One week stands between us and Thanksgiving. Ideally, that means visiting home, eating more food than we should and enjoying a nice break before the panic of finals sets in. But we all know that one relative who just can’t help bringing up politics, so what if your turkey feast is interrupted with political ideology wars?
With the recent midterm elections, the White House banning Jim Acosta, Donald Trump’s pass on the World War I memorial and more, there’s a lot to discuss besides just, “Yeah, school is fine. Pass the yams.” There’s no reason to pretend the whole family is oblivious to politics this Thanksgiving. We hear about it daily, and most of us probably have at least a soft opinion. The thing to remember is everyone truly has a right to their own opinion, and we can’t aspire to change their minds in the span of one dinner.
For some, our family’s political beliefs may align directly with our own. For others, politics may be taboo. Then there are those whose families love to argue, debate the war on media or give their take on Melania’s fashion choices. Maybe your family is politically mixed, where some support Trump and others hate him. In that case, we need to know where to draw the line between being polite to our elders, while also making our opinions heard.
As Thomas Jefferson said, “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”
My advice in any situation where beliefs are shared and vary is to let someone speak their mind first and then give your take. If you attack their opinions, they will never try to understand yours. As humans, we like to be right, but sometimes it’s not about winning an argument; it’s about taking perspective. Be respectful of the ideas people have from the start, but also expect and demand that same respect yourself.
Not all families are easy. What about your racist or homophobic cousin that opposes everything you believe? First of all, consider why your family invites this person to break bread in the first place. Is it because the majority of your family accepts this behavior? Maybe you should address these concerns with your immediate family members. Maybe try to engage these problematic individuals in a more private conversation about why they feel that way and why you don’t. Sometimes it’s easier to talk individually rather than turn it into a show for the family.
That said, if spending time with family over the holiday is going to be too much to handle, try a Friendsgiving. Ask a bunch of friends to each cook a dish and celebrate this season of thankfulness together in support of one another. At the end of the day, it’s about being thankful for the positive things in our lives and being able to spend it with loved ones, whether that means your crazy family or your crazy friends.