A Beginners Guide to Thanksgiving With a Politically Divided Family


"Freedom From Want," by Norman Rockwell/Wikimedia Commons
"Freedom From Want," by Norman Rockwell/Wikimedia Commons

At Christmas, we’re all too distracted by twinkling lights and shiny, new gifts. On New Year’s, we’re all focused on the nationwide party. By Valentine’s Day, we’re all too depressed that the holidays are over to fight too much. But, on Thanksgiving, there’s nothing but the same-old turkey dinner and a roomful of relatives still mulling over election day wounds. It’s the Thunderdome of American holidays.

On November 22, the United States will celebrate one of the most vicious political campaigns in the nation’s history by forcing members of the rival party to sit down together and pretend to enjoy a meal like “civilized” people. Of course, putting a bunch of Trump-haters in the same room as a cabal Nancy Pelosi-advocates doesn’t exactly sound like a recipe for a Rockwellian holiday.

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Politics Is Already Killing Thanksgiving

In 2016, fresh off a Trump victory, a study was conducted based on the location information of more than 10 million smartphones. Using the pings of devices across the country, a team of researchers concluded that the divisiveness that gripped the nation in the wake of Trump’s stupid, unprecedented win had shortened the average length of the American Thanksgiving dinner.

Those people living in areas that played host to particularly contentious elections were hit especially hard. Every 1,000 political ads that hit the airwaves shaved around two-and-a-half minutes off of Thanksgiving dinner.

With just a few days to go, Thanksgiving 2018 is shaping up to be a contentious holiday the likes of which we’ve never experienced. Not to fear, because you, too, can survive the Thanksgiving 2018 holiday with nary a fresh bruise or stab wound. All you need are a few tips and the right frame of mind.

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Don’t Shy Away From the Political Gabbing

Sure, you could avoid politics. You could also avoid breathing. Or blinking.

The fact is, American politics has become an obsession among a large portion of its citizens. Believe it or not, that’s a good thing. Sure, too much politics can be toxic, but ignoring it altogether isn’t exactly how you build a nation worth living in. So, don’t shy away from a political conversation, but don’t plunge in too deeply, either. Remember, you’ll be stuck with your family long after Trump leaves office and some Democratic dill hole replaces him.

All politicians and all politics suck, so just take your political gabbing with a grain of salt. Pro tip: keeping your calm in the face of some huffy, red-faced political obsessive just infuriates them even more.

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Don’t Try to Convince Your Parents (or Whoever) That Trump Is a Moron

It won’t work.

Remember, they think the guy is at the center of a never-ending assault from a cabal of evil, leftist media conglomerates hell-bent on making Trump’s every move seem as sinister or stupid as possible. Trump’s constant onslaught against the media has effectively undermined the authority of several publications which report actual fact. In short, Trump’s followers won’t listen to you because they think YOU’RE the one being duped.

So, while you’re confidently quoting The New York Times, your family is thinking, “Yeah, there’s our kid, drinking the liberal Kool-Aid.”

Basically, shooting yourself in the foot playing the anti-Trump game, so just argue the issues, not the dickhead propelling them.

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Study Up, Kiddo

If you’re looking to wade head-on into a political battle at Thanksgiving 2018, you need to do your homework. One thing about older Republicans is that they come prepared to quote shit. They have nothing better to do than sit around watching basic cable news and listening to some talking head shout soundbites at them. Unlike us, however, they’re not screwing around on their smartphone, they’re paying attention. And they’ll use that against you.

They might be quoting lies, but they don’t know that.

So, if you want to fight the misinformation, you have to come armed with information. Start reading, buckaroos, because if you’re going to defend your political beliefs, you’ll actually have to know about your political beliefs.

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Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Buzz

Drink (or smoke) responsibly and all that jazz, but if you find yourself snowed in with the family and politics is the topic du jour, don’t rule out a few fingers of whiskey. It will turn down the noise on your Fox News parroting relatives and maybe even get you into the swing of things.

Sure, you might be shouting, but you’re not bored.

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Go See “Friends” the Night Before Thanksgiving

Time to breathe is essential, so make sure that you schedule a little bit of breathing room.

If you happen to be visiting your family in your hometown, just explain that you promised you’d see some old friends the night before. I personally like to go and see my friends John Jameson and Jim Beam at the very nearest bar to my parent’s house.

No matter what city I’m visiting, they’re always there for me.

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Prepare to Accept Defeat

So, you’re two whiskey drinks in, you’ve been studying for a week straight, and you’re in the muck, fighting to defend your political beliefs. Except that’s wrong; you’re not in a battle, you’re just disagreeing with your kooky Uncle, and you’re starting to take things personally because he’s not being won over by your shimmering brilliance.

Remember, he thinks he’s being brilliant, too, and he’s only started this conversation because he wants to bring you over to the correct way of thinking. In other words, you’re both stubborn assholes and neither one of you is going to actually “win” this argument.

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Both Sides Are Stupid

More than anything, it’s important to remember that your political convictions are dumb. You think that your relatives’ political stance is really dim-witted. That’s true, too. You’re both idiots when it comes to politics because everyone has been lulled into this incredibly useless belief that their team is totally right and the other side is totally wrong.

If you’re going into your Thanksgiving 2018 dinner operating under the assumption that you are a righteous crusader for your political beliefs, then you are a moron. Once again, you are not in a battle, you just disagree with your kooky Uncle. It’s that simple.

Just relax, take a breath, and remember that you’re not on the floor of the Senate, you’re just visiting the people who took their time to get you through high school and out their front door.

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