how to have a happy, (figuratively) toxin-free holiday season

Thanksgiving marks the start of the winter holidays and the dread associated with having to deal with relatives and family friends you rather wouldn’t...

carving thanksgiving turkey

The winter holidays are a double edged sword. The good part is that you often get time off to see family you haven’t seen in a while because you couldn’t. The bad part is that you often get time off to see family you haven’t seen in a while because you really didn’t want to. Maybe they’re passionate anti-vaxers, or woo faithful who live and die by the word of Deepak Chopra and Goop, or climate change denialists, or conspiracy theorists, or just good, old-fashioned bigots. Whatever the case may be, there may well be someone toxic at the dinner table out to ruin what should, in theory, be a pleasant meal and time to catch up with friends and family.

So, in an effort to make Thanksgiving and the rest of your winter holidays at least somewhat more bearable to those afflicted with such blights, here’s a humble suggestion. Resist the urge to be polite and don’t invite your least pleasant and most disruptive friends and family members. It’s as simple as that. Yes, you’re close, I understand that. But their proximity to you by genetics or family politics does not grant them the license to ruin the holidays for you and everyone else. Their freedom to speak their minds does not include a captive audience that must sit quietly and listen to their tirades.

And this is what the entitled, wooey, racist, conspiracy-minded klaxons that dominate social and news media today refuse to understand. Yes, it would be a bad idea to censor their speech or deny them the right to believe as they do. But when exercising their ability to voice an incendiary opinion they’re not immune from its consequences. We must allow them to speak their minds without fear of legal prosecution, but we don’t have to like them, listen to them, pay them to spew hate, woo, or dangerous conspiracies in public, or invite them to our dinner tables. The freedom of association they’re often so quick to bring up goes both ways.

One of the consequences for the relatives and family friends who used the previous two or more Thanksgivings as a chance to yell “Trump that bitch, build that wall!” or its equivalent, or lecture you about how you shouldn’t vaccinate your kids and pets could easily be not getting invited into your house to do the same thing yet again. If they can’t respect that you’re trying to a have a less stressful holiday season with fewer outbursts and conflicts, why include them? Why do the equivalent of making a nice meal and knowingly adding an ingredient you know will give it an extremely long lasting, unpleasant aftertaste?

Maybe you should take the advice of those who go on and on about the need to purge yourself of toxins and thinking positively by clearing your invite list and table of toxic people this holiday season. Over the past few years, we’ve seen that an alarming number of our family members and friends seem not only easily fall prey to confirmation bias, but revel in succumbing to their urge to do so. We’ve also seem far too many of them publicly fail even the simplest and most straightforward tests of basic human decency while proudly broadcasting those failures on social media like badges of honor. So when composing your invite list for the holidays, you should take that into account.

# politics // holidays / mental health / pseudoscience


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