How to win a Thanksgiving argument

A family  gathered at an undisclosed location for Thanksgiving Dinner in 2009. (Flickr).

For some people, the phrase “Thanksgiving dinner” evokes thoughts of succulent turkey, steaming apple pie and the chance to finally catch up with distant family members. For others, it’s synonymous with one thing: the dreaded Thanksgiving argument.

When large groups of people come together, especially families, various political beliefs collide. Left-wing meets right-wing, and often a clash is inevitable—especially now, as the 2016 presidential primaries heat up.

Football small talk and Black Friday strategizing can only last for so long at the dinner table before some stray-yet-controversial remark is made. It’s usually these small comments that devolve into the most ferocious Thanksgiving debates.

One solution to this problematic situation is to pretend to agree with whatever your troublemaking family member says. Mindlessly nod and act like what Uncle Bob is saying doesn’t actually make your jaw clench and temples throb violently.

However, some people simply cannot do this. They feel that they must vanquish foolish Uncle Bob and set an example for any other argumentative family members that might try to take them on.

If you’re one of these people, then one solution for winning your Thanksgiving argument is to start researching beforehand. Try to get a list of all potential attendees and create some sort of chart detailing the political leanings, interests and favorite dinner table topics of these family members.

Once this is done, it’ll be easy for you to determine potential Thanksgiving troublemakers. The next step is to identify what controversial subjects they may bring up and start building your counterarguments.

Your handy chart will also help you pinpoint allies. You can contact these like-minded people and begin strategizing beforehand.

You may want to collect various infographics and informative articles as well.  Notecards with important points written on them will be helpful, too. You can present these to your opponent at a moment’s notice—waving the pieces of paper in their face will shock and disarm them. They will be so flabbergasted that they won’t even be able to form a coherent rebuttal.

Another strategy is to make sure that your side of the family is the one hosting Thanksgiving. Your family members will be less likely to challenge you when they know you’re the one serving them food.

If these efforts somehow fail and you end up on the losing side of the argument, you should remember it isn’t the end of the world. There will always be another argument next Thanksgiving, and you can release your anger and disappointment by going out and taking advantage of all the best Black Friday sales.

In reality, it’s probably best to respectfully refuse to engage in any possible arguments. By saving your family the pain of sitting through an awkward and heated debate, you make them the real winners.


Helen Stec is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at helen.stec@uconn.edu.