Ok, lets all just admit it -- sometimes when you get a whole group of people together who only see each other a few times a year, family or not, there can be some...discourse.  Personally, my father and I have had our share of shouting matches at the table.  Am I proud of it?  Not particularly.  Does it happen?  Sure enough.

If you find yourself getting more heated than the gravy, try to use some of these tips from the Mother Nature Network blog, before Aunt Tilly ends up with cranberry sauce on her nice blouse.  Of course, I added a spin to their tips.

-Stay away from controversial topics as much as you can.  This includes politics, religion, family issues, Mac or PC, dairy, dinosaurs, cloud cover, angel-food cake, colors, football, candy, stairs, oxygen, or anything else.  At least in my family. ;)

-Accept criticism gracefully.  Smile and sip whenever anyone asks when you're going to meet a nice young man, or if you're thinking about buying a bigger house, or if they look at you weird.

-Volunteer on Thanksgiving.  All kidding aside, there are those who are indeed less fortunate than us.  And while you're paying it forward, you're also escaping any "ick" you're not looking forward to.

-Seat strategically.  If you're hosting, try to avoid potential conflicts by not putting mom's new husband next to dad's favorite niece.

-Leave early.  It's not a frat party -- you don't have to be first to arrive and last to leave.  Spend a few hours with the fam, and use my dad's annual excuse to go home:  "gotta go sort socks".  Honest to God, he says it every year. Without fail.