November 20, 2012

Trigger Topics at the Dinner Table

Thanksgiving will be here in two days, a day when millions of Americans sit down to dinner with their extended families. Some gatherings will be amiable, some will not.

In an effort to make dinner table conversation more pleasant, I thought it would be useful to think of a couple topics that are triggers for rants or arguments. If I know ahead of time what my trigger topics are, so if the conversation goes in that direction I can either reroute it or step away. Even better, if I share these topics with a couple of family members, they can avoid those subjects as well. And if I know their trigger topics, I can do the same for them.

Conventional wisdom says that you should avoid talking about politics and religion, but those two topics, in general, don't provoke me. The subjects that make me go off on a ranting tangent or expound embarrassingly from my limited knowledge are not what you'd expect.

The topics below are ones I know I tend to either go on and on about at length or else start arguments about. For pleasant holiday dinner conversation, it's best to avoid them. I'll save these for the wine-fueled late-night debates after the kids are in bed.

My Trigger Topics

  1. Transportation infrastructure
  2. Ronald Reagan
  3. Economics
What are some topics that you (or your relatives) should avoid? Current events, or that one family story your mom likes to tell? Post yours in the comments.


  1. 1. Israel
    2. privilege
    3. the invention of agriculture

    And, because I can't resist, hopefully the next time I can visit the flights out of Reagan National Airport won't be too much more expensive than Dulles.

    1. The invention of agriculture? Interesting. Next time you visit, we'll have to have a good, long discussion about that. But not during dinner. :)