How To Survive The Holidays With Your Family Post-Election

Thanksgiving and the election: How to survive a dinner heavy on politics

This is the way it’s supposed to go: Every four years there’s a presidential election, someone wins the election, if you are on the side that wins, then life’s great.

If you are on the side that doesn’t win, you’re upset for a day or so, then you have a dental appointment or the dog eats a sock, and life goes on. By a couple of weeks later, it’s that slightly gnawing thing that you remember just as you wake up.

By Thanksgiving, the air should be cleared. Except, of course, this year when the Earth decided to spin backwards.

If social media is any indication, it looks like Thanksgiving has been dragged into this mess.

The intense emotions sparked by election the 2016 presidential election have not abated, nor does it look like they may any time soon. There are some reports on social media and in some media outlets that people are actually being uninvited from Thanksgiving celebrations because of their views on the presidential election or who they vote for or didn’t vote for. Here’s some examples:

There are some who supported Hillary Clinton who have been uninvited from holiday festivities, but they are not tweeting as much, it seems.

Just guessing on the voting choice on this one.

No guessing required here.

With Thanksgiving just days away, here are a few tips to help keep the calm at the dinner table.

1. First, the elephant (or donkey, depending) in the room. Do not, repeat, do not talk politics. Really, what is left to be said? For one day, or just for several hours, don’t bring it up, don’t add to the conversation if someone else does. Imagine for the day, you are in the “what, there was an election?” zone. (Re: Nick Saban.) offered this tip from Eric Herman, managing director at Kivvit: practice small talk – sports is a good alternative. Or, Herman suggests, go for a neutral subject like "Who was the better Darren on 'Bewitched'?"   

2. From, try this approach – maintain control. “A primary requirement for any fight is to maintain control. You do not have permission to be childish, abusive or immature. If you have legitimate feelings, you are entitled to give a reasonable voice to those feelings in a constructive way … “

3. When that doesn’t work, a Wall Street Journal story suggest you practice “divine listening.” “This means no interrupting. No talking over the other person. No obsessing about what you’re going to say when the other person’s mouth stops moving.”  

4. Dr. Susan David, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School and author of “Emotional Agility,” suggested in the Wall Street Journal article you practice an “if-then” scenario. The article suggests you, “Coach yourself on how you might respond in a calm way if a certain topic comes up.” When that fails, one strategy could be Strategies might include “politely excusing yourself to help in the kitchen if you need a break.”

5. Robb Willer, professor of Sociology and Psychology at Stanford University, offers another take on it: Run toward the fire. Willer explained to Iowa Public Radio the concept “feels wrong. It feels like the opposite of your instinct to engage, to not avoid politically differently minded family members. To avoid political subtext entirely, it may seem like that’s the right thing to do, but I actually think that this could be the beginning of bringing the country back together. We can use family to get there.”  

If all else fails, remember the sage words of former NFL star and current “Good Morning America” host Michael Strahan, “That's one of the great things about Thanksgiving: Football's on! Or, take advice from “Saturday Night Live” and go to Target.

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