“But we’re Republicans. We always vote Republican,” my grandmother softly but firmly told me as we were riding in the car.
I’ll never forget her voice or her face as she said that to me over 20 years ago. We were discussing the Clinton election. I don’t remember where we were going, but I remember the conversation. It was because of her that I did not change my party affiliation until after she died.
Now here we are. I often wonder what she would think, what she would say, if she saw what we just went through. Her own mother, my great-grandmother, was a Women’s Suffragist who attended secret clubs and secret meetings. I remember the stories she told me about what she saw her mom do.
But, unfortunately she is not here, so I’ll never know. What I do know, is that the holidays are coming. FAST. And I know that I am slated to attend gatherings with friends and family members whose views are very different from mine. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s making me anxious and that I’m actually trying to think of some excuses to get out of some things. But I can’t. I have to take the high road, I have to do what is right, face my fears, step out of my comfort zone and be a role model for my child. Still, that doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable.
So, here are some tips that were sent to me in hopes that I would share them.
I love Cheers…but don’t let this be you!
Tips to make your holiday meals peaceful and enjoyable despite political differences
- If you know someone is political in your family, politely remind them before inviting or right before everyone arrives to not discuss politics or religion. Before the day of the event, send a text or email to everyone, confirming the time and say something like, “I think we’ve all had enough politics in recent months, so tomorrow will be a politics free day.”
- If you see the topic come up, change the subject. Have a list of topics ready in your head.
- Your opinions do not change people’s minds, your actions do. If you can do it without being pretentious, either you or your kids can talk about what volunteer or charity work you are doing.
- 90% of conversations with politics, religion or personal family matters will go downhill at a holiday function. Remind yourself that there is absolutely nothing to be gained by discussing this at this holiday meal.
- Do you want to be right, or do you want to have peace? That is a quote from Maya Angelou and I am thinking of it often. Even if someone brings it up, change the topic. Let go of the need to be right. You are not going to change anyone’s mind about the issues at Thanksgiving dinner. If they persist, you can say, “You know, I would love to discuss this with you further, just not on Thanksgiving/Christmas. How about we meet next week for coffee/brunch/round of golf?”
- Remember you can be the source too—don’t bring up these topics. Remind your kids to do the same.
- Have something else prepared to gather everyone’s attention. Let the kids put on a play or read a poem or short story. Use these printable discussion cards—> thanksgiving-table-discussion-cards Let the kids start it to get things going.
- There is always going to be “that one person.” You ask everyone what they are thankful for, and someone has to say something rude and obnoxious. Be polite, be firm and move on. “Oh, come on Dad, we promised that we weren’t going to discuss politics today. Mom, what are you thankful for this year?”
- Politics and alcohol do not mix. If you are serving drinks, keep the politics out of sight. Turn off the TV or keep it on football. Make sure there are no newspapers or magazines around that would spark political conversations.
- Have board games available and out and ready to go. If you have the space, set one up ahead of time. This will encourage people to do other things. Have a project for everyone to work on, whether it be planning to adopt a family or sending Christmas cards to soldiers. Have something positive for people to focus on.
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This post was written right after the 2016 election but has been updated.
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