Let’s be real for a minute: This last year has been rough. I’m not even talking about your PCS or that never-ending deployment. It’s not even the fact that your child has caught literally. Every. Single. Illness. Known. To. Man.
It’s been a tough 2017, politically and ideologically. No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, you have probably been on a roller coaster of emotions. You’ve likely felt betrayed, dismayed, gutted, shocked, repulsed, disgusted, unsure, and upset at some point over the last 12 months.
I know I have.
Wherever you are spending the holiday season, you’ll almost certainly be in close quarters with someone who feels the opposite of you politically. This is going to be true whether you are celebrating with military friends or with your families.
Use these tips to avoid dinner table disasters during the holiday season:
Act like there are no politics. Push it from your mind completely. Will this be hard to do? Yes. Facebook and Twitter are constantly filled with political posts. I can’t open my feeds without seeing a meme or article about some crisis or sharing another doomsday message. What if you just didn’t talk about it? Instead of bringing up the latest political crisis, maybe just don’t. Talk about literally anything else.
Aunt Mary got you cornered to talk to you about D.C. happenings? Don’t engage. Find something else that she is interested in. Puppies? Babies? Knitting? Chippendale dancers? The possibilities are endless!
Whip out your phone and share your latest pictures of: Whatever. Talk about how much fun you had doing: Literally anything else. Bring up that one time when your cousin did that embarrassing thing.
If all else fails, find an escape route. Gee, your friend really looks like he could use help with: Something that requires your complete attention immediately. Then go. Move. Get out of the way.
Unplug, unwind, turn off your endless alerts. If you don’t see it, it will be like it’s not actually happening. The best thing I did all year was travel internationally. I never saw Facebook unless I was on the spotty hotel wifi. And I was happy.
Wherever you are politically, chances are good that something on the news will upset you. Someone will post a meme or article that makes you angry. Don’t get upset! Just turn it off. You are supposed to be spending quality time with your friends and family anyway.
I mean with board games and activities. Bust out Settlers of Catan, the endless game that keeps you fully occupied in an alternate reality for hours. Try to buy every property in Monopoly and finally beat your sister. (I suggest skipping Cards Against Humanity. Some elements of that game might touch a nerve and lead directly to political discussion.)
Not into board games? Do anything else! Go outside for a walk or play a game of touch football. Unwrap and play with all those presents. Get into video games, read a book, find a local craft fair, head to the movies. Seriously, the options are endless!
Agree to disagree
My own family runs the political gamut. We have everyone from strong conservatives to intense liberals. . . and everything in between. I vehemently disagree with several members of my extended family about something political.
Here’s the thing: I love them all. And they love me. We just disagree politically, so we have agreed to disagree. I know how they feel and that they will never be convinced by my arguments to the contrary. They understand and acknowledge the same about me. Instead of fighting about it or trying to sway them, we just don’t talk about it. I choose to relocate myself when the talk turns too blue or red for my liking. I don’t engage when they bring up their politics.
However, I do know that as soon as I mention how I’m doing with my business or the kids’ new milestones, they are 100 percent there. And it will shared everywhere within just a few hours.
You’ve read all my tips and you still can’t see a way to escape your holiday dinner unscathed. You’re afraid it might come to blows over the entree, and not because it’s overcooked.
When you are pretty certain that you cannot safely navigate a social setting without intense arguments, it could be time to consider skipping it. At the end of the day, these are your close family and friends. I’m sure you would possibly like to keep them in your life long-term.
Skipping your holiday dinner ensures that you and the people you love will not have to engage about that political topic over pie. You won’t say something you regret. No one will need to be disinherited or deleted from your contacts.
Instead of going, send a nice flower arrangement or edible gift. Express your regret at missing dinner without bringing politics into it if possible. Pick another reason you can’t make it. Try: Distance, cost, children, conflicting schedules, work, travel plans, or illness. Just make sure your excuse is legit.
By Meg Flanagan