Thanksgiving is usually a time of family togetherness — a chance to appreciate each other, enjoy each other and reflect on the blessings of the past year.
For some people, though, it is also a time of incredible stress and apprehension, especially as the date approaches and family comes into town — many of them bringing their outspoken opinions and forthright attitudes along with their favorite dishes.
"I have stopped getting together with my husband’s side of the family all together at Thanksgiving," said a mom of three in Winchester, Massachusetts. "They come late, they stay late, they drink too much and then they’re gone — leaving a trail of mess and hurt feelings in their wake."
A Washington state dad of two told Fox News Digital as well, "My wife tends to be a little sad at this time of year. She lost both parents a few years apart around Thanksgiving."
He continued, "The relatives we generally see at this time of year make her feel worse — they argue, they have some pretty crazy political leanings and just will not hear any other viewpoints."
This husband and dad also said, "One year it got so bad that her grandmother just got up and left. We have found that when the alcohol comes out, the family dysfunction comes out, too."
It may be the manner in which people offer their thoughts and opinions that makes the difference, according to experts in the area of relationships and family dynamics.
"There are a number of topics that often provoke tension, upset, and conflict," Eric Bernstein, a psychologist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, told Fox News Digital via email.
"Much depends upon the delivery of such sensitive issues," he said.
"For example, asking someone for their political opinion in and of itself is not necessarily offensive, nor should it result in conflict," he said.
"However, challenging someone’s opinions or beliefs as somehow less than your own ultimately results in what we want to avoid," he added.
At Thanksgiving, people need to "not only be mindful" of the ideals of "tolerance and acceptance," but also the concept that "there are more views than just our views," Bernstein said.
"We could see this as an opportunity to bring together these polarized opinions and help bridge the gap — and perhaps in so doing, create a more welcoming environment for open dialogue."
His wife Natalie Bernstein is also a Pittsburgh-area psychologist, and she advises people to avoid taking another guest or family member’s words too much to heart.
"It is important to recognize that opinions are just opinions and thoughts or just thoughts," she told Fox News Digital via email.
Topics that tend to induce divisiveness include politics, COVID, women’s rights, sexuality, religion, police issues and social reform, Bernstein said.
"We don’t need to convince others to see something from our vantage point," she said.
"People are entitled to their own beliefs and ideals, and trying to debate [others] with the goal of changing their minds is not helpful."
She also said, "Instead, it is valuable to take someone’s thoughts with a grain of salt, and not allow ourselves to become offended by somebody else’s judgment."
She added, "Often, this is the first time we are seeing family in quite some time. Naturally, we are going to have disagreements."
If a discussion topic becomes heated or if family members say they no longer wish to discuss the topic, "we need to respect their decision," she advised.
"There is a time and place, and out of respect for the family, less controversial topics should be discussed," she said.
Changing the topic and shifting to "sharing past family memories" and "enjoyable holiday traditions" will allow for a more positive family experience, she added.
For one Boston-area wife and mother, even the most hardcore personalities have something to offer at Thanksgiving.
"I had an uncle who had very definite political opinions, but he had the funniest way of presenting them — he would get very heated and throw his hands up in the air and gesture and point a lot," she said.
"The year after he died," she continued, "a few of us got teary in the kitchen — how we would have loved the chance to ask him to ‘pipe down’ one more time."