Talking about politics with your family during Thanksgiving doesn't have to turn into a fight.
"A Thanksgiving Truce"/ J.S. Pughe

The holidays are supposed to be a time for families to come together, yet it seems harder and harder in these divisive times.

We once lived in a world where the most dreaded thing about the holidays was fielding Great Aunt Karen’s questions asking why you’re not married. Former chief strategist for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, Mark Longabaugh, once said that political debate today is a "cage match of emotions."

And when facing one’s family, it feels like one has to gear up for the fight. But it doesn’t have to be that way.


In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, many families altered their plans due to the tense political climate. A study found that many families shortened their Thanksgiving dinners by 20 to 30 minutes, and the New York Times stated that some families even cancelled theirThanksgiving plans due to political divides. The 2016 election was a significant source of stress for over half of Americans.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

While this year’s holidays don’t come on the heels of a particularly heated presidential election, many rifts of 2016 seem to hold firm. Non-profit research institute Public Religion Research Institute found that 90 percent of Democrats have a negative view of the Republican party, and the dislike is mutual. 87 percent of Republicans also harbored a negative view of Democrats. Furthermore, a Huffington Post/YouGov survey revealed that 40 percent of voters in the 2016 presidential election had at least one family member that voted for a different candidate. 40 percent of that group said that, since the 2016 election, the difference in political opinion had been either a major or minor problem with other family members.

Is it possible to get back to where we were before politics divided us all?

Jan Steen/Streit beim Kartenspiel

Can the stress of the holidays involve presents and baking and travel plans, instead of worrying whether or not Uncle Bill will bring up the boarder wall or wondering how to explain the significance of #MeToo to your grandmother?

Discussing politics so fervently might not be as effective as we want to believe. A Pew Research poll found that just 14 percent of Americans changed their mind about a political or social issue because of a post they saw on social media. It has been suggested all the conflict might actually be counterproductive. While you might not agree with your grandmother’s generation’s views on who should be president, that generation might have had a point when they advised against talking about politics in polite company.

Perhaps the best course of action is to accept those things you cannot change, that your "crazy" cousin will always be different.

When we come together and try to understand one another, the holidays can be harmonious – until Great Aunt Karen wants to know when you’re planning on having kids.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

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Images via Canva and Unsplash

If there's one thing that everyone can agree on, it's that being in a pandemic sucks.

However, we seem to be on different pages as to what sucks most about it. Many of us are struggling with being separated from our friends and loved ones for so long. Some of us have lost friends and family to the virus, while others are dealing with ongoing health effects of their own illness. Millions are struggling with job loss and financial stress due to businesses being closed. Parents are drowning, dealing with their kids' online schooling and lack of in-person social interactions on top of their own work logistics. Most of us hate wearing masks (even if we do so diligently), and the vast majority of us are just tired of having to think about and deal with everything the pandemic entails.

Much has been made of the mental health impact of the pandemic, which is a good thing. We need to have more open conversations about mental health in general, and with everything so upside down, it's more important now than ever. However, it feels like pandemic mental health conversations have been dominated by people who want to justify anti-lockdown arguments. "We can't let the cure be worse than the disease," people say. Kids' mental health is cited as a reason to open schools, the mental health challenges of financial despair as a reason to keep businesses open, and the mental health impact of social isolation as a reason to ditch social distancing measures.

It's not that those mental health challenges aren't real. They most definitely are. But when we focus exclusively on the mental health impact of lockdowns, we miss the fact that there are also significant mental health struggles on the other side of those arguments.

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True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

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Gates Foundation

Once upon a time, a scientist named Dr. Andrew Wakefield published in the medical journal The Lancet that he had discovered a link between autism and vaccines.

After years of controversy and making parents mistrust vaccines, along with collecting $674,000 from lawyers who would benefit from suing vaccine makers, it was discovered he had made the whole thing up. The Lancet publicly apologized and reported that further investigation led to the discovery that he had fabricated everything.

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via Budweiser

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We can't forget the "Wassup?!" ad that premiered in December 1999, spawning the most obnoxious catchphrase of the new millennium.

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