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5 Tips to Survive a Political Thanksgiving

Most of the people I’ve talked to have varying political viewpoints in their families. Following this divisive election, politics are sure to come up at the dinner table (sigh). Here are some tips for getting yourself through any political confrontation over the family holiday.

1. Focus on the Food

Let’s be honest, many people’s favorite thing about Thanksgiving is the food. If someone tries to engage you in a political discussion and you’re not feeling it, point to your mouth and make some garbled noises. It says to your relative, “It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you, but my mouth is full”, even if what you’re thinking is, I want to enjoy this glorious food, not listen to your political rants.

2. The Kid Escape 

This probably only works if you have younger cousins. I lucked out here; I’m the oldest of the cousins on both sides of my family. I LOVE my cousins, but it’s an extra perk to use them as an excuse to vacate a “grown-up” situation. At 21, it’s perfectly acceptable for me to be part of the adult group, but since I grew up hanging out with my cousins, it’s also totally acceptable for me to escape to the basement (or the kid table).

3. Play Dumb 

Instead of saying “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you, what was that?” turn the conversation to something else before it has a chance to begin. One of the most foolproof ways to do this is to wait a few seconds and then compliment your relative. Some easy go-tos are complimenting the dish they made, or complimenting their outfit. Another way to play dumb is to ask them questions, or respond to the questions they would ask you eventually (you know the staples). Ask them about their job, a hobby of theirs you know about, what they’ve been up to since you saw them last, etc. If you want to be even safer and avoid them talking for long stretches of time, tell them what’s going on with you. You know what they would say anyway: How’s school? What are you going for again? What year are you? Take it easy on the drinking (wink wink)! …and so on.

4. Take a Walk

If you’re getting really frustrated, it can help to take a walk. This gets you out of the situation, and exercise has been shown to release endorphins (chemicals in your brain that, when released, make you feel better).

5. Stand Up for Your View

If you’re okay with confrontation (or aren’t, but in some circumstances find it necessary), explain your viewpoint. Be careful to approach it as rationally and factually as you can. In this political climate it’s unlikely someone’s mind will be changed, but they might not even listen to an emotionally charged argument.

No matter which tips you decide to use, or not, I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving!

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