Does the thought of Thanksgiving make your palms sweat? Does your stomach hurt, BEFORE the meal? Maybe holiday fun translates to holiday dysfunction when it comes to your family gathering? We hear you.
So just in time for your yearly gathering of the relatives, from the left, right and center, we offer this survival guide for talking turkey and politics.
On this week’s podcast, host Andrea Seabrook takes your stories of politics and holidays past and runs them by journalist Amy Dickinson , who writes the syndicated advice column Ask Amy.
Here’s an excerpt of their conversation.
Amy: It’s very common starting around September for people to write to me already nervous about Thanksgiving and how are they going to manage these disparate points of view. And its not like “oh how silly”, it’s a real issue. We don't spend enough time together to work things out, so it all happens around the table…I actually have a number of suggestions for families to cope with the dinner. A lot of people say pass the butter and retreat to football games. If who ever is host of the dinner can be a little more intentional they can create a different sort of atmosphere at the table. One way to do this that’s worked really well in my family is with toasting people. You sort of start the meal with toast.
Andrea: Besides a toast... another thing Amy says you can do is get everyone to write down their funniest Thanksgiving memory, and then pass the stories around to read aloud...
Amy: So you have a kid reading Uncle Harvey’s memory from 1942, you know it’s a lot of fun and it engages people more in a personal way because I think a lot of families if they are political and if they are likely to engage in political arguments the goal should be to just sort of stave that off just maybe over coffee instead of over turkey and stuffing.
Andrea: Now what about people who WANT to talk politics around the turkey? Or worse, what if you’re seated next to one of them... That’s what happened to Jeff Pierce when his sister brought her fiance home to meet the family for the first time at Thanksgiving.
Jeff Pierce: I had just won a scholarship for writing an essay on the importance of unions. Instead of not bringing it up he ask, “So what do you think of unions?” Because he knew I was the only liberal in my family. He really took advantage of my uncle who is the most conservative person in my family and together they were just jumping on me and I was just sitting there trying not to get incredibly angry.
Andrea: So he’s trapped. What do you say to him?
Amy: Okay, now everyone needs to focus- this is really important. This is when you get to use children as human shields.
Andrea: I’ve been waiting for some way that was okay.
Amy: I know they come in so handy! It sound like this person did what he could to suppress his anger and I think that’s great but sometimes you can just say this is a really loaded topic for me so I’m just going to ask Billy, “How was that soccer game?”
Andrea: The thing to remember, says Amy, is that, it’s not just dinner, it’s THANKSGIVING. And with every helping could come a new tradition, a new memory, even if they are a little goofy.
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