How to survive Christmas Meals with Family

The holidays are some of the most familial times of the year. The distant relatives flying in from across the country, playing with your siblings’ children and catching up with those most important in your life — all of it makes for a warm gathering for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

But there are also the relatives that are — shall we say — less than tolerable. Be it a the latest hot-button topic or a disagreement on politics, there’s always that one relative who has to stir the pot. So just how do you deal?

Here are three ways you can curve the conversation away from controversial topics to something more pleasant.

Be prepared for naggy relatives

Have an uncle looking to rag on you for being on the other side of the political aisle? Or maybe an aunt who just can’t approve of your breastfeeding habits? Knowing who’s going to be at your Thanksgiving dinner should ease some of your worries. Think of possible things these people can say and potential responses you would give in return. Plan out how you would react when asked a certain question and how you don’t want to react. Yelling or arguing back (although tempting) should be avoided. Instead, try some positive self-talk. For example, imagine what you would say to yourself if you got through a family argument unscathed: “You did it,” or “Great job! That took a lot of willpower!”

Talk about movies or food instead

Benign topics such as the weather, movies, sports and careers are all safe bets. Try something like, “What do you think of the mashed potatoes?” It can keep a conversation focused on one non-controversial topic.

Redirect the conversation

When all else fails and your family can’t seem to get news out of their heads, then it’s time for a new strategy. Sometimes a direct, “I’d rather not talk about politics,” and a switch to another topic is the best way to go. If uncomfortable talk still persists, leave the table or strike up a conversation with someone else.

Remember, no matter who you’re surrounded by, you’re at a family gathering! The shared experience of seeing family should be first and foremost. Chances are, your family will eventually realize this too. And if all else fails, you can always fake a food coma on the couch (although your aunts might not approve of it!). Happy holidays!

What do you talk about at your holiday gatherings? Leave a comment below!

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