Perusing these practical tips will get you through Thanksgiving smoothly when things get political or personal.
The irony of Thanksgiving is that many of us are more grateful that it’s over than we are during the holiday itself, and it’s all because of adversarial friends and family members. You know the ones, they’re the relatives who confront you about the few topics you don’t want to discuss.
They can probably sense you don’t want to engage; they can smell the apprehension wafting off you in plumes of unarticulated social anxiety, but they don’t care. They’re coming in to connect. You watch them approach with that deceptively kind smile, those darting or possibly normal eyes... Holidays don’t have to be this way. Let me help you arrive at Thanksgiving this year with more poise than a peacock and with more deescalating power than an escalator going down.
I’m going to divide up the divisive topics for the sake of simplicity and so I can make that little joke (huhuh). They probably could have been organized differently, but between the two of us, only I was provisionally hired at The Collegian.
Easing into things, our first topic is politics. Here’s the breakdown:
- Race: Simply say, “Did you know racecar spelled backward is still racecar, you see it’s actually really fascinating…” as you literally sprint from the room. The more uncomfortable the person makes you feel, the further you have to run.
- Religion: “There are three Abrahamic religions, two of which are two of the biggest three religions in the world. Now I’ve just said three three times and two two times, but now I’ve said two once more. Anyways, can I slip you Lincoln to end this conversation?” (The trick with this one is you can give them five dollars or a penny...).
- Taxes: Taxes are like the love in your marriage. You only need to talk about it once a year on the anniversary, Tuesday, April 18.
- Elections: Play dumb, you’ve never heard of any of the candidates. Or of envelopes.
- Sex: “Sssshh, I don’t feel comfortable talking about systemic s-e-x inequality with the kids running around.”
- LGBTQ+ rights: My go to is attempting to make a joke and then realizing it might be offensive, so I just slowly garble my words until we’re standing there in silence. It effectively prevents future conversations, so that’s a win.
On to personal topics, the things we have 100% figured out:
- Romance: When they ask about your slowly withering love life, you have two options. Either divert by asking which of the Hebrew loves they are referring to (I think they’re agave, arrows, Philadelphia, and storage or close to that...) or start singing that song I also don’t remember where the lyrics are how to spell love, something like “L is for the way I licked the turkey before I carved it…”
- Job: They ask you how your job is going. You say, “Your guess is as good as mine, HAHAHA,” and hope that your agonal laughing will dissuade further interrogation.
- Plans for the future: They want to know about the plans you don’t have. You can fluidly develop plans in the moment by asking them what they think you’re doing, and then affirm every single word that leaves their mouth. “Yes, I am switching to STEM because, like you said, reading and emotion have no place in the modern era and the mature citizen.”
There you go, now you’re ready for a week (or one day if your employer believes you have little human worth) of mediation and mastication