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A Guide to Avoiding Political Fights with Relatives During the Holidays

This year’s election has been unique in a number of ways, but one characteristic that may be most salient to you is the divisiveness of political opinion that has instigated battles between even the closest groups of friends and family. If you were with your family during Thanksgiving, perhaps you’ve already been lucky enough to get a taste of the hostility that this election has created. If you have, I feel your pain. If you haven’t, perhaps your family is too like-minded (or just too reasonable) to allow political matters to ruin what should be a lovely gathering. Either way, the tips below should help you cope if you find yourself in the trenches of political warfare during the holidays.


Avoid obvious opposition.

If you know of a specific family member that you might clash with (perhaps a cousin that posts their political opinions aggressively on Facebook, or an uncle whose vocabulary is seemingly only comprised of outdated and definitely inappropriate phrases), avoid them. This is the first line of defense in protecting your holiday. It is possible that they will seek you out because they love to argue, but don’t give them what they want. If you hear a comment coming on about ‘all those nitwits on your campus’ or ‘could a woman in office handle…’, calmly excuse yourself to flip out quietly in the bathroom. And when it comes to your grandparent with extremely ‘old-fashioned’ opinions, just ignore their antiquated comments as you would a hole in your favorite jeans.


Remain calm.

It is possible that the avoidance tactic will not work for you. After all, it is likely that your family will, at some point, gather around the table to chow down. Try your best not to be seated next to the aforementioned crazy uncle, but even if you’re successful in this, it is feasible that some political conversation will ensue no matter how hard you pray. If some of your relatives start making points that you disagree with, play it cool. Does Grandpa Jim rely on very untrustworthy sources for his political arguments? Sure. Will he listen to any opposing argument you propose? Probably not. Just take a deep breath and continue stress-eating the Christmas ham until someone brings up a different topic for discussion (like why you’re still single!).


Keep the booze to a minimum.

If you enjoy having a glass of wine or a couple of brews with your family around the holidays, go for it: just beware of overindulging. That political fight you’ve been dreading with your uncle will become way less scary when you’re a few drinks deep. As your BAC rises, so will your inhibitions, and unfortunately, your temper. A political comment from a relative that you may have otherwise been able to ignore will soon become fresh bait for your drunken self, who is just quietly waiting to make this dinner uncomfortable for all involved. You’re better off saving the shenanigans until the New Year.


If none of those work, say what you need to say.

Listen, a little debate never hurt anybody. If you genuinely think that something your relative says is misguided, then tell them! Just remember to be open to new ideas: nothing makes for a worse debate than a pair closed-minded people screaming at each other like two brick walls. I would also recommend having this debate privately rather than at the dinner table with all of your little cousins watching in fear. If you see one of them get up to go grab a bag of popcorn, you’ve gone too far. 


Remember that at the end of the day, they are still your family.

This election year has had the power to turn moms against daughters, brothers against sisters, and friends against friends. These policy issues and trade deals are important, but ask yourself if they are important enough to damage your relationship with those you love. If they’re not, then give your crazy uncle a hug before he leaves so he knows what matters most to you.


(If they are important enough to damage your relationships, then key the name of your preferred presidential candidate into your uncle’s car! Happy holidays!)


Images courtesy of: Giphy

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