Don’t Punch Your Uncle: A Heat Street Guide to Surviving Holiday Political Debates

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By Emily Zanotti | 8:55 am, November 22, 2016

More than a third of Americans are dreading Thanksgiving dinner this year, and not just because turkey is a severely overrated meat, football is boring, or the meal interrupts their Black Friday shopping.

They’re afraid their relatives, fresh off a controversial Presidential election, are going to want to talk politics. Forty-five percent of Americans foresee political talk over the stuffing and gravy, and more than half say it’s at least a little stressful to discuss deporting illegal immigrants in between passing the brussels sprouts.

Here are a few simple, Heat Street tips to help you survive a few hours with your family, whether political talk is on the menu or not.

1. Bag the bourbon. Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t actually have to get sauced at Thanksgiving dinner. And if you’re anything like us, chances are, this is your approach to handling tax policy while tipsy.


Save the booze for after dinner. Or stop at a bar on the way home.

2. Invite random people to serve as human shields. Is your friend alone for Thanksgiving? Does your local barfly need a place to crash? Bringing strangers to the table might make everyone just uncomfortable enough to keep their opinions to themselves.

3. Declare a truce ahead of time. Practice your diplomatic skills by brokering a cease-fire ahead of the meal. There are still plenty of controversial topics to take the place of the Trump transition team. Try your hands at an amateur diagnosis of Kanye West’s psychiatric issues, determine once and for all whether leggings are pants, or rank versions of “Santa Baby” most tolerable to most likely to regret not taking a vow of celibacy.


4. Play a “conversation game.” Drag out Catchphrase or Scattergories and force your family to play between bites. Bonus! You may never be invited to a family holiday ever again.

5. Take one for the teamIf your family agrees on anything, its that you just can’t get your life together properly. Why can’t you meet a nice girl? Aren’t you too old for a one-bedroom apartment? How long is it supposed to take one person to earn a degree anyway? Tune into your meal and let your family plan out your retirement fund. If you make a startling revelation, you could occupy them through Christmas.


If all else fails, and your family insists on mourning the end of pantsuits or declaring the taco truck phenomenon thing of the past, tune yourself into this calming GIF, used by Tumblr’s social justice warriors to cope with a world full of microagressions and Patriarchy.


And remember that you can always escape. Clean the kitchen. Pretend to answer your work email, or suddenly develop a keen interest in fighting other Wal-Mart shoppers for $200 televisions. They can’t hold you forever.