The problem: I’m 26 and seriously considering skipping my family’s Thanksgiving dinner this year. My boyfriend and I voted for one presidential candidate, while my entire family voted for the other.
Low road: What? Skip Thanksgiving when you could have a fabulous food fight with stuffing and cranberries?
High road: I understand the temptation to be a no-show. This election has been stressful on everybody, and the reverberations continue.
But I’d encourage you to rethink your decision.
This is your kin, for better or worse. If you bow out of this rich family-centric gathering, what will you do at Christmas? The next birthday party? The opportunity to practice sharing space respectfully will get more awkward the longer you stay away. I say, go forth galvanized by the Boy Scout motto: “Be Prepared.”
Keep your visit shorter this year. Come on the late side, leave on the early side. At dinner, jump in with questions about neutral topics, such as upcoming vacations or college plans. Deflect political talk with compliments about the perfectly cooked turkey, the buttery mashed potatoes, the decadent sweet potato pie. Use humor: “There was an election?” If things get too hot, excuse yourself and take a breather in the bathroom. While you’re in there, try to channel one genuinely warm memory or attribute about each person at that table.
I know this is hard work. But relationships are hard work. Any family member worth his artisanal sea salt will be thankful for how hard you are trying.
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