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Minnesota Nice ways to talk to your conservative relative at Thanksgiving.

Image of a holiday table in blue with text "that's interesting"

So, you just got word that your conservative relative is coming to Thanksgiving. Y’know, the one who keeps posting anti-science memes on Facebook? They don’t want to hear that Scott Jensen’s lies about COVID-19 treatment have been thoroughly debunked. You’ve tried to talk some sense into them and explain that Paul Gazelka’s plan for school vouchers would spell disaster for Minnesota families, but it’s been no use.

Uff-da! That could be a recipe for an awkward family dinner. Luckily, you can keep the peace and have a happy holiday with some classic Minnesota Nice strategies.

For when you want to have the conversation

If you’ve got the energy and the will to make your case to your relative, good for you! Just make sure you go into the conversation prepared.

There are three important tips to remember: ask questions, speak the truth, and focus on what’s really happening.

Let’s say, for example, that your uncle tells you that he doesn’t plan to take your little cousin to get vaccinated. He says it’s because he doesn’t believe that COVID-19 affects children. You know that this isn’t true, and you want to make sure that your cousin is safe.

Ask questions. You ask your uncle, “what makes you think that?” or “where did you hear that?”

He says that he heard it from Scott Jensen, who said that COVID-19 poses “a 0% risk of death to children.”

Speak the truth. You tell your uncle that it would be great if kids couldn’t get COVID-19, but sadly, thousands of children and teens have been hospitalized with the virus. Even more tragically, COVID-19 is now one of the top causes of death in children ages 5-11.

You also let your uncle know that the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice has investigated Scott Jensen’s medical license four times because of his constant spreading of misinformation. He was even credited with the “Lie of the Year” by Kaiser Health for downplaying the pandemic. 

Focus on what’s really happening. In this case, the issue is personal. You care about your cousin, and you wouldn’t suggest anything to your uncle that you believe would do his family harm. You tell your uncle that COVID-19 vaccines have been thoroughly vetted to make sure that they’re safe for children. Then, you offer to send him some information from the Centers for Disease Control to ease any worries he might have about the vaccine.

Whether or not your uncle listens, you feel good that you spoke up and tried your best to advocate for your little cousin. 

But this is sort of a best-case scenario. If you don’t think there’s any point in having a conversation at all, here’s what you can do…

“Ope, I’m just gonna sneak past ya and _____.”

Need to gracefully exit a frustrating conversation? This is where the “ope” is essential. You can say, “Ope, just gonna sneak past ya and see if aunt Lena needs some help in the kitchen,” or “Ope, I think I left my headlights on. Just gonna sneak past ya and turn ’em off.” You can “ope” your way out of practically any uncomfortable situation. 

“That’s interesting.”

If you can’t leave the conversation, there’s “that’s interesting.” This phrase is Minnesota’s original “OK Boomer.” It’s for when you have something to say, but it’s just not worth getting into, because the person you’re talking to won’t want to hear it anyway. If your relative is trying to bait you with a far-right conspiracy theory, all you have to do is nod and say, “that’s interesting.” Then, change the subject. Simple. Efficient. Minnesota Nice. 

Talk about the weather

How about this wind, huh? I wonder if we’ll get any snow before the end of the month! It’s not too cloudy; you think we’ll be able to see some stars tonight?

The weather is one subject that Minnesotans can talk about forever. Your relative won’t even be thinking about politics because they’ll be too busy telling the story of where they were during the Halloween Blizzard of 1991 (again). 

Put on some Prince

And crank it up! It’s hard to have an argument when everybody is dancing to “Let’s Go Crazy.”

Round up the kids for a game of Duck, Duck, Grey Duck

Ditch the adults altogether. Your little nephews, nieces, and cousins are probably bored of watching reruns of holiday movies, anyway. Sit them all down in a circle and show them how to play the ONLY CORRECT VERSION of this classic game. Oh, fer fun!

When all else fails, just eat. 

Sorry, can’t talk! This wild rice hot dish is just so DELICIOUS! 

Happy holidays!

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