It's almost time for the big meal with your friends and family. The holidays can be a joyous time filled with laughter and fun. But, things can go south very quickly when the conversation around the Thanksgiving table gets a little controversial.

Surviving Thanksgiving 2023

There are a variety of topics of conversation that should be banned by New York State law, but at the very least avoided all together. There are hundreds of things your loved ones can talk about that can be extremely interesting and fun, or boring and mundane.

If anyone has a crazy Uncle Jerry that likes to throw them back, you know how quickly a conversation can go from good to bad.

Christine Miles is the author of the book, "What Is It Costing You Not to Listen?" She is an expert on the topic and has some helpful words of advice when it comes to navigating the holiday conversations. Miles says:

We have to be aware of surroundings and be considerate of others. We can only control what we do and not what others do." You can also avoid issues by biting your tongue. She also says topics will be brought up and how do you navigate it when it comes up. Miles says, "Seek to understand and be curious and let them talk. Even if you don't agree you may learn something about it.

Here are the Top 5 Conversations to Completely Avoid at the Thanksgiving table.

#5 Weight

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash
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I don't want to seem ageist or discriminatory, but usually the older relatives tend to bring up things that people in normal society usually bite their tongue on. Older people tend to be the most honest and they usually won't hesitate to remind you that you're putting on a few extra pounds.

It was just yesterday, not even at the Thanksgiving table, an older gentleman told me I should start walking more and that I was getting a bit of a gut. It was an unsolicited remark. Keep the conversation light and positive - and not use it as a podium  for you to food shame someone.

This holiday literally exists for people to gorge themselves to the point of falling asleep. No matter how well meaning you are, avoid the topic of weight all together.

#4 Marriage and Children

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Photo by Fé Ngô on Unsplash
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If there are young couples in the family and their parents are getting the itch for grandchildren, there can tend to be unsolicited pressure that comes around the Turkey table.

While the buns may be baking in the oven, mom or dad may be pushing that young couple to get things going and have a bun of their own. Usually, before the ring is on the finger and the question popped.

We all get it, you want babies back in your life to spoil but give it time! Diapers aren't cheap.

#3 Why Don't You Get a Job?

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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There are some people in every family that are literally down on their luck, but some that have just got real comfortable taking up that third or fourth bedroom at mom and dad's house.

Yes, there are several jobs available in Central New York. While it is wrong for some people to get comfortable with their free-loading ways, save those conversations for literally any other time. Nothing can sour the sauce quicker than those uncomfortable conversations and again, unsolicited advice.

#2 Religion

Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash
Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash
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This is a biggie!

While many say a blessing or pre-dinner prayer, there is a lot of contention that can arise from getting into this topic too deep. One of the biggest issues facing the nation, really the world, is the Israeli-Hamas war.

I guess the one exception to this topic of conversation (and the #1 topic to avoid) is if you know for sure everyone is on the same page.

While healthy debate is encouraged, there is nothing worth ruining the Thanksgiving dinner over. One of the things to look most forward to is dessert. If things get nasty at dinner, you can forget Grandma's Pecan or Pumpkin Pie.

#1 Politics

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash
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Even more dangerous than religion is the discussion of politics. Think of all the sharp utensils on and around the Thanksgiving table. Nothing gets people more angry than opposing political views. We've come to a point in our society where people can't even agree to disagree anymore.

Much like the topic of religion, it's acceptable to talk politics only if you all agree, but opposition can cause controversy. It is unhealthy to live in an echo chamber and we should all welcome a difference in opinion, but certainly not if it's going to ruin the biggest dinner of the year.

The Takeaway

The lesson in all of this is to simply keep it civil.

Hopefully, the people you share the traditional feast with are people you actually WANT to be with. If not, look for topics of conversation that are pleasant and be cautious of trigger words and phrases that can lead you down those dark paths.

Another aspect of the Thanksgiving meal that can escalate things are those festive cocktails!

This is supposed to be a time of great joy. Don't let something stupid ruin it.

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