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.