Ah, Thanksgiving. It’s the American holiday best known for two things: eating in excess and engaging in familial rancor.
But this year, you can avoid getting into a heated political debate with your drunk uncle or making your mom cry about your marital status and the fact that you will never give her grandkids with some practical, tactical tips based loosely on the United States Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability.
This four-pronged approach is designed to bolster the fragile state of domestic holiday bliss.
Step One: Prevention
The best way to pursue a peaceful Thanksgiving is to avoid conflict before it erupts. You can do that by establishing support capabilities in the early part of the day. Offer to help your mother in kitchen or you father with the yardwork. Developing a warning system is key. If things look like they’re about to fall off the rails, change the subject of conversation or insist that everyone do shots as a distraction. You may also help to avoid fraught political discussions by playing football on TV instead of the news. A little athletic rivalry is certainly better than debating the merits of the American welfare system.
Step Two: Stabilization
Should any ongoing conflicts be unresolved, encourage tripartite discussions. As a neutral party, you can help to mend the wounds of holidays’ past by encouraging the finding of a middle ground and cheersing to peace with copious amounts of alcohol. If you, however, are one of the warring members, you may simply agree to remain in a stalemate because it is the holidays and there’s no need to fight about longstanding conflicts right now.
Step Three: Partnerships
Where you are able, promote burden-sharing. Form alliances with everyone. Do you hate cleaning? Offer to peel potatoes and sear the stuffing if your sister will load the dishwasher later. Thanksgiving is an extremely busy holiday for all those participating in the preparation of the meal. Involving all members of the family to participate in some measure of the work — with the ultimate goal of getting drunk, overindulging on turkey, and passing out in a tryptophan coma — bodes well for long-term peacemaking goals.
Step Four: Management
In this last step, it is crucial to consider that the next round of holidays are just around the corner and that what you do on Thanksgiving can impact how the remainder of the season will go. You’ll want to make a serious investment in coalition-building, gift-financing, and emotional output to encourage long-term stability. Find common ground with your siblings, no matter how annoying they are. Figure out what your mother wants for Christmas and tell your dad so he doesn’t get her another useless household appliance. Consider the desired outcomes for you next holiday and build the infrastructure for them to fall into place.
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digital Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.