Survival of The Fittest: How To Make It Through This Holiday Season

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Real Simple

It’s that time of year again: back-to-back family gatherings. Between Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year, and other holidays, family gatherings can get pretty tense, to say the least. It’s not hard to find yourself in the middle of a political argument that you wanted no part of. What should you do? Fear not! This is how to navigate your way through family arguments this holiday season.

Grace Mulroy, Freelancer

It’s that time of year again: back-to-back family gatherings. Between Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year, and other holidays, family gatherings can get pretty tense, to say the least. It’s not hard to find yourself in the middle of a political argument that you wanted no part of. 

What should you do? Fear not! This is how to navigate your way through family arguments this holiday season. 

Walk Away or Ignore 

As cliché as it sounds, if you have the option, walking away or ignoring the familial noise is a fantastic alternative. If you simply walk away or ignore redundant arguments, people cannot do much about it. 

As remarkable as this method is, walking away and ignoring people is often considered rude, and can be interpreted as such. This is a risky option. However, if you can somehow manage to pull it off, this course of action nearly always succeeds.

Stay Calm

If you can’t walk away or ignore the inevitable, your best bet is to stay as calm as humanly possible. If you’re anything like me, this may be hard. People are going to be screaming, yelling, sometimes even threatening. But it’s your job to keep calm and carry on. 

If you can’t walk away or ignore the inevitable, your best bet is to stay as calm as humanly possible. If you’re anything like me, this may be hard. People are going to be screaming, yelling, sometimes even threatening. But it’s your job to keep calm and carry on. (Martha Stewart)

What’s more is that, when you’re calm, you won’t say anything you regret. Canadian educator Laurence J. Peter once said, “Speak when you’re angry, and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.” When you are enraged, you’re not thinking straight; you spew out words in the heat of the moment. You’re probably not even fully aware of what you are saying. 

It’s imperative that you stay calm. Look your perpetrator in the eyes, take a breath, and then speak your mind in a calm, cool, and collected manner.

Try to Change the Subject or Don’t Engage 

When you’re forced to talk politics, try to change the subject or, better yet, don’t even engage. As hard as that sounds, your partisan family members probably do this all the time. Keep a sharp focus on the food in front of you, and the conversation will live its natural life before your eyes. Now, you don’t have to discuss things that make you uncomfortable.

Keep a Sense of Humor 

Many times, your family will say things just to see how you will react. Try not to get offended. Instead, make a joke out of the situation. If the fighting becomes tense, instead of yelling, try a nice Odyssey quote, such as “Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, stop this warful strife, or Jove will be angry with you.” 

If the fighting and tension at the dinner table hasn’t quite cooled down yet, you now know what to do. You know you could walk away, ignore, stay calm, change the subject, don’t engage, and keep a sense of humor. ”

— Grace Mulroy

Imagine your snobby step-cousin says, “This turkey is so dry, I’m nearly gagging.” Instead of pouring your glass of water over their head, you could instead say the following: “Of course, Scrooge. Does anyone at the table know the Heimlich maneuver, just in case?” Keeping a sense of humor will avoid huge arguments at the table. 

If the fighting and tension at the dinner table hasn’t quite cooled down yet, you now know what to do. You know you could walk away, ignore, stay calm, change the subject, don’t engage, and keep a sense of humor. 

Now you can avoid any and all arguments you don’t want to be a part of. Use this skill wisely. I wish you luck.