Everyone knows that it’s not polite to discuss politics or religion at the dinner table. Those rules, of course, go double for massive feasts such as Thanksgiving, when relatives from around the country come together to eat and judge each other. It is a holiday when grandmas insinuate to mothers that teen daughters’ skirts are too short, when years of unspoken ill will can produce mealtime fulminations that give everyone indigestion. So, to ensure that everyone has as relaxing a Thanksgiving as possible, we’ve created this handy list of 10 people and issues to avoid mentioning at all costs.
1. Nicki Minaj. Seriously, guys. Half the world thinks her debut album is a pop masterpiece, while the other half thinks it’s a total cop-out. Unless you want to start a food fight among your younger family members, leave that shit alone. Don’t believe us? Check out the comments thread on our Nicki Minaj review.
2. Sarah Palin vs. Gawker. Everyone has an opinion on Sarah Palin — including your gun-toting uncle who doesn’t understand why we have to pay taxes. But even if you don’t have any tea partiers in your clan, the reason you don’t want to talk about this is that not everyone lives their life on the internet! Weird but true: You may have middle-aged to elderly family members who don’t even know what Gawker is.
3. Bristol Palin on Dancing with the Stars. Let’s just ban the word “Palin” from the table, shall we? Need we remind you that her success on the show drove one Wisconsin man to shoot at his television? People, it took a SWAT team to disarm him.
4. Israel-Palestine. This is a classic, but it never gets old. Not only is it impossible that everyone in your family will agree on this one, but it’s also highly likely that someone will say something racist and ruin your opinion of them forever.
5. How Barack Obama’s doing. This conversation will not end well. Your Birthers will come out of the woodwork! Your establishment Democrats will equivocate so hard they choke on their turkey! You will find out about your family’s super-secret tinfoil hat crowd! And the recent college grad who campaigned for Obama but is now unemployed? He will be in tears.
6. TSA guidelines. Considering that everyone’s traveling for Thanksgiving, someone is going to have a story. And do you want to hear about your relatives getting felt up by TSA employees? No, you do not.
7. Your new, overpriced gadget. Because you’re the only one who cares.
8. Burlesque. You’re welcome to go see this Cher-Christina Aguilera camp-fest on your own time — we’ll see you there. But if you say the word “burlesque,” some five-year-old cousin is going to ask what it means, and you really don’t want to explain stripteases to a child in front of your grandma, do you?
9. Derek Jeter. You’re going to have to listen to angry sports people babble about football all day, anyway. Do you really want to give them something else to bore you with?
10. Kanye West. He’s not exactly controversial anymore — we all pretty much agree that he’s brilliant but also crazy. No, the reason we need to avoid Kanye is that Thanksgiving is one of the few times of year that we can actually ignore most of the things that demand our constant attention (email, work, various addictions) in a potentially futile attempt to “unplug” and “feel human again.” And who is more of a time suck these days than Yeezy?