Week 2: How to not drop the f-bomb at Thanksgiving

Many of us are walking into the lion’s den on Thursday, if not before. I’ve honestly never understood the “holidays are stressful” mantra that has fed many a holiday movie/song/meme. But this year, I get it.

Let me paint the picture:

My mom died three months ago. That’s really enough, isn’t it? Yet there is more. We have the following characters playing lead and supporting roles in the multi-family mash-up that will be played out this Thursday with my family, my husband’s family, and my sister-in-law’s family.

Siblings who aren’t there (because they weren’t asked to be or chose not to be). Ex-husbands. Older people with dementia issues. Younger people with legal issues (and recent stints in an orange jumpsuit). Republicans who truly believe the recent racist incidents going on are being done by Clinton supporters to make Trump supporters look bad. Republicans who truly believe Trump was sent by God to save our country. Republicans of your usual Texas variety (read: pro-life/anti-gay). Libertarians who voted for Johnson (but who cares because we’re in Texas). Farm Democrats (which could be the name of an awesome band and describes much of my husband’s family, working folks who grew up loving FDR and demonizing Hoover). Social Democrats. And a smattering of people whose votes were a bitch-slap to their actual can’t-be-discussed life circumstances.

Love them. Wouldn’t be anywhere else on Thursday, truly. But there isn’t enough wine in this big state to help me maneuver the political and emotional minefields that will be in play.

So I’ve come up with this cheatsheet. You’re welcome.

F. Focus: If you have to talk politics, focus on key issues or those that are the most important to you. In my opinion, issues that are not key and distract from our mission at hand are the following: Melania and Barron deciding to stay in NYC until Barron finishes the semester; Hamilton; SNL; Twitter; the Electoral College. Issues that are key to our mission are these: the rights of women/immigrants/minorities, freedom of religion, the environment, freedom of the press (#makeamericacareaboutfactsagain #fakenews). Do not let the tryptophan-filled turkey take away your edge. Focus people.

U. Understand: You can’t reason with everyone. Exhibit A: the aforementioned Republican who believes Clinton supporters are committing racist acts. Exhibit B: the aforementioned Republicans who believe Trump is sent by God. These folks are off the table. I will smile at them like I do the relative with dementia to their left (or right, as the case may be).

C. Compose: Plan what you will say in several situations. Crazy Exhibit B says you can’t argue with the bible and, therefore, with Trump’s presidency. What do you say? Widowed dad makes a joke about deplorables while passing the gravy. Go! Dementia patient quotes Breitbart. What’s your plan? But wait, Libertarian nephew asks your opinion of what you think Trump will do with Obamacare. What’s your family friendly, serious issue, elevator answer … keeping in mind Crazy Exhibit B is within earshot.

K: Keep eating (there aren’t many K verbs so go with it). It’s almost always a good idea to put a bite of mashed potatoes in your mouth if things get dicey. Take a moment. Revisit F, U, and C while K keeps you in check.

My niece created the wonderful reminder below, laying out the Thanksgiving rules this year and proving two things: She’s sweeter than I am and a bit of humor is always helpful.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!



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