Holiday season is in full effect, which means the time to feast is on the way. But with 2018 being what it is, it’s pretty certain that we can all expect at least one thing to pop up during our turkey dinner: President Donald Trump. I mean, he’s seeped into every aspect of life throughout 2018, from social media to our text messages, for Pete’s sake. Of course, politics is a topic you should almost always stay away from at the dinner table, but then again, who wants to revert to those typical, mundane conversations about the weather and perhaps your (non-existent) love life? Also, like, how can you not talk about all of his wild tweets? Let’s be honest: It’s practically impossible. But to avoid turning your dining room into a battlefield, here’s how to talk about Donald Trump on Thanksgiving.
For what it’s worth, discussing politics at family gatherings is likely always going to be a tough experience, especially if there are members of your family who are known to have differing views or political affiliations than you. But there’s a light in having hard conversations: Maybe they’ll distract you from a problem you’re experiencing. Maybe you’ll learn something or gain new perspective on a contentious issue you previously felt otherwise for. So, why not give it a try?
The most lighthearted thing to bring up at the holiday table is probably going to be the endless memes and tweets about Trump this year. While some people at the table might argue that it’s not funny to make fun of the president, once they see the memes about the time he had paper on his shoe in public or his awkward phone call with Mexico’s president, for example, they probably won’t be able contain their laughter. Based on how it goes, you can decide from there whether you want to coax them into more serious conversations, from his policies to his behaviors.
If you’d rather get into those serious conversations immediately, it’ll probably benefit you to go into them with an open mind and a calm state. Mental health expert Dr. Danielle Forshee tells Elite Daily by email that a big thing is to remember to speak only for yourself: “Keep your thoughts and feelings about the topic only relevant to you,” she advises. “Only speaking for yourself and not others will lessen the likelihood that others will be offended if what you say is in direct opposition.” She points out that “you cannot control others,” and you should be prepared for them to have other viewpoints.
Oh, and avoid insults. “Criticizing or degrading someone’s character as a result of having varying opinions will create drama and hurt feelings,” she says.
Personally, a strategy I like to use is open-ended questions. That way, you can easily feel out the mood of the room and where the conversation is headed. If things start to get too tense, you can quickly drop or change the subject. “So, about this potato salad!”
Of course, all this isn’t to say that if the conversation is going a place you’re uncomfortable with that you have to stay quiet. Anti-hate group organization the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has a number of tips and tricks for addressing “everyday bigotry,” including tips for dealing with family, such as bringing up shared values and appealing to family ties. Depending on the situation, you can try things like setting limits, asking for a response, and even clearly stating what’s happening (something like: “You keep telling offensive jokes even though I’ve asked you to stop.”). Dr. Forshee, for her part, suggests that if someone says something offensive, try using “a simple response such as: I can appreciate your standpoint, but we have two different opinions on the subject.”
Or, if you aren’t into discussing Trump at all at the dinner table, try warning your guests in advance that those conversations won’t be welcome. Besides, there are tons of other great topics you can discuss from all the new celebrity babies born this year to the great music releases that have dropped anyway. When you think of it like that, avoiding Trump conversations should honestly be a breeze.
No matter how it goes, you’ll still have some great food in front of you, which makes it a win-win situation either way. Enjoy!