It’s nearly time for football and buffalo wing dip (yes, that’s a thing), but before you can enjoy killing your liver on an old couch with your nearest and dearest, it’s important to plan for Thanksgiving success. Lots of places will tell you how best to “deal with” or “navigate” or even “win” Thanksgiving with your family members, but they’re really leaving something out:
If you pre-select the issue you want your family to argue about, you can come out ahead of the game and not have to apologize to a crying aunt on the phone at a later date.
The battle you engage in at the dinner table can be one of your choosing. Selecting the correct news story with which to enter the argumentative fray can help ensure a smoother Thanksgiving because you can plan your strategy and watch out for pitfalls.
Here are some of the best stories in the news to get into it with your family:
Story: Donald Trump is leading the GOP nomination by being super, cartoonish super villain levels racist
Why it’s advantageous: You will likely have some support on this one because aside from his racism, Donald Trump is objectively a terrible human who does not treat people well. Even some Republican aunts may not like how he has done his ex-wives dirty, or how he married a “trophy wife” his third time around, so you may have some keen allies if you bring this one up.
Why it’s a minefield: You will have to explain racism to a lot of people at the table, and it’s possible your more racist uncles will then want to move the conversation to your sexuality. (However, if you’re gay, add this to a reason why it’s advantageous, because someone doubling down on racism may not want to look like a homophobe in front of family)
Your tactic: “Hey, maybe Donald Trump should stick to casinos and golf courses… am I right?”
Story: The attacks in Paris are being used as an excuse to bomb Syria off the map
Why it’s advantageous: At this point, a lot of people are weary of going to war, and you may have some vets at your table. This can help you illustrate the point that war has a real human cost and shouldn’t be entered into lightly.
Why it’s a minefield: You could have zero veterans or active members at your table, and instead a bunch of dudes who like hunting and think their militia will one day overthrow the government. In these cases, they will be strongly in favor of that same government bombing others into submission, because irony isn’t the strongest suit for this type of person. There’s also a wild card about how your family might feel about France in a post 9/11 world.
Your tactic: “So, those Paris attackers were all French, I read…”
Story: Politicians eager to please the conservative base are touting Nazi-era tactics to “secure America’s Borders” from refugees, who they equate with terrorists
Why it’s advantageous: If you have older people at dinner, you can dazzle them with your World War II knowledge, and use them to help get your point home that refugees need our help, period.
BONUS ADVANTAGE: You can also pull out your knowledge of Jewish history and tout the reason Israel exists is because of centuries of Jewish refugee displacement. Conservatives love Israel!
Why it’s a minefield: The same people who don’t think any gun regulation is necessary despite thousands of gun deaths a year are the ones who think a person’s home country automatically determines whether they are a terrorist.
Your tactic: “I think I read something about how ignoring history was bad…”
Story: Apparently one of the wives on TLC’s Sister Wives had an online cat fishing affair with a man who may have been a woman/friend of the family.
Why it’s advantageous: You can actually completely derail your dinner if you have enough women present who watch TLC. Apparently this is a huge scandal and a lot of people have different opinions on it. The fans can duke it out, and the men who normally would be talking about how their “Indian friend at work doesn’t think that joke is racist” will be eager to make fun of the women discussing this show.
Why it’s a minefield: You are about to take your PhD in TLC family reality dramas, which, based on recent history means you may be subpoenaed at any time.
Your tactic: Hey, did you hear that story about that sister wife who got catfished? (Scan the room for aunts wearing hand-crafted sweat shirts)
Thanksgiving isn’t just about genocide or crimes against sweet potatoes. It’s also about adequately preparing yourself to do battle with your family. With a little prep, and the correct choice of story, you can set yourself up for the right kind of fight and enjoy your cornbread in relative peace.