A few years ago we decided that there needed to be some new rules at our house. We could no longer stand the whining, temper tantrums, arguments, and food throwing at our holiday gatherings.
I am not talking about the children at our table, no I am talking about the adults. Now that everyone is getting older, I can only imagine what this year is going to be like!
We are a family of highly opinionated, intelligent, news following individuals. We tend to make up our own minds on news stories and never fully align on hot topics. When the “happy” holidays role around our table tends to be less than merry.
Now of course, I am over exaggerating here. There is no longer yelling, all the time, and even when we disagree it never ruins the holidays. Completely.
If we wanted to stay a family, and keep speaking, we had to find a way to make things work over the years.
Here are the rules for the “adults” in the family so that we can actually maintain the “merriment” during the holidays.
Learn the players: Figure out who is all going to be attending the festivities. This is important to root out all of the potential blow ups in advance. If you have a son who just discovered how important climate change is to him and your grandfather thinks it is all a hoax make sure to put them at the opposite end of the table during dinner. No need for that mess to come up while the stuffing is being passed.
Set the expectation: If you are like us, you know whats going on. This is the main reason there will be strife. You know the hot topics. You know which topics are going to cause heated discussions.
There are two options here, you can either let everyone know in advance, we are not discussing X,Y, & Z. Make a chart with the topics if you have too. Or you can have a “safe word” like “Gobble!” say it and shut that shit down. *Know in advance – cannot be used as a weapon* (also) *Will create awkward moments*
Create a safe space: At our house the table is a safe space. Have all the discussions you want around the kitchen, outside playing games, or during drinks afterward. Note…drinks may be thrown. However, when we sit down at the holiday table all hot topics stop. The table is a sacred space where we all come together to celebrate family and the fact that we are together. If a topic comes up here, the host needs to be a ref, throw a flag, and call foul! GOBBLE, BITCHES, GOBBLE!
Stick to your guns: If you are not at that dinner table, I say this will all sincerity do not back down! As someone who has been told all my life to be polite…please be polite, but do NOT back down. I am teaching my girls to be strong, heard, informed women. I never want them to back down from a discussion or fight they know they are right about. Just because someone is older than you, or a man does not make them correct. So yes, a rule in our house is as long as you know what you are talking about, stick to those guns baby!
In the end, remember what is really important: Sticking to your guns! No, I’m kidding. Sort of.
Sticking to your guns, doesn’t mean that you are not family. My father and I disagree on almost everything politically. I feel like we live on two different planets half the time. But I would still do anything for him. If I’m having a bad day I call him because he is my dad and I love him.
This is true for all my family. I am still going to invite my grandfather who thinks climate change in a hoax or my grandmother who thinks women should not be in government. (Insert sigh here!) I will always invite cousins who do not understand foreign policy but still feel the right to argue it with my brothers till they are blue in the face.
Just because we have differences in our world does not mean they are things we cannot discuss. These are not topics that we should be silent about; in fact they are topic we should be discussing…loudly. This is a chance to open and change minds.
Who better to help change the minds of those who do not understand than those closest to them?
So what is one to do about these hot topics? Should you be polite and not say anything to your misinformed relative? You know they are not going to stay quiet. What is the right answer to avoid dodging turkey legs? Do you stand up for yourself and your beliefs?
The short response is…absolutely. Just play by the rules!
Are you traveling with little ones this year? Check out this older post about holiday car travel with babies. Our Thanksgiving Travel Mission.
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