Surviving Thanksgiving: A Conversation Guide

Credit: Linnaea Mallette

Thanksgiving Day approaches.

As extended families gather around the dinner table for the first time this holiday season, amid a political climate of especially heightened tensions, the potential for explosive arguments is more palpable than many of us can recall. If you’re like me, you’re experiencing some considerable anxiety around this impending, metaphorical pressure cooker.

For those of you who need help finding uncontroversial statements to make in order to keep the peace this Thanksgiving, I have compiled a list of alternatives.


Don’t say: “Wow, Aunt Cathy has another new boyfriend this year.”

Instead, say: “Wow! Who roasted this turkey? It’s delicious!”

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Don’t say: “The foundations of this holiday are genocidal and inexcusable.”

Instead, say: “I can’t wait to watch the football game!”

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Don’t say: “How much fuel does that Dodge Cummins burn, Uncle Frank?”

Instead, say: “I love the paint on your new truck, Uncle Frank! Red is my favorite color.”

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Don’t say: “SOC Eddie Gallagher committed unforgivable atrocities and should be in prison forever.”

Instead, say: “Did anyone remember to bring Cool Whip?”

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Don’t say: “Have you seen Frozen 2? It’s a queer-adjacent narrative about decolonization. It could be more confrontational in the way it addresses imperialism, but I think it’s still as good as we can expect from Disney.”

Instead, say: “Have you seen Frozen 2? The snowman has a really cute musical number, your kids will like it.”

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Don’t say: “I cannot comprehend how anyone can be at once informed regarding the facts of the ongoing impeachment proceedings and supportive of the current administration, or even lukewarm about the appropriate outcome. His own man, Gordon Sondland, who has been an outspoken supporter, testified in Congress that the president attempted to bribe the Ukrainian government by withholding military aid. Trump must not only be removed from office, but held accountable for the irrevocable harm he has caused to this nation’s sovereignty and international reputation.”

Instead, say: “Gosh, I’m really under the weather. I might have to miss Thanksgiving this year. Save me a plate if you can?”

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