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This Week in Politics: How to not talk about it on Thanksgiving

In this special holiday version of 'This Week in Politics,' we spoke with etiquette experts on how to tackle political convos at the dinner table.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — This Week in Politics…as you gather around the dinner table with family and friends on Thanksgiving, be sure to tell them why you're thankful and if you can, avoid talking about politics.

It feels like a decade or two ago, that was a given. You don't talk politics at the dinner table, especially on holidays like Thanksgiving.

In 2022, it’s harder to avoid.

On one hand, it’s great — more people are in-tune politically and are interested in discussing the issues. On the other hand, people are polarized and those conversations can get heated, quickly.

So we spoke with Monica and Darian Lewis, co-owners of the Monica Lewis School of Etiquette in Houston. They are experts on how to handle this stuff with class. Their first tip is for those hosting Thanksgiving Dinner:

1. Establish ground rules early, as soon as you welcome your guests in.

“You can say, look, we are here and as much as we'd like to talk about politics, we have not seen each other in a while, so this is going to be the time we gather around, learn what's going on [with each other] and let's just have a great time,” Monica said.

Simple as that. But what if — inevitably — a couple of glasses of wine are enjoyed, and politics starts coming up?

The Lewis’ say it's good to have some other things to talk about ready to go, to help shift the conversation.

2. Have different topics ready to go to help shift the conversation.

“We call them table topics, it’s a couple generic things you can quickly grab out of your mental arsenal,” Darian explained. “Like what's the latest movie? If you were the subject of a biopic what would be the actor that would play you, you know, kind of zany off the wall in the zeitgeist topics that you can quickly throw out there to kind of bring the conversation back.”

If that doesn't work, Lewis says, try to put a lid on it quickly. Remind folks you're there to enjoy company and not talk about politics. If they want, they can pick up that conversation about who should run in 2024 at a later date.

But can we avoid getting to that point altogether?

It may be possible if, individually, we all make a concerted effort to save that stuff for another day.

3. Go into Thanksgiving with a positive, thankful mindset.

“Thanksgiving is all about being thankful — and if we go with that mentality leading in front, we would do things differently, because our behavior comes from what our thought pattern is,” Monica said. “Change your thought pattern, make sure it's positive, if only for one day and one day so that everyone can get a chance to catch up and have a good time.”

We don’t want to minimize the importance of having political discussions, but I’m sure many will be thankful if we hold off on them on Thursday — at least during dinner. 

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