It’s the time of year when awkward conversation and uncomfortable interactions with family members we rarely see are commonplace. Whatever kind of Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, volunteering, or traditions you are celebrating, having something to get a conversation going can make things a little easier. If you are trying to avoid politics, then it is especially important.
(Note: Talking politics is incredibly important, and necessary, especially with families that disagree. In several episodes we’ve discussed the importance of talking about difficult things. However, self care is also necessary, and sometimes that means just getting through a meal. If you, however, for self care reasons, need to punt, here’s a few suggestions.)
While it is true that just about any topic can be turned into a political discussion, there are at least some things you can bring up that won’t directly point a political direction.
Here’s 10 topics that could help make you the hero of the holiday table.
1: What would you make if you had a 3D printer?
The first commercial 3D printer launched in 1987. Today, 3D printers are widely available and easily available in maker spaces and public libraries. Find out more by listening to Daily Download #24.
2: Do you consider the practice of hand-annotating a book you are reading sacrilege or a part of a time-honored tradition?
The notes made in books by the people reading them are extraordinarily intimate. But the very act of making those notes is a point of heavy controversy. No promises this topic won’t start a war, but at least it won’t be political. Find out more by listening to Daily Download #41.
3: Is boredom a useful thing to experience?
As a transient state – something that we occasionally experience – boredom can be very adaptive. After all, seeking something new or interesting or enthralling can be the mother of some very useful inventions. Learn more by listening to Daily Download #56.
4: Would a one-way trip to another planet be a brave adventure, a suicide mission, or something else entirely?
Current rules that NASA has in place regarding everything from radiation exposure to communication would prevent a “responsible” trip to deep space. But some organizations are still trying. Learn more by listening to Daily Download #85.
5: What’s your comfort food?
When people talk about comfort food, the obvious explanation is that it’s all about nostalgia and missing Mommy, but comfort food is much more than just memory. It is something that ties into our senses and emotions both. Learn more by listening to Daily Download #107.
6: Do you put stock in horoscopes?
While horoscopes have been reportedly debunked by “time twins” studies, plenty of people still believe in the importance of birthday based future telling. Some studies even suggest that horoscopes can be bad for you. But plenty of people still read their horoscopes. Learn more by listening to Daily Download #116.
7: What is the most useful piece of advice about relationships you have ever gotten or seen?
Good or bad, relationships are something we all have some experience with — and family often has advice that can be interesting to hear. We may not believe everything they say, but the stories are almost always intriguing. A great follow up question is “how did that come about?” Learn more by listening to Daily Download #129.
8: When you move, what’s the first thing you unpack?
The typical American moves 11.7 times in their lifetime. All these moves means most of us get some kind of system down, and what we pack last and unpack first says a lot about how we build our physical spaces. Learn more by listening to Daily Download #170.
9: What’s your favorite (or least favorite) fairy tale? Why?
One translator of fairy tales said they are “stories that try to find the truth and give us glimpses of greater things.” Fairy tales range from the “original” dark to the current Disney reellings. Learn more by listening to Daily Download #192.
10: Do you believe in prophetic dreams?
Dreams that serve prophetic purposes used to be very commonplace. In antiquity, dreams were used for everything from religious to medical purposes, but today prophetic dreams are not considered to be a common occurrence. Yet many people can still recall at least one dream that sticks out in their mind. Learn more by listening to Daily Download #208.