For the most pinko among us, a trip back home on Thanksgiving means answering a lot of uncomfortable questions and sitting through a lot of really awful discussions on politics. Even if you’re not shacking up with your boyfriend or converting to Buddhism, your family is sure to bring their always-trenchant opinions to the dinner table.
If your Thanksgiving is anything like mine, the politics at the dinner table tend to be right of Rush Limbaugh and Joseph McCarthy. I learned years ago that it just makes more sense to take a Xanax and curate the political conversation for future jokes, but sometimes it’s completely irresistible to just let dippy Aunt Kathleen get away with saying that Obama is a space robot hell-bent on the destruction of white Christians.
I love my people, but their politics make me want to jab butter knives into both of my ears. As such, I have come up with a variety of coping mechanisms throughout the years. This year, instead of letting your family’s Republican values drive you to a therapist, fight back. Your eyes probably won’t survive another year of epic rolling, and your blood pressure could really use a break.
1. Go extreme
If you’re really sick of their GOP talking points bullshit, go extreme. Tell them about that time you dropped acid with your friends at Bonnaroo, especially if you were standing next to some random Kennedy relative. Express your deep love for gay go-go bars, and share photos of your last experience at the drag show. Unless your family is from Berkeley or Brooklyn, they’ll be too shocked to tell everyone about that chain letter where Obama is forcing everyone to implant a tracking chip. Of course, don’t take this tip so far as to bring someone “extreme” to your Thanksgiving dinner – no one deserves to be a target of your family’s abuse but you.
2. Be a dick
Do what you’ve always wanted to do, and shoot down every ridiculous thing that is shouted out while the turkey is being carved. If your mom has too much wine and starts in on immigration, be sure to remind her of the 5 migrant workers on her payroll. When Granny gets a little riled up over gay marriage, point out that she’s got a few in her own family tree. You might not make any friends at the party, but the uncomfortable silences will be so worth it.
3. Argue until your face falls off
If you’re particularly self-righteous and masochistic, study up on Affordable Care Act statistics and gun policy advancements over the last 20 years. Explain thoroughly that Obama isn’t planning to take your guns, and that he won’t actually sacrifice your grandmother in a death panel. This strategy is most successful when you’re young and naive, as it will give you a deep explanation of confirmation bias. Cheaper than college.
4. Announce a really important life decision
Even if you really aren’t about to get engaged, a perfectly timed proposal can stop a “well I think abortion is murder!” right in its tracks. Your unsuspecting fiance will be totally cool with being a part of your plan, and the look of surprise will be completely genuine. Stay away from pregnancy, though – no one wants their fake-choice to reproduce to become a shining example of why women shouldn’t have control over their bodies.
5. Strategic ignoring
Trying to ignore your family is the typical Thanksgiving survival strategy, but it doesn’t come without risk. At the end of the day, one too many Glenn Beck talking points could drive you to start smoking cigarettes again. Scale up the ignoring this year, and bring your iPad to the table and watch reruns of Rachel Maddow, with or without headphones. Loudly agree with Maddow’s always salient points, and start watching YouTube videos of Obama speeches. Any time someone asks you what you’re doing, obnoxiously remind them of how “up on politics” you like to be.
If you don’t enlist any of these coping mechanisms, it’s your own fault when your head explodes. Before making the trip back to your childhood home, take an extra yoga class, drink a kombucha, and go to a drum circle to energize your yuppie soul before taking on the Tea Party’s core constituency.