This Thanksgiving I am flying to Texas to spend the holidays with my family. My conservative, evangelical Christian family. The last time I spent Thanksgiving with my family there was talk about what a great president GW is and my grandma cried because my cousin hadn’t been baptised yet. I am very liberal and I try not to talk about religion with any of my family members because I don’t share their views. (My dad got very upset over that whole 10 Commandments in the courthouse thing several years ago because he felt that if Christianity was good enough for our founding fathers it should be good enough for the rest of the nation. Where is a vomiting smilie when you need one?)
This year will be a special treat though. You see, this year they have insisted that I bring my new boyfriend to meet them! My incredibly liberal boyfriend who just so happens to be Jewish. They actually bought him a plane ticket so that he can come and meet the family. I am very glad that they want to meet him because, except for the whole politics and religion thing, we tend to get along very well. We don’t scream or fight or anything like that until someone mentions one of the two big conversational land mines. This year has been a difficult one because of the election. The last 3 times I have talked to my father the conversation has turned into me defending myself against his political attacks even after I have told him I really don’t want to talk about the election. I swear, if I hear him say, “I like Obama. He is a really smart guy, but…” one more time I will find a way to stab him through the phone.
We will be staying with my parents for 4 days and, though we have lots of activities planned during that time, there will be much conversation and being so close to the election I can only imagine that things will be steered that way at least once or twice. And as a double plus bonus because it is so close to Christmas I am sure there will be at least one mention of, “Jesus is the reason for the season” or something similar.
I have told my parents he is Jewish. They know he and I are both pretty liberal. I am hoping that they will have discussed this with the rest of the family and that people will find other things to talk about. I have told him not to bring up politics or religion when talking to them either. I also told him not to bring up sex as a conversation topic but that is for totally different reasons. I can’t think of much else except what I have already done, which is warn them all that if they want a pleasant family experience to please avoid said topics.
However, when these things inevitably come up what is the best way to change the topic or stop the conversation before someone is offended? I figure I can only fake choking on turkey* or something like that once so I have to have at least a couple of other conflict avoidance techniques to use. I don’t want to have my boyfriend think negatively of my family and I don’t want my family to think negatively of him either. What do you do with your family to keep the peace?
*I don’t actually plan to do this but I am not above it should it become necessary.