Eco-protests! Deadnaming! ‘Our government is doing a great job!’ There are plenty of stimulating conversations to be had throughout the year with family members, as you come together over food and disagreement with one another. Here are a few handy examples of how to handle the inevitable bickering without just rolling your eyes and sighing ‘OK Boomer’, over and over.

There are three potential ways to deal with uninformed, annoying or downright ignorant statements. A. is the factual, if slightly facetious answer. B. is the sarcastic clapback you may or may not want to unleash in moderation and C. is the outrageous get out that will ensure these topics (or any other) are never brought up again. This is the nuclear option. Use with caution.

Greta Thunberg is so annoying – what’s she actually done?

A. ‘Aside from mobilising millions of young (and older) people to take action against climate change, she’s been nominated for a Nobel prize three times, and Sir David Attenborough has personally thanked her for her work. That last one makes her better than most people TBH.’

B. ‘As annoying as the fact that your generation have done potentially irreversible damage to the environment?’

C. Pretend you’re choking. When they ask what’s wrong, dramatically shout, ‘JUST CHOKING ON THE METAPHORICAL SMOG OF YOUR CLIMATE DISINTEREST’.

Why do black lives matter more? That’s a bit racist. I believe all lives matter.

A. If this house was on fire right now (which I almost wish it was), would you tell the firemen to go to the neighbours first, because all houses matter equally? Or would this house be the one that needs the most attention RIGHT NOW? No. You’d tell Janet and Trevor to check their house-not-on-fire privilege.

B. You think your cat’s life matters more than most humans’, so I can’t really think up a persuasive enough argument for you to realise black people need our support at the moment. 

C. Launch a smoke bomb (in a colour appropriate to the holiday or occasion) onto the main course and theatrically disappear into the ether like a Victorian magician. 

Back in my day, people were male or female, and everyone was happy. I think I’m going to start identifying as a twenty-year old.

A. As many as half of all trans and non-binary people have attempted suicide, and that’s in the modern day with more openness around the subject and better access to mental health treatment. It’s likely that ‘back in your day’ there were higher suicides and thus fewer survivors around to ruin your day with their gender equality activism.

B. Ahh, twenty is the best age. Enjoy the crippling student debt, job insecurity, increasingly extreme weather and inability to ever buy a house due to Boomers ruining it for everyone.

C. Reply to all further conversation with an airhorn blast. If pressed for an explanation, state incredulously that it is your emotional support airhorn and that if they were really a twenty-year-old they would understand as ‘everyone on TikTok has one’.

(Photo by Sasha/Getty Images)

I can’t see any negatives to Brexit, I’m just glad we got our sovereignty back.

A. With spiralling inflation and rising food costs, energy companies going bust, plus severe and increasing shortages of workers in the NHS, care, haulage, food production and hospitality, I find it very hard to agree with you but as long as you’re happy!

B. Well, on the bright side, there won’t be any more family get togethers when they have to bring rationing back in. Just like the good old days, eh?

C. Put two pencils up your nose and slump onto the dinner table, pushing them into your brain just like that urban legend of the depressed kid in exam season/Frosties advert actor [delete as age appropriate] that did the rounds when you were twelve. The sweet release of death will end the conversation very effectively.

Hopefully, there is a retort that works for every family, every contentious topic and every get together across the year. If none of these feel right, there’s always option D: smile, nod and keep your mouth so full of food and drink that it’s impossible to answer. You can always scream into a pillow later.

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