Will politics ruin Christmas this year?
PUBLISHED: 11:00 21 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:35 21 December 2019
After the most divisive election in recent history, families are steeling themselves for a politically charged Christmas. How can we avoid a festive fall out on the big day?
Ah, Christmas. It's the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be ripe for family arguments. Kitchen mishaps, board game bust-ups and free flowing booze can create the perfect storm, bringing tensions bubbling to the surface and threatening to spoil the big day for all involved. Festive feuds are as traditional as Christmas pudding in many households across the UK, and this year, Britons are bracing themselves for a particularly prickly family gathering.
According to relationships charity Relate, one in five UK adults are anticipating political disputes during the holiday, with the recent election results casting something of a shadow over the upcoming festivities. On the twelfth day of Christmas, the powers that be gifted us with another trip to the ballot box, and it has been hard to get into the festive spirit when there are much more serious matters to think about - the future of the NHS, funding public services and Brexit, to name a few.
All elections are divisive, but this time around, things got bitter and personal. Parties across the spectrum sought to appeal to people's emotions and they certainly succeeded. Of course, it's only natural for people to have differing opinions on such polarising politics, but when family members are at odds with each other, it can make for a tense Christmas lunch.
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So, how do we avoid tensions over turkey this December 25th? The obvious answer is to shun all mention of politics and to banish Brexit from the dinner table. But with the election still so fresh in our minds, that's easier said than done. After a tipple or two, lunchtime conversation might inevitably end up turning political; in which case, there are some steps you can take to keep the discussions from descending into all-out verbal warfare.
Tactic one: De-escalate and distract. If conversation starts to get a bit heated, or seems to be heading in a confrontational direction, it's a good idea to shut the argument down before things turn nasty. Politics can be a deeply personal topic, making it hard to stay level-headed when challenged on your views or confronted with opposing opinions. Avoid being pulled into an intense slanging match by deliberately moving the conversation on. Address the fact that you don't see eye to eye and suggest that the topic might not be the right one for the dinner table. By simply suggesting: "it's clear that we have different opinions, and we all might enjoy talking about something a little more festive", you might be able to succeed in diffusing the tension before the name-calling and point-scoring begins.
Tactic two: Engage with caution. If it seems that the topic is unavoidable - perhaps a relative is particularly keen to dissect the election results as you enter the post-lunch lull - then at least be prepared to defend your corner with the facts. Arm yourself with legitimate information and avoid making sweeping generalisations or parroting political posts that have circulated on social media. If politics is something that you care passionately about, you might find it hard to bite your tongue, but your relatives could be more inclined to consider your point of view if you have the facts to back it up. Even if you deliver the most stirring speech of the day, however, you might have to accept that your words are falling on deaf ears. People tend to double down on their beliefs when they are challenged on them, so pick your battles wisely - you can't win them all!
Tactic three: If all else fails, whack out the Pictionary and stick on Ratatouille. If there's one thing that might bridge the Brexit divide, it's a tiny chef rat. Merry Christmas, everyone!