How to handle politics during the holidays

With politics as a hot topic of conversation especially this election year, holiday get-togethers can get easily heated.

The holidays should be a time of thankfulness and spending time with loved ones.

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The holidays should be a time of thankfulness and spending time with loved ones.

The upcoming holiday season for most people includes visions of  giving gifts, making memories with friends, eating good food, and spending time with extended family. Seeing your grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins can definitely be the highlight of the season, but one thing that can cause stress is when conversations turn to politics or other potentially uncomfortable subjects.

During such a difficult and divisive year like 2020, conversations between family members can become heated, especially when they are from different generations or have different political or religious beliefs. The last thing you want during the holidays is tension with your family, so the following strategies can help you overcome this potential problem.

The first piece of advice would be to keep cool and quiet when necessary. Try not to react when someone says something you disagree with. It’s important to recognize that some people like to debate just for the sake of debating, and reacting to them just makes them want to debate more. 

“When my cousins talk about politics, they say things that annoy me, but then I realize they are just trying to get me to react, so it’s better to ignore it,” junior Hunter Bassett said.  

Another way to avoid conflict is to learn to change the conversation. When the situation gets heated, try bringing up something positive, like recalling a favorite family holiday memory or sharing a funny personal story. Getting people to connect through a shared memory or laugh at something funny is a good way to take the tension out of a situation. 

My grandpa is really good at changing the subject when conversations get awkward. He will bring up something funny that happened to him and then everybody is laughing and (they) forget what they were fighting about.”

— Bennett Jones

“My grandpa is really good at changing the subject when conversations get awkward,” junior Bennett Jones said. “He will bring up something funny that happened to him and then everybody is laughing and (they) forget what they were fighting about.”  

Keeping family members engaged in activities is another strategy that can help avoid awkward conversations. Being organized and prepared with activities planned out ahead of time is a good way to keep conversations upbeat and happy.

“My aunt always plans family games at the holidays to keep everyone talking and having fun,” freshman Lily Tanner said. “We play bingo, charades, and even have little cards with topics on the dinner table to talk about.” 

Lastly, remember that these people are your family. Yes, they can be annoying and you might not agree with everything they say, but they are important people in your life and you don’t want disagreements to damage your relationships. 

“Being together with my cousins and grandparents is my favorite part of the holidays,” Jones said. “It would be sad to miss out on those memories just because people can’t get along.” 

Remember that the holidays will end, and even if they drive you crazy, you will miss your relatives when they’re gone. By remembering to remain calm, change the subject when needed, and plan engaging activities, you can be sure not to just survive the upcoming holiday family get-togethers, but you will probably even enjoy them too.

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