How to Survive Thanksgiving with Politically Opposed Relatives

Did the recent election do a number on your holiday plans? Dreading sharing a table and house with relatives who have strong–and differing–opinions about politics? You’re not alone.

Thanksgiving turkey on a platter with red and blue place setting to show political divide.

According to a recent article in The New York Times, “Political Divides Split Relationships—And Thanksgiving, Too” by Sabrina Tavernise and Katharine Q. Seelye, many American families have taken a political  hit and are shifting traditions to avoid those fraught encounters.

I’m here to suggest some easy adaptions and a few accessories that will have voters who bleed blue and red–and everything in between–happily coexisting (well, at least tolerantly co-habitating) throughout the upcoming holiday.

6 Ways to Keep Your Family From Fighting at Thanksgiving

Substitute Screens

Thanksgiving turkey on a platter with red and blue place setting to show political divide.The devil’s work happens on a cell phone, IPad, or other social media-checking platform, not to mention televised news shows. Ban those electronic screens for the duration of the family gathering. Now, for any certified screen addicts, hand out a pocket Etch A Sketch. Relatives will have a small screen to stare at; those knobs’ll keep fingers occupied. While it’s true that hateful messages and false news stories could be created and shared, I guarantee the results will take forever to produce–and be unintelligible.

Require Purple

Thanksgiving turkey on a platter with red and blue place setting to show political divide.Political wear can really spark a battle. Skip the in-your-face-messaging by informing family of a new holiday color theme—purple. This mixing of red and blue sends a message of peaceful harmony. According to color psychology, purple blends the “wisdom” of blue with the “heart” of red to stimulate meditation, simultaneously keeping us grounded and calm while inspiring enlightenment and fantasy. Plus, I’m pretty sure you can’t find an inflammatory political T-shirt in purple.

Fund Some Friends

Thanksgiving turkey on a platter with red and blue place setting to show political divide.Do some good with those fighting words. Select a charity that speaks to your family’s traditions (come on; you know better than to pick a politically focused group). Maybe it’s a nonprofit that helps animals, funds musicians, or supports a team, school, or place; take a page from Chicago Cubs fans who donated goats via Heifer International to remove “the curse.” Decorate a jar and set some rules; when people talks politics, they pay. Include a few funny nickel and dime fines to get kids involved. At the end of the get-together, your family will donate whatever’s in the jar to that charity.

Beat It Out

Thanksgiving turkey on a platter with red and blue place setting to show political divide.Some relatives just can’t let it go, so provide a safe place for anger management. Literally. Rope off an area in the yard; hang a heavy bag and provide gloves for punching or lay out a few medicine balls to slam. Got siblings ready to throw down? Put them into sumo suits or Buddy Bounce Outdoor Play Balls and let ’em loose. (Side note: if you allow family betting, see Fund Some Friends for an entertaining combo option.) Got a small space? You can’t go wrong with the classic table-top game Rock ‘em Sock’em Robots, conveniently color coded for political maximization.

Hold A New Election

Thanksgiving turkey on a platter with red and blue place setting to show political divide.Redirect thoughts and reinforce America’s democratic process with your own vote. Ask each attending individual over 18 years of age to bring a pie (yes, that’s lots of pie—just hang with me here). Hold your own election for “Piesident”—everybody samples each pie; each adult gets a secret ballot; ban campaigning within 10 feet of the table; underage kids are in charge of tallying and reporting results. Host decides whether to opt for popular vote or devise an electoral college. Warning: Voting for Piesident can have harmful side effects. Complications such as hurt feelings and family rifts have occurred when choosing a Piesident. Do not use voting for Piesident if your family is highly competitive or ragingly hormonal. As always, ask your therapist if additional voting is right for you.

Eat Your Feelings

Thanksgiving turkey on a platter with red and blue place setting to show political divide.Revisit manners. Remind all that there’s “no talking with your mouth full” and then keep guests at the feed trough for hours. Thanksgiving is really about the food…

…and ultimately, your family will all wind up in a food coma, passed out and silent, on the sofa.

Best of luck, and happy Thanksgiving!

Published by Leah Nyfeler

I’m a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I’ve come to learn it. In addition to my blog “Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life” at www.leahruns100.com, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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