It’s hard to tamp down the overheated rhetoric of this ever-so-divisive election. Suddenly, the holidays are upon us and we aren’t even sure if we can bear to spend a whole day with certain family members. I see some online friends struggling with this. Here are some of the concerns and some solutions they’re going to try.
M.L. has a great idea for Thanksgiving: “A tasty protest. If you feel obligated to have Trump supporting family members over for Thanksgiving. Do what I’m going to: have a Global Thanksgiving. No turkey here, just delicious food from all the countries and ethnicities that make up my community and my circle of friends.”
Another friend said, “This is great because you can feel good about it either way: if they like it, you’ve taught them the value of understanding people who are not the same as them. If they don’t like it, you get to smirk into your napkin as they shift uncomfortably in their seats and muddle through the meal.”
S.B.K. added an idea to expand on this, “I suggest that you play a soundtrack of world music while everyone is eating. Putumayo World Music puts out some fabulous albums.”
Someone suggested posting a sign at the door, “Politics not spoken here.”
B.H. had this perspective, “We have two options for dealing with Trump supporters in our family during the holidays:
A) Have the difficult conversations.
Don’t make it easy. Don’t fear making them uncomfortable. Part of the reason Trump was elected was because many white people, myself included, have not been having the difficult conversations with other white people. The old mantra of not bringing up politics or religion is dead. Bring it up. Make them squirm. Look up resources for having productive difficult conversations and practice as a family what you will say. If you’re thinking “I don’t want to ruin Thanksgiving” think about the LGBTQ youth who have been kicked out of their homes and might be without shelter in Trump’s America. Think about the undocumented people currently in detention centers. We need to sacrifice our own comfort to make the world a better place for them.
B) Don’t go/Don’t welcome.
We didn’t uninvite my in-laws to Thanksgiving, but we told them that we were deeply unhappy with them and didn’t really want to break bread with Trump supporters right now, so they uninvited themselves. These people voted for Trump because the bad stuff doesn’t affect them. Make them recognize actions have consequences. Make it affect them. A vote for Trump was a hateful act. The price should be your company and affection.
I recognize if you’re married to a Trump supporter these suggestions might not be possible, but I hope they are useful for confronting parents/siblings/cousins etc. Strength to you all as we navigate a difficult time together.”
V.B. is bypassing Thanksgiving with relatives, “I hope to go to the soup kitchen and serve. I want to give this year. I have a lot and more than enough to be thankful.”
A.L.B. has used these instructions in the past and it certainly seems appropriate for this election year Thanksgiving. “I actually post the ‘annual house rules’ when I invite everyone, since I do have friends of all types. It includes a ‘rule’ as follows: 3- My friends are diverse. They come in all colors, sizes, ages, ethnic groups, religious beliefs, political affiliations, orientations and with all kinds of hobbies/interests/passions. Negative energy or negative/inflammatory conversations of any kind are forbidden. I will toss out offenders. It’s my party, my favorite holiday and my house. Deal with it.
A lot of people are dreading Thanksgiving next week. If you find yourself with your stomach in knots, then perhaps you need a new version of the holiday and not the same old family gathering.