7 News Stories That Thanksgiving Dinner Will Inevitably Touch On & How To Expertly Respond To Each One

If your Thanksgiving plans involve catching up with relatives, then you're probably prepared for the questions about your love life, your career, and your bad habits. At some point in the night, though (probably between the second and third bottle of wine), the conversation will inevitably turn to the year's biggest news stories. Don't spend another year quietly refilling your wine glass while your crazy aunt and uncle go back and forth over women's health issues. Instead, prep now for the dreaded Thanksgiving-table news debates and be ready to proudly put the haters to shame.

There's no shortage of newsworthy topics to discuss at Thanksgiving dinner in the present moment. Even more has happened throughout the past year. After all, the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, Caitlyn Jenner introduced herself to the world, and Donald Trump announced he would run for president. If that weren't enough, the government has come close to defunding Planned Parenthood, and last week's attacks in Paris have sparked a debate over whether or not we should allow refugees to seek asylum within our borders. With so many topics to cover, the debate is sure to be lively — but hey, isn't it better than answering the "When are you going to settle down and get your life together?" question again?

1. Gay Marriage

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The story:

Definitely one of the biggest news stories of the year so far, the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage back in June when it ruled that gay marriage bans at the state level were unconstitutional. Since then, same-sex couples across the country have been able to marry, but the ban has not been universally accepted. Some states, like Alabama, pushed back against the ruling by refusing to comply initially. Then, there was the whole Kim Davis fiasco, when a county clerk in rural Kentucky refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on the grounds that it violated her right to freedom of religion.

The argument you need:

If you have any homophobic relatives, you can tell them to face facts: We're nearly six months in and this ruling isn't going anywhere. Let love win and move on. After all, if you're a heterosexual individual, has the ruling really changed your life at all in the past six months? If Kim Davis can go back to her job, you can get on with your life.

2. Hillary Clinton's Emails

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The story:

Not only is she running for president, but Hillary Clinton has faced ongoing criticism and scrutiny this year because she used a private email address during her time as secretary of state. That's a big no-no, seeing as the secretary of state inevitably receives and sends emails about classified information. The State Department has released hundreds of Clinton's emails, and it seems like most people (Bernie Sanders included) are just plain tired of hearing about them. Still, there's a pretty good chance someone at the Thanksgiving table will bring up #Emailgate.

The argument you need:

Channel your inner Sanders on this one: During the first Democratic debate back in October, Sanders proclaimed, "...the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails." Yes, the email scandal is somewhat troubling, but at this point, can't we all just laugh about Clinton asking an aide what FUBAR means? Pro tip: Turn this debate into a learning opportunity for all of your relatives who need to figure out how to use emojis.

3. The Syrian Refugee Crisis

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The story:

Civil war in Syria has wreaked havoc on local populations, causing hundreds of thousands of people to flee the country in search of safer living conditions in Europe. Coastal countries like Greece and Italy have become overwhelmed by the number of refugees flooding their borders, and member countries of the European Union have begun to relocate refugees in an effort to stabilize the situation.

Back in September, President Obama announced that the United States would take in at least 10,000 refugees over the next year. Since the violent attacks in Paris last week, and the news that one of the attackers may have entered Europe on a refugee route, the American public has been divided: Some don't want to allow refugees in the U.S. for fear that an ISIS operative could get in, while others have faith that the vetting process used by the State Department would weed any potential terrorists out of the refugee population.

The argument you need:

The United States has a distinct advantage over European countries when it comes to vetting refugees: the Atlantic Ocean. Syrians can't paddle to our borders, like they can to Italy and Greece. In taking in refugees, the United States essentially chooses which people to fly into the country — and the State Department has promised to make Syrian refugees the most strictly vetted group of people entering the country. Admittedly, the situation doesn't come without its risks, but think of it this way: In 1939, a Gallup poll revealed that 67 percent of Americans opposed allowing German child refugees (seeking asylum from the Nazis) into the country.

