Tolerate What Is Difficult; Engage with What Is Simple
Some people are difficult, and there's no getting around it. You must tolerate their flaws, whether the irritant is a bad temper, a tendency to drink, cutting remarks, an air of superiority, lethal self-importance—the actual flaw doesn't matter. Difficult people won't get under your skin once you realize that they don't need to change in order to make you happy. Let them be. Don't react. Don't argue, and most of all, don't act judgmental. It's not your job to make a sow's ear into a saint.
Engage instead on simple things. I don't mean throwing up distractions about how good the turkey is this year or what the weather is doing. Simplicity means going back to basics. Ask about something that interests the other person. Sympathize with their problems without dwelling too long on them. Offer appreciation by noticing something that the person feels good about. In other words, tune in. I know it's tempting to tune out difficult people, but that's the main reason they keep being difficult. If you simply tune in to how they feel, a bond is established. Then you can talk about anything, including the turkey and the weather.