Could Political Disagreements Spoil Your Thanksgiving Dinner?

Following a bitterly divisive and lengthy presidential campaign that left many Americans still feeling raw, there are new worries that lingering political disagreements may cause strife at families' Thanksgiving dinner tables.

"There's more tension in my household because of the election," said Carissa Ciampaglia, who happened to be taking a class on conflict mediation Thursday at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont.

Ciampaglia said she will simply avoiding the risk of bickering all together by skipping her traditional Thanksgiving and going instead to the Jay Peak Resort to enjoy its indoor water park with a friend.

"Especially around Thanksgiving, when we're supposed to be thankful and content and happy for what we do have, to get lost in argument and more vile hatred just seems pointless to me," Ciampaglia told necn.

At the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf, volunteer Jason Roe was helping feed his hungry neighbors Thursday by joining the non-profit’s effort to gather 3,500 Thanksgiving turkeys.

As for his own holiday meal, Roe said he expects to follow a personal rule.

"I figured out long ago, it's best to not talk politics at the dinner table," Roe recalled. "I know at least at my dinner table, it's going to be calm because we won't be talking about politics."

Mediator Julian Portilla, who teaches courses on conflict resolution at Champlain College, advised families to consider a moratorium on political conversation at the dinner table.

"There are better or worse times to say certain things," Portilla noted, adding that folks may want to speak up to pause a political conversation before it gets too heated and save it for a better time, like an after-dinner walk. "[Keep] the topic, at least during the eating time, when everyone's gathered around the table, to topics that are probably things in common: kids, work, sports."

Portilla said it is wise to avoid potentially charged conversations at the holiday table because guests cannot comfortably get up from the table and go somewhere else, as they may be able to if the conversation were to take place in a different setting.

Portilla also urged people to focus more on their curiosity about why a relative or friend may feel differently than they do, and to keep an open mind about why they may feel that way, rather than leap to rebuking that viewpoint.

"I think we need to be more willing to disagree openly and respectfully," Portilla said.

Ciampaglia indicated a holiday free from the risk of conflict is something she will be thankful for.

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