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Mental Health

4 Ways This Season To Deal With Family Members You Don’t Agree With

No matter where I am in life, Bing Crosby’s voice assuring me that he’ll be home for Christmas evokes a powerful desire to visit home and decorate the two-decade-old artificial Christmas tree with the same decorations my parents bought somewhere around the time that low-rise jeans were popular. But as the song ends and the crackle fades, the reality of our divided country fills my mind with anxieties about going home. How should I face people who voted against my rights? How do I sit calmly next to someone who voted for the guy who told a white supremacist group to stand by? It’s extremely difficult, but here are four ways that I intend on dealing with that this holiday season. 

Laura Mueller

  • Walk away.

If Marty McFly taught us anything, it’s best to just walk away. Simply walk away. You didn’t come home to listen to false claims your uncle found on Twitter. You don’t need to sit through that conversation, and better yet, you don’t need to engage in that conversation. If you want the experience of talking to a wall, go do just that. It’s a much better alternative and you’ll probably get the same result. 

  • Have a side conversation. 

Pull that relative to the side and let them know that you don’t want to discuss certain topics. You can educate them another time if they’re even in the right headspace to be educated by you. If they try to start a conflict, at least you were the more mature one. You’re not the one drunk off eggnog trying to ruin dinner with conspiracy theories. 

  • Shift the conversation to the more holiday-appropriate topics. 

There’s a time and a place for everything. The kind of conversation that this relative is trying to provoke has no place at the dinner table, and if this relative is provoking you, a good move might be to actively shift the conversation to something more appropriate.

Mikkel Bergmann; Unsplash

  • Make turkey mating calls until they walk away. 

If all else fails, try to emit the sounds of a hen calling for a gobbler. These noises will confuse the person with who you’re conversing to the point that they might just walk away for the sake of walking away. A plain yelp should do the trick, but I’ve found that an assembly call is the easiest to replicate with human vocal cords. Uncle Bob will soon weigh the pros and cons of having a conversation with you, and after some difficult deliberation, will move on. This, of course, would be for your amusement and will put your relative in your shoes, having to talk to someone who’s acting ridiculous.

It’s not lost on me that I am fortunate enough to have a home to return to and for that, I am extremely grateful. The holiday season can be a stressful time of year, especially this year as we all continue to struggle with this pandemic. Make sure that you take the necessary steps to take care of yourself and maintain a healthy mindset. Happy holidays, and maybe try not to give too many eye-rolls to Aunt Karen at dinner. It’s not worth your time.   

Anna Dao

U Mass Amherst '23

Anna Dao is a junior at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst, majoring in Legal Studies. She hopes to use writing as a platform for comedic relief, raise awareness for mental health, and short rants on citrus fruits. Follow her on Instagram @anna.dao and Twitter at @annadao19
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