‘You’re Wrong, Uncle Bob!’: When Politics and Thanksgiving Collide

Politics and poultry go hand and hand.

As the red wine starts flowing this Thanksgiving, inevitably so will the politics chatter, especially with the memory of election season still fresh in everyone’s mind. Whether your political views are in keeping with your family’s or your Election Day ballot earned you black sheep-status, here are some items to help you navigate the treacherous waters of political table talk:

Political Leftovers: The New York Times’ Social Q’s correspondent, Philip Galanes, has a good idea for steering Thanksgiving conversation away from petty politics. Citing the bipartisanship that held together in the aftermath of the Hurricane Sandy, Galanes suggests encouraging family and friends to participate in some sort of charity effort–volunteering at a food bank, for example– ahead of dinner. Then, once everyone is seated at the table, invite your guests to swap stories of how they gave back; it will set a lighter, friendlier tone for the dinner ahead.

Politifact’s Guide to Thanksgiving Dinner: There’s one in every family: the crazy aunt, uncle, or distant cousin who forwards those nutty chain emails perpetuating political conspiracies on both sides. If any such email comes up over turkey, keep cool and refer to this handy guide by Politifact, the Tampa Bay Times’ fact-checking project. Politifact grouped a few of these political conspiracies into broader categories, and ranked claims (in ready-to-go dinner table language nonetheless) from “Half True” to “Pants on Fire” on their veracity scale. Getting tired of the news? This is exactly how much of our time politics should take up. 

Etiquette 101: Talking politics over Thanksgiving dinner: Proper etiquette may seem like an art lost to the ages, but the advice offered by actual etiquette expert Anna Post in this CNN story is a helpful reminder of how to manage dinner conversation and what to say when you feel your discomfort rising. One tip from Post: “Identify the people who are your triggers, and be proactive in your conversation choices: Set the agenda, and the tone.” Maybe try discussing the vocabulary of politics–this is where the term “whistleblower” came from. 

Photo credit: © Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock

Originally Published in Reader's Digest