Staying civil over Thanksgiving dinner

Staying civil over Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving is a lot of things. It’s a time to catch up on sleep, eat good food for a change and an opportunity to spend time with family members you haven’t seen in a while. However, when you put together several generations of people right after a controversial presidential election and stuff them full of turkey and liquid courage, that’s a recipe for familial fighting.

It’s true you don’t get to choose your family. Unfortunately, a lot of times, the worst behavior is brought out when you’re around those you’re closest to. It’s all about how you handle and respond to the conversations at the dinner table.

In preparation for the upcoming season, we have a couple of recommendations for you to make it through the holiday break without getting into a big fight with your Aunt Betty or your Grandpa Jack.

Most family members you see on Thanksgiving are people that you don’t see on a regular basis, meaning there’s a lot you probably have to catch up on. Instead of centering the conversation around the dinner table on politics and the recent election results, try something a little less controversial. Topics like what’s happening to you in your classes or a funny picture you saw on Facebook are always safe conversations to have that (hopefully) shouldn’t start any arguments.

If you can’t seem to think of anything to talk about in regards to your life, just ask your family members a lot of questions about their life. Do they have any travel plans for winter, what did they think about that new movie in theaters and how is their dog Bingo doing?

Also, remember the point of Thanksgiving. Uncle John may not agree with your views on gun laws, but remember that he still came to your high school graduation and sends you a Christmas card every year. It’s important to focus on civility, especially given the current social climate in the U.S.. Give thanks to the people who love you unconditionally and enjoy their company until the next time you have to see them, at Thanksgiving in 2017.

Though we want to recommend you focus on the opportunity to be with your family, we also don’t want you to hide your beliefs. If an issue is brought up that you don’t agree with, make sure that you make your point in a composed and respectful way. It’s OK to disagree and stick up for your views, but changing minds happens through constructive debate, not a competition to see who can shout the loudest over the classical music CD your parents put on in the background.

Keeping the peace during Thanksgiving is, of course, preferred. However, under no circumstances is it acceptable for your family to make you feel attacked or threatened because of your lifestyle or identity. If you believe this could be an issue facing you this holiday season, there are resources available through the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center and the university counseling center. Thanksgiving break should be a time for relaxation and gratitude, not stress and fighting.