Dreading debate about Hillary and Trump at the Thanksgiving dinner table? Here are some tips to keep your family off that topic.
Thanksgiving is around the corner, and many families in America will be facing yet another round of ignoring etiquette when it comes to politics. For too long, the political elite and media have been ignoring Emily Post’s warnings against discussing politics or religion at the dinner table, and American families have suffered for it. Unfortunately, because people are accustomed to discussing politics at family gatherings, it may be a little difficult to stop that bad habit.
First, it is important to realize why these discussions start in the first place. Yes, there are political parties and organizations that are telling people to do it, but they are counting on the competitive nature of human beings in general. People like to feel like they have won something, or at least have a chance at it. If that wasn’t the case, Publisher’s Clearing House would have gone out of business shortly after most magazines started offering digital content. So, the key to stopping political discussions at the dinner table is to offer your family something else to be competitive about.
Now that you know why people get into these arguments that disrupt the peaceful digestion of your feast, you’re ready to stop them. Redirect the debates to topics that aren’t political. If your family members aren’t severely set on their political ideals, this should be fairly easy. Debates over the menu itself might be enough to get them off track. Just make sure you avoid hurting the feelings of the cooks in the room. Start a poll on “stuffed or not stuffed,” or types of cranberry sauce. You can also start a “competition” – what is the strangest thing you’ve seen with pumpkin spice flavor or scent? Another good redirect requires a newspaper (old school) with the Black Friday ads. Start a debate over stores being open on Thanksgiving, or if there is a kids’ table, enlist their “help.” Nothing kills a political discussion quicker than a group of kids campaigning for Christmas presents they see in the Black Friday ads.
If your family is really hard core on the politics, this may require some planning, and a shopping trip. Many people bring a bottle of wine to dinner. Bring more than one. Then you can have your adult family members “vote” on the best bottle. Include the kids, too – get bottles of sparkling grape juice so they don’t feel left out. (Keep the kids happy, so they don’t sabotage your efforts – kids really can see what you’re doing there, if they pay attention!) Some family members may require bigger guns than just wine, so it might not hurt to look up some fall cocktail recipes (or shooters if they’re really difficult.) Obviously, come armed with the ingredients for more than one, so the adults can “vote” on them. (Drink responsibly, and make sure no one drives while intoxicated, of course!)
Those of you with hard core political family members who are also teetotalers? Well, here’s hoping the non-alcoholic diversions work, and good luck! No matter what, remember that it is possible to politicize Thanksgiving without discussing politics. Everything can be political, even cranberry sauce, turkey, shopping, and liquor! It just takes some patience and creativity to get your family away from talking about those spotlight seeking politicians and hot button issues.