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While the whole social/gastronomic experiment unfolds, one topic invariably pops up and transforms the day from “Well, this is annoying, but at least there’s pie” to “Oh God, I have to get out of here before I stab cousin Melvin with the wishbone.” That topic, of course, is politics.
It has never been a good subject to float during family gatherings. But in the age of former president and overachieving criminal defendant Donald Trump, it has become more explosive than your drunk uncle adding “just a bit more oil” to the turkey fryer.
From Donald Trump to congressional chaos, it's hard to avoid politics
Tragically, politics are front-and-center in our national conversation, with a presidential election approaching and the U.S. Congress mirroring that Thanksgiving someone served Red Bull at the kids table.
So how do we avoid the topic that should be voted “Most Likely To Bring A Violent End To Your Holiday”?
It’s simple. Just follow these perfectly reasonable steps I’ve developed through years of volcanically irritating Thanksgivings:
NO MAGA ALLOWED, or something along those lines
If you don’t like Donald Trump and hope he is sentenced to live under a bridge with a particularly ill-tempered troll named Gnarlfart the Gaseous, simply post a “prohibited” sign on your front door that shows the word “MAGA” with a large red slash through it.
If you do like Trump, and I truly hope you don’t, hang a sign that says “MAGA!” on the front door.
Either sign should effectively ward off what you would consider undesirable relatives. I can say with 100% certainty I would never, not ever in a million years, enter a home with a “MAGA!” sign on it, no matter how much free food was behind the door. And if a Trump supporter wouldn’t set foot in a home with the red-slash no-MAGA sign, then … YAY! Enjoy your dinner out and we’ll eat in peace.
If I’m being honest, that step alone should do the trick. But since there’s always a chance someone won’t see the sign or won’t believe it’s sincere, it’s good to have some other tools in your toolbox. Here are a few more:
If mee-maw says 'Hunter Biden' at Thanksgiving, run!
Keep your ears peeled for red-flag words and be prepared to create a diversion. For example, if you hear a grandparent say the words “rigged election” or “COVID hoax” or “Biden crime family,” you should immediately set the tablecloth on fire. By the time it’s put out and everyone has settled down, the toxic subject will hopefully be forgotten and everyone can eat their sweet potatoes in peace.
Find the Libertarian everybody hates
One way to keep Thanksgiving tolerable is to invite what I call an ELR, or “emergency libertarian relative.” While technically nobody wants to hear anything from a libertarian at any point in time, ever, their presence can be unifying, in that both MAGA and non-MAGA relatives will find them insufferable. Nothing brings people together quite like a shared enemy. The ideal approach is to keep your ELR in a soundproof, human-size glass container and then, if needed, break the glass.
Carefully plan your escape route – you can never be too prepared
Prior to the big day, carefully study the first floor of your home both inside and out. In the event you hear a relative say the words “Well, actually, Trump did more for this country than any other president” or “Joe Biden’s age concerns me,” you want to know ahead of time which window is the best for you to jump through. Consider proximity to where you’re standing and what you will be landing on as your hurl yourself away from the conversation and through the window glass or screen. Any window-leaping outcome will be better than getting pulled into the conversation you’re fleeing, but preparedness can make for better decision-making.
You can always call in sick for Thanksgiving
The last, and possibly best, step you can take is this: Tell everyone you either have COVID-19, have been mauled by a bear or have died. Then just stay home with your immediate family. This approach provides 100% protection from uninvited political conversations and allows you to stay in your pajamas and just watch football with people you actually like.
Come to think of it, just use that last step. You can thank me later.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Want to avoid politics at Thanksgiving? Here's an escape route