November 22, 2006

Stress Management For The Holidays

Last year, on the day before Thanksgiving, I posted some advice for those folks who have to face a holiday feast among the politically diverse. What follows is a reprint of that post (with a post-election update):

The Elephant In The Room
November 23, 2005

Or "Being Surrounded By Donkeys On Thanksgiving".

Many of us who are Conservatives and/or Republicans and live in "Blue States" will be going to visit relatives tomorrow. And many of us will come into contact with relatives who are Liberals and/or Democrats openly hostile to President Bush, the war or the GOP in general. Fortunately for me, this isn't a huge problem that I've had to deal with. When my family gets together we all know where we stand and we all realize it's pointless to "get into it".

But there are many folks out there who are looking at the prospect of being perhaps the odd man (or woman) out when the emotionally-charged topic of current events comes up during the gathering. Throw liquor into the equation and you have the potential for a real mess.

My advice for those that find themselves in the all-alone or outnumbered category (on both sides of the political spectrum): do NOT engage. I know it can be frustrating and I know it's difficult to leave statements hanging out there when you know you can refute them.

But do NOT engage.

It's like the movie "Road House" when Patrick Swayze is instructing all the other bouncers to "be nice" to the bar patrons no matter how loud, rude, obnoxious or aggressive they may be. He tells them not to take it personally. One of the guys asks Swayze if being called a c***sucker isn't personal. He says "No. It's two nouns combined to elicit a prescribed response".

And when a close relative goes off on a particular issue that you disagree with, it's not personal either. It's someone who is frustrated or angry trying to elicit a perscribed response. They are venting. Don't feed into it.

Let it go. Do NOT engage.

But shouldn't a person defend their beliefs? Sure, but guess what? Thanksgiving dinner isn't the time or place for it. Remember what the day is for. Be thankful that you are are able to gather with your relatives (even the ones that piss you off). Be thankful for your health. Be mindful of the things in your life that are most important.

And remember, no matter what, do NOT engage.

And be nice. Happy Thanksgiving!

UPDATE: 11/22/06
Now, as irony would have it, the landscape has changed. The Democrats will have their chance to crow and the Republicans can be the critics and the naysayers (and perhaps do a little venting).

The same rules apply, however. It would be tempting to declare that the country is now screwed and headed for disaster. It might feel good to rail about Speaker-to-be Pelosi or Majority Leader-elect Reid. But where does it get you, really? It just comes across as sour grapes and makes you look petty - much the same way that the Left seems when they launch into their anti-Bush rants.

Who needs it?

Thanksgiving should be a time to connect to our loved ones, not put up barriers. So, again, I offer this counsel: maintain your composure, smile and - most of all - be nice.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by: Gary at 09:45 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
Post contains 572 words, total size 3 kb.

1 I'm fortunate this year to be going to my father's, where we all agree on politics. Most other years aren't too bad either, since one stepbrother and his wife are really the only ones who are staunch liberals...everyone else is either a conservative or somewhere in the middle.

Posted by: Pam at November 22, 2006 09:55 AM (E1H09)

2 My "family" of 5 is 3-2 Republican-Democrat, so my brother and his girlfriend are always in the minority. Unfortunately (should I say that???), this year my (late) father's cousin, her husband and their daughter are coming to MY house for dinner, and they are S-T-A-U-N-C-H Dems. We will be outnumbered 5-3. Hopefully they will have taste and refrain from rubbing it in... Nah, I doubt it. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Posted by: Georgia Girl at November 22, 2006 10:32 AM (ZMwFa)

3 I am VERY fortunate. My boss is a Republican (an Orthodox Jewish one), my sister is a Republican, my entire family on both sides are Republicans. Some are more conservative than others but the bottom line is that even though we are mostly in agreement, we don't really discuss it! I grew up in the "olden days" (born in 1942) when it was considered really bad manners to discuss sex, religion or politics at the dinner table! I think it was a great rule then and an even greater rule now!

Posted by: Gayle Miller at November 22, 2006 10:46 AM (fa58m)

4 I think this covers it, via Instapundit: http://throwingthings.blogspot.com/2006_11_19_throwingthings_archive.html#116420683293405772 Pre-Meal Thanksgiving Safety Demonstration Welcome to this Thanksgiving meal, with non-stop service from passive aggression to outright yelling. This afternoon's meal will last approximately two hours and 14 minutes. At this time, please direct your attention to the head of the table for the pre-meal safety demonstration. Emergency exits are located at the door into the kitchen and through the living room into the front hall. Please take a moment to locate the exit nearest you....

Posted by: Sandy P at November 22, 2006 11:53 AM (P7TI9)

5 I should have read this before I sat down to the table and there was Liberal Democrat sitting across from me. I was shushed by my in-laws, which I hate, but I didn't engage. Yes, for once I kept my yapper shut. :wink:

Posted by: GroovyVic at November 28, 2006 06:49 AM (+1Z1S)

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