How to Navigate the Holiday Season with Awkward Family Dynamics

With Halloween having passed and Thanksgiving just around the corner, this can be a stressful time for many young college students. If you are familiar with the process of getting into political arguments with family members and staring at your mashed potatoes with a sense of dread, I am right there with you, girl.

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, you know that it can be a beautiful time to connect with family members who may live farther away and perhaps you don’t see very often. However, when your 80-year-old great-aunt says that she doesn’t care about the environment and that she supports the fiery Cheeto in the White House, things can get pretty uncomfortable, especially if you are of the opposing view.

Sure, while there is no way to change her mind and no way to combat the tension of your grandfather reminding you that men are better than women and that vegetarianism is too hard for him to understand, there are ways to prepare yourself.

Remind yourself of the purpose of Thanksgiving, and the holiday season in general. Their words are meant to sting, so if you just ignore everything and tell them about that time you spent 14 hours recovering from a hangover maybe you can make them just uncomfortable enough to change the subject. Can you pass the brussels sprouts? Love you, Gramps.

Emotional preparation is key for any holiday. If you are emotionally ready to combat the threat of a political debate over the charcuterie board and stuffed breads, you can do anything. You can’t change their mind and they can’t change yours, so be bold and tell them that! Maybe they’ll finally see that there’s no point in bringing up heavyhearted topics this Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a time to appreciate your family. It’s a time to be thankful for the food on your table and the roof over your head. Ignore their biting remarks about sexuality and weight and swiftly turn the conversation to a lighter topic, maybe they’ll see that the dinner table is just not the place for a fiery political and emotionally draining discourse.

Good luck, you brave soldiers. I believe that you can overcome this holiday season feeling victorious and mature.