If you’re anything like me, between the election, Russia, police shootings, riots, and the general geopolitical landscape, sharing a meal with a large group is a conversational minefield. Raise the stakes of hurt feelings by about a thousand if those people are related. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family. They’re great people who love each other and have a lot of different viewpoints. In my extended family, that includes three cops, a soldier, a Marine, a Marine recruit (he’s at basic right now), several dry cleaners, a financial planner, a car salesman, a tattoo artist, a PR professional, a psychotherapist, an action news reporter, and several butchers. About that last one: We’re Italian. It’s a thing.

With that in mind, when the conversation starts to turn into the dicey areas of: terrible things politicians have said and done, birth control, religion, Aleppo, ISIS, gender issues and safe spaces, we have some convenient plan Bs available to you.

  1. A treasure hunter is in jail and cannot get out until he gives up the location of his treasure. He found the sunken treasure of the SS Central America off the Carolina coast in the late ’80s and pioneered underwater exploration while doing it. The wreck is worth $400 million in gold alone and is 95 percent unexplored. Also, while he has rotted in jail for over a year, some of his investors are actually dying off.

    Gold discovered in the shipwreck of the SS Central America, courtesy of The Washington Post.
  2. In a coup for high school students delivering pizzas everywhere, Lance Tyler of Papa John’s did what Palm Coast Florida law enforcement couldn’t after Hurricane Matthew: He confirmed that Eric Olsen’s grandmother was OK after the storm. Kudos to Olsen for thinking of a private enterprise that could put him in touch with his grandmother and bring her food. And Kudos to Lance Tyler for getting the special instructions right on the order and putting his phone to Claire Olsen’s ear. Two guys looking out for Grandma. Just know that you’re raising the bar for yourself if Grandma hears that.

    Lance Tyler of Papa John’s. Courtesy of WFTV 9.
  3. Paul and Ringo are still charming as ever. For real. I’d be lucky if I was half this much fun when I’m their age.

4. Because who doesn’t love prototypes for awesome tech. Plus, this one is for safety, so Mom can feel better about your protective gear. The “Iron Man Suit” from Talos is slated to start testing in the next year. The Marines are simultaneously groaning, “I bet the Army has it on every rear-echelon jackass before our grunts get one.”

5. “Rogue One” is out. The gritty “Star Wars” movie that apparently makes up for the child’s toy-peddling of the prequels is available to see and/or talk about. If someone at your table has a problem with that, just kick them out. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

**Bonus round**

Image courtesy of Business Insider

Vladimir Putin actually stole Patriot’s owner Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl ring in 2005. This is a real thing that really happened. Immediately after, Kraft called the $25,000 ring a gift. But he later recanted and said that Putin pocketed it in front of him, and was then escorted away by KGB guys. We can forgive Kraft for mistaking the KGB with their current incarnation as the FSB, especially considering Putin was in both. Putin has denied Kraft’s account, insists he doesn’t have the ring, but has offered to replace it with another ring personally made for Kraft.

All joking aside, you’re with family. Relax, let the little things go and have some fun with people you likely don’t get to see that often anymore. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Featured image courtesy of Fox.