This holiday season has brought an elephant in the room that must be addressed. This year has been an election year and its new results are bound to bring some differences to the table. But while the holiday season may bring out the best in each and every one of us, politics has a funny way of bringing out the worst. Differences in opinions often lead to disagreements, animosity and contempt for the rivaling parties, and this can create a less than ideal situation for the holiday celebrations. This year — pandemic and all — we need each other more than anything. Family is an integral part of our happiness and denying ourselves of that opportunity will put a damper on how we ring in the new year. Whether you’re gathering with your immediate family or meeting with relatives via Zoom this year; here are a few tips to keep the peace around the holidays.
1. Make a Pact
This Christmas, put politics in the figurative lock box. Make it a taboo topic. Before dinner, decide to make a pact with your family: all topics are ago except anything and everything related to politics. You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. And the harsh reality is that it’s awfully difficult to keep the peace when such polarizing topics come up. The debate can go from harmless to disastrous from one minute to the next, especially if you have a family with differing opinions. And while healthy debate is essential to progress as a country — we can put it on hold for one night.
2. Keep it Healthy
If you’re going to debate about politics, keep your respect about it. Of course, this is easier said than done. I’m a passionate individual and when topics I care about arise, there’s no meeting in the middle with the opposite view. If you find yourself in a similar situation, choose to keep the debate healthy. Listen to the other’s point of view and then explain your perspective without losing your temper. By listening intently you may perhaps learn something you didn’t know before. And by rationally explaining your side, you may be able to teach someone something as well. If you are going to debate during a holiday then choose to keep it healthy for the sake of your mental health and just the general sake of the holiday cheer.
3. Agree to Disagree
Debates can go on for hours. We hash into the topic and try to peel back as many layers as we can in one sitting. But the truth is, at some point, you will get to the center and realize there’s no more left to uncover for the time being. So instead of trying to unpack everything in one night, simply agree to disagree. There’s no need to keep going. Everyone can say their piece, and just walk away with a mutual respect for difference in opinions. It’s as easy as that.
4. Respect Your Boundaries
Remember to respect your boundaries. You don’t owe anyone anything. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, or a debate or a piece of your mind. If someone is pushing you to talk about your views or refute an argument: simply explain that you are not going to engage in the conversation and walk away. Be true to that decision. To have an honest, open and respectful debate you have to feel comfortable. If you don’t feel comfortable opening up about your views, then respect your boundaries and say no.
5. Compliment the Relentless Relative
There’s always that one relative that just won’t budge. This particular relative prefers to poke the bear until it wakes. So instead of losing your cool, try to compliment them about their persistence and passion. An example, “Wow, I really admire your passion about this topic and would really enjoy discussing it at a later time.” Or try, “I love that you want to talk about this with me, but I’m not really interested in having this conversation right now.” Or try, “I really appreciate that you value my input, but I’m more invested in eating this delicious food right now. Mom can you pass the pie?” Or simply change the subject, “So I tried yoga for the first time last week.” There’s always an exit strategy. Find the right one and be done with it.
Born and raised on the island of Puerto Rico, Kaylee is a college graduate navigating the ebb and flow of this world. She loves yoga, snorkeling and falling off of paddle boards. She has too many favorite movies. And you can always find her procrastinating with a good show, a murder mystery novel or eating dates with too much peanut butter.