your family.” — Louise Woletz-Hinz/Facebook.
8. “Kindly explain to them that they’ve been duped by a racist narcissist sociopath who will conspire with elites to make their condition worse.” — Christopher R Walker/Twitter.
9. “Let the grandkids lecture the grandparents. It’s devastatingly effective.” — Hesiod Theogeny/Twitter.
10. “My plan is to simply not discuss politics at Thanksgiving. I won’t bring it up and if anyone else does, I’ll just leave the room.” — Carrie Wiese/Facebook.
11. “Believe it or not, you CAN have healthy, functional and genuinely loving relationships with people who you don’t agree with…Your beliefs are your own, and you are more likely to change a person’s mind about something by being kind and being able to lightly and politely discuss things without getting emotionally charged.” — Courtney Jonnae Hogan/Facebook.
12. “When it’s being pushed, I simply say, ‘We know we disagree with each other. I’d like to move on.’ It may sound like weakness to some, but I’ve experienced more peace that way.” — Jenn Visconti Stegman/Facebook.
13. “My general thoughts are that listening is needed to diffuse conservative fear and anger.” — Matthew Troy-Regier/Twitter.
14. “Anyone wanting to talk about the election has to participate in a Hamilton style cabinet debate. No one except for the Hamilton fans can pull off a rap. So I think we’ll be ok.” — Amy Napier/Facebook.
15. “Listen underneath ‘who the enemy is’ to what they really want, what they are really afraid of…because that’s where there’s a lot more common ground than we realize.” — Zahava Griss/Facebook direct message.
17. “Do what I do:
Cousin: You’re an embarrassment to the country for how you’ve acted about losing the election!
Me: LOOK the dog is humping the cat ISN’T THAT INTERESTING?!” — Cara Siegel/Facebook.
18. “Don’t take the bait. This is going to be my mantra.” — @krista225/Twitter.
19. “No politics at family gatherings. Talk about what we’re grateful for, outside of the political arena.” — Lisbeth Pierce/Twitter.
20. “Step 1: open Scotch.” — @aplayonsarcasm/Twitter.
21. “Make sure dinner is so delicious they never stop chewing.” — Linda Salazar/Twitter.
22. “I think it’s important not to live in a bubble and an echo chamber which we often see on social media…Sometimes you just have to listen. If someone starts being irrational, throw facts and data at them. Be as dispassionate as you can.” — Jason Nellis, via phone interview.
23. “Money Jar. Anyone who mentions anything to do with politics or government has to put $ in the jar. The fines increase every time the rule is broken.” — Nicole Piazza/Facebook. (Note: Consider donating the money to a good cause!)
24. “I am using the line ‘I have my pen and paper in hand ready to write down all the great things he does for all the citizens of this country including the elderly, working/middle class folks of all religions and nationalities.'” — Sheryl Friedrichs Byrnes/Facebook.
25. “I plan to say ‘Let’s find something better to talk about it.’ As the hostess, you totally get to drive where the conversation goes. I didn’t spend all those years watching Downton Abbey and not learn about having parties.” — Courtney Widney/Facebook.
Of course, there’s not a magical Thanksgiving solution that will work for all families — every family is different.
What may work great for one family could blow up in the faces of another. And yes, many of these tips aren’t serious because humor is often the best way to cope in times like these (see “SNL’s” “Thanksgiving Miracle” sketch). Sometimes, it’s the only the thing that can bring everyone together, if only for a few minutes.
You don’t have to bridge the gap between family members with opposing views for this Thanksgiving to be a good one. It’s just about making it through without incurring too much emotional, mental, or — god forbid — physical damage.
And if that means bowing out this year, that’s OK too. There’s always next year … or four years from now.
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