4. Donald Trump

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The story:

You'd be a fool not to prepare for this one: Donald Trump is running for president, and no, it's not a reality TV stunt. What's more, he's pretty steadily leading the Republican primary polls. Along the way, Trump has countless people with his controversial statements about Hispanic immigrants, women, Black Lives Matter protesters, and more.

The argument you need:

Sure, Trump is an undeniable business success. He could probably do wonders for our infrastructure and our economy. But he's never been in government and he has an affinity for making people uncomfortable. Is he really the person we want representing the United States in forums like the United Nations? Do we want him to have the final say in negotiations over kidnapped Americans abroad? Do we want Trump to have his finger on the proverbial "button" for nuclear weapons? Teddy Roosevelt once told the country to "speak softly and carry a big stick," but Trump isn't exactly subtle enough to just carry the stick.

5. Planned Parenthood

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The story:

Planned Parenthood has been around for years, but it's getting attention in 2015 as a by-product of the growing women's health movement and the upcoming presidential election. Earlier this year, the nonprofit became a hot topic of conversation at a Republican primary debate, in which Carly Fiorina (and others) claimed that Planned Parenthood was aborting late-term fetuses at least in part to "harvest its brain." Back in September, the Senate narrowly avoided a government shutdown over the issue of funding Planned Parenthood.

The argument you need:

Here's the thing: Planned Parenthood does not advocate for abortion. In reality, abortion is a small part of what Planned Parenthood does. In the 2013-2014 fiscal year alone, Planned Parenthood performed nearly 500,000 breast exams and nearly 400,000 Pap tests. As a result, the organization identified cancer or abnormalities in more than 87,000 women — women who probably would not have otherwise been helped.

What's more, during that same time period, Planned Parenthood's sex education efforts helped teen pregnancy and abortion rates reach a 20-year low. If you absolutely cannot live in a world where abortion is legal, then fine, protest it — just don't go after Planned Parenthood as a whole when it is helping to provide necessary, basic healthcare for women.

6. The Second Amendment

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The story:

In 2015, there have been roughly 300 mass shootings in the United States. Just on Sunday night, at least 16 people were shot in a New Orleans park — and witnesses have said they saw a man leaving the park with a machine gun. Violence like this has sparked a fluctuating debate over the need for gun control laws in the U.S., but no significant policy change has actually come to fruition. That's probably because no matter how intense the debate gets, there's still this very straightforward clause in the Constitution that protects Americans' right to keep and bear arms. Oh yeah, and the almighty NRA.

The argument you need:

Unfortunately, it's not just the Second Amendment that's on the gun-lovers' side; it's also a large portion of the population. Despite the violence caused by mass shootings, Americans still increasingly think that the answer to our society's problem is to arm more people, rather than fewer. Maybe the answer isn't more or fewer guns, but rather changing who has the guns and what kind of guns they have. After all, why does a civilian need a military-grade assault rifle? If direct gun control isn't going to happen, can we at least up the standards for obtaining a gun? Sure, some would say that still counts as gun control, but at this point, it seems more like a public safety solution.

7. Caitlyn Jenner

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The story:

Your parents, uncles, aunts, etc. most likely grew up knowing Bruce Jenner as much more than a Kardashian. He was an Olympian, the most athletic man in the world, the pinnacle of masculinity. Now known as Caitlyn, Jenner has received no shortage of scrutiny since announcing, "For all intents and purposes, I'm a woman," in her famous interview with Diane Sawyer back in April. She has been repeatedly honored for her courage in doing so.

The argument you need:

This isn't just a Hollywood/Kardashians/entertainment issue. Regardless of your personal beliefs, Jenner has empowered other people in her position to live an honest life. How can that be a bad thing? Suicide attempt rates among the transgender community fall somewhere north of 40 percent, according to The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. If a role model like Jenner can lower that rate at all, then good for her. Also, she didn't necessarily ask to receive the honors that she has been given. Rather, she has told her story using the platform her career and her family has built for her, and she has carried herself with grace throughout the process.

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From the plethora of debate-worthy presidential candidates to the issues that they're talking about on the campaign trail, the heated conversation will likely flow this Thanksgiving. Don't be afraid to voice your opinion with a millennial perspective. If all else fails, distract your loved ones with pie.