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Safe Table Talk for the Holiday Season

Conversing Peacefully with Your Family at Thanksgiving

It’s been quite a year, folks. Hell, it’s been quite a week. In the last few days alone, our exalted leader tweeted a tweeny tantrum about the height and weight of a cranky and well-armed foreign leader. (Dear Diary, Rocketman hurt my feelings today, but I put a nuke in his locker, so we’ll see who’s laughing after fourth period…)

That’s only the very latest jaw-dropping moment, though, in a stunning string of horrors since we last sat down to Thanksgiving with our families. There was the Election That Enlighted Us All About Our Racist, Terrified Neighbors. That was followed by the daily matinees from the White House circus, including incompetent appointments to crucial government posts. There were hurricanes, floods, and fires. Domestic and foreign terrorism. Revelations of high-profile sexual harassment and abuse. And all of these things, miraculously, were politically charged.

Sure, we remember that nearly three million more people voted for the other presidential candidate than the one who currently holds office — and we’ve all seen that the latter’s approval rating is the lowest of any president since modern polling began. We’ve heard his own appointee call him a moron and his own party members decry him as “disgraceful” and “childish.”

Yet there are still some people who support him. And deny science. And think black football players should stop calling attention to systemic racism and just be “grateful.” And based on the way this year has been going — reminding us at every turn that when bad stuff can happen, it will — odds are you’re going to be shoveling pie with one of those people next week.

Here’s a guide to topics you’ll want to avoid over the holidays to help you keep peace within your family just until you’ve digested enough to drive home. I’ve also provided examples of statements you don’t want to make, as well as some handy, utterly innocuous phrases you can use to defuse the situation if these subjects are unfortunately broached — say, by a “snowflake,” “libtard” nephew.

Off-the-table topic: Confederate statues

Unwise utterance: Aunt Fran, I see you finally pulled up the shag carpet in the parlor. I mean, it was odious, but I can’t say I condone this sort of revisionist history. WHERE DOES IT END?!

Replace with: Place looks nice.

Off-the-table topic: Climate change

Unwise utterance: If anyone’s asking, I’d like a rowboat for Christmas. Thanks to unprecedented atmospheric events, I’m fixing to have beachfront property by August.

Replace with: Nice weather we’re having.

Off-the-table topic: NFL boycott

Unwise utterance: No, can’t stay for the Redskins game. As I get older, I find the combination of racist mascots, misguided patriotism, and the promise of CTE triggers my acid reflux.

Replace with: How ’bout them Knicks?

Off-the-table topic: Gun control

Unwise utterance: While we’re saying grace, can we throw in a couple thoughts ’n’ prayers that Congress will pull its head out of the NRA’s buttstock?

Replace with: Amen.

Off-the-table topic: Election meddling

Unwise utterance: Mom, you said you’d never serve canned cranberry sauce. I’m kind of shocked. Did Putin hack into the menu? What’s going on here??

Replace with: Please pass the yams.

Off-the-table topic: Legalization of marijuana

Unwise utterance: You’re all going to love the pecan pie I made. It’s infused with cannabis butter. Has anyone tried Banana Kush? Relaxing, but you stay chatty and social. For example, I’m high right now.

Replace with: … How’s your glaucoma, Grandma?

Happy Thanksgiving — and good luck!

Published inColumns
My columns are collected in three lovely books, which make a SPLENDID gift for wives, friends, book clubs, hostesses, and anyone who likes to laugh!
Keep Your Skirt On
Wife on the Edge
Broad Assumptions
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