The holidays are a mixed bag. On the one hand, we get much needed time to relax and veg out; on the other, we have to spend time with people we might usually avoid—relatives. Thanksgiving can be particularly bad since the main event involves talking over a meal. Arguing with Uncle Joe about other humans’ basic rights can be a real downer, so here are six tips to get you through sane and homicide-free:
- Minimize social interaction. Focus on things like the parade, the football game, helping to cook in the kitchen. Excuse yourself for a walk or play with as many pets as you can get your hands on.
- Use the buddy system. Whether it’s your sibling who’s commiserating with you or texting your bestie, plan ahead to check in and make time to vent. A well-placed phone call can diffuse an argument.
- Keep it light. When you absolutely must interact with Drunk Aunt Nancy, stick to topics like TV shows or that “adorable” shawl of hers.
- Lean on deflection and redirection. Getting asked about a significant other? If you don’t currently have one or can’t talk about them because of homophobia, deflection and redirection are key! Deflect by making a vague comment about “dating” and redirect the conversation to something else they love yapping about. This technique can work for any topic.
- Have a project or two planned. Whether it’s a good book, an assignment over break, or a personal project like knitting or drawing, you have a legitimate excuse to be on your own. This can also double as a safe topic to redirect to.
- Choose your battles! Don’t take it upon yourself (and mental health) to educate every ignorant cousin and great-uncle on all social issues. Choose one or two that you feel strongly about and come up with a game plan beforehand. If there’s no chance it will result in anything other than an argument, just don’t engage. Tell them you don’t think you’ll be able to change each other’s minds—and then bring up how gosh-darn good the stuffing is.
We hope these tips help keep you from an all-out brawl. If nothing else, let the thought of good food blot out the terrible company!
This article was originally published on November 22, 2017.