SURVEY SAYS: Taboo Subjects at Holiday Gatherings

NewsDash readers shared which topics of discussion are off-limits during their holiday gatherings.

There’s no shortage of polarizing subjects in America and these topics can even divide families. To have peaceful holiday gatherings, certain subjects might be taboo.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “Which subjects are best avoided at your holiday gatherings?” Seventy-four percent of responding readers work in a plan sponsor role, 13% work for/are recordkeepers/TPAs/investment consultants and 13% are advisers/consultants.

Politics/elections and COVID-19 vaccines were the most selected taboo subjects, at 91% and 53%, respectively. Religion, policing in America and racism were each selected by 22% of responding readers. Nineteen percent chose LGBTQ issues, and 16% chose finances. Dying/end of life decisions and family members’ love lives are taboo subjects at the holidays for 9% of respondents, while work, dietary preferences (for example, being vegetarian) and plans for a family member to get married or have children are off limits for 6%.

“Other” responses included “how children are being disciplined/raised,” “mandates—mask or vaccine,” “abortion,” “selection of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,” “Donald Trump,” “anything else you can think of” and “none.”

In verbatim comments, a couple of readers noted how civil, respectful debate seems not as common as it previously was. There were expressions of sadness and grief about the divisions in America affecting families. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “It’s fine to not talk about politics and vaccine mandates because there are so many far more interesting topics to discuss!”

A big thank you to all who participated in our survey and wishes for a peaceful and joyful holiday season for everyone!


Not everyone is able to avoid bringing these topics up, but thankfully most others bite their tongue when the subject arises.

We are at a point that our politicians have become “snake oil salespeople” and are not being transparent with the American people. Discussing politics with someone who believes the current political propaganda is impossible.

It’s fine to not talk about politics and vaccine mandates because there are so many far more interesting topics to discuss!

Any topic can be a good and productive discussion. However, we live in a world now where nobody can disagree respectfully, and it deteriorates into a knock down/drag out. Soon there will be nothing left to talk about during these gatherings, which is truly a shame.

Sometimes it’s better to stick to common ground and let the other stuff go for the sake of enjoyment.

Holidays are so stressful already, those extra subjects don’t help. I used to love the holidays, now as an adult, it gets harder and harder to just enjoy…

It’s the holidays – give others some grace and just appreciate being able to spend time together.

Most people have strong closely held opinions about these topics. There is no point bringing them up because you aren’t going to change anyone’s mind.

When I say politics… I mean Trump.

On one side of the family, nothing is off-limits because we think about the same on all issues, but on the other side just about all of these subjects are off-limits because we are so different in our thinking. It’s amazing how different we are, but we still love each other just as much.

Same as always — avoid religion and politics.

All people, conversations, opinions, feelings are welcome at our table. Some of our most interesting – and productive – discussions are typically considered taboo.

Thank goodness my house has doors so I can go outside and get away from it for a bit!

The anti-vax Trump supporters in my family (who have little involvement in politics otherwise and really can’t back up any of their arguments – I haven’t heard any of them complain about their polio vaccinations or flu shots they get annually) don’t seem to understand that the rest of us don’t want to talk politics with them, yet they just continue to push the agenda. Why can’t they just keep it to themselves? We don’t push our politics or vaccination stances on them. I am actually thankful COVID has given me reason to avoid all of that rhetoric.

Our society has seemingly forgotten how to debate and discuss different points of view in a civil fashion. If we can’t be open, honest, and above all loving and respectful with family… well, it’s a sad commentary. Get over yourself, people…

For our family its best if everyone just watches football. It limits the conversation and keeps people from arguing (except for which is the best team).

It’s funny – though the pretense of my holiday gatherings is always centered around religious celebration, religion is always the last thing I want to talk about when I go to one.

The position some family members have taken regarding the nature and treatment of the COVID-19 virus, denying its very existence, even after their own adult children have been hospitalized by it and continue to suffer from lingering symptoms, is simply bewildering, and cannot be discussed.


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) or its affiliates.