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Avoid Talking Politics with the Family

So last year, the holidays fell right around the time a grand jury declined to charge Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown and the tension over holiday dinner was thick: Just when would some big terrible opinion get dropped by one of my family members about this and how quickly would it escalate from there? Then again, if Brown's death hadn't been the potential point of conversation, it it could have been any number of other things with these goofy relatives: health care, terrorism, Obama is a Satanist Muslim commie pig, you get the picture. Either way, it was my father who handled the situation best, not by shouting down the cray-cray quasi-racists with whom we share DNA who, of course, brought up Ferguson, but by swiftly announcing, "We're not going to talk about this." Then he kind of stared forward intimidatingly. It worked. We didn't talk about it and everybody kind of laughed off the tense moment and went back to eating and blabbing about bullshit. It was a good strategy. If youv'e got a Fox News-loving motormouth in the family who won't give in, I also recommended just immediately hitting the nuclear option and yelling and insulting your relatives' intelligence the moment they start talking about ISIS or whatever. That said, fellow obnoxious liberals, we're with you here, it sucks to get in a debate with, say, your cousin who slavishly reads Glenn Beck's The Blaze or whatever, but leave your glib condescension at home. Don't start the conversation yourself and don't indulge the conversation unless you're really trying to change your fam's hearts and minds, which chances are, you aren't—you're just using it as a chance to make your family feel small. Don't do that, even if they are totally wrong about this stuff. (Brandon Soderberg)

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