For many people around the country, Thanksgiving is when families come together and gather around the table, put aside whatever fad diets they’re on, and indulge their gastronomic fantasies.
Yet again, the usual fabric of family dynamics is bound to be stretched beyond the usual limits. In the wake of an almost full year of Donald Trump serving as the president, nerves are understandably frayed.
So if you're one of the many people finding themselves sitting across the table from relatives who support the president, here are some ways you can survive the holiday unscathed.
Drink and Keep Drinking
The first and obvious defense mechanism would be to dull the senses by hitting the sauce. This is already a go-to method for many people to get through Thanksgiving dinner with their sanity intact, but 2017 might require that little bit more.
50% of people say drinking will make their #Thanksgiving with family more tolerable...— Ty, Kelly & Chuck (@TyKellyandChuck) November 21, 2017
Agree or disagree???
No politics for two days. I imagine I’ll be drinking. #Thanksgiving— Carlos F. Herrera (@hejurbets) November 22, 2017
On the other hand, it could also be a recipe for disaster. While an extra glass or two of wine may help you ignore your obnoxious uncle’s support for Trump, this year it could be the match that lights the fire. Politics and alcohol rarely mix, and we all know how alcohol can weaken the filters that help us resist the urge to voice our every thought.
Avoid Politics At All Costs
Avoidance is rarely a solution to a problem, but this year it’s possibly the smartest way to get through the holidays. It would be wise for families to set ground rules about refraining from talking about politics at all, especially if members of your family have already been vocal or even aggressive at some point during last year's presidential elections.
It might be a good idea to switch off Fox News or CNN for a day and make room for conversations about other parts of our lives. Work, romantic relationships and friendships, the vacations we’ve taken or are planning to take, books we’ve read, and movies we’ve seen are usually uncontroversial conversations that can be had without the risk of crockery being flung in someone’s direction.
Have The Conversation
Given how personal and emotional these last few weeks have been thanks to the Russia investigation, the sexual harassment scandals, and the fact that the Trump presidency is a never-ending joke occupying the White House, it might be difficult to ignore the elephant in the room.
In an age when we are all guilty of picking and choosing news and opinions that usually reinforce our own beliefs, we’ve reached a point where we talk past each other rather than having an honest conversation.
Similarly, people on the right feel that the left has largely talked down to them since the election, even though their president is allegedly corrupt, and he's part of the establishment that has failed to solve the problems faced by average Americans.
During Thanksgiving, instead of reinforcing the differences that have been pitting us against our friends and loved ones, it's time to take a deep breath and talk about what makes us similar.
Take what comedian Sarah Silverman said about her encounter with Trump supporters for instance and try to do your best to find common ground.
Actress, comedian, and former Bernie Sanders supporter Sarah Silverman says she “fell in love” with Donald Trump voters while traveling the country to work on her new Hulu television series, I Love You, America. pic.twitter.com/2BjH8xuWYA— Spaceman Reporter (@beatlesjad) November 22, 2017
People are generally multi-dimensional. Just like you may have voted for Hillary Clinton for various reasons, and despite genuine flaws in her policy positions, Trump supporters likely hold views that may surprise you and make you think about things differently.
Accept the Differences, Learn, and Move on
While the thought of spending Thanksgiving with relatives who voted for Trump — and still support him — might be our worst nightmare come to life, perhaps it’s time to accept you may never be able to change their minds and learn from it.
As President Barack Obama said, “Democracy is messy,” and sometimes the other guy wins.
The fears and concerns about a Trump presidency have all come true, but that’s not an excuse to demonize the more than 60 million people who voted for him. Perhaps Thanksgiving is an opportunity to learn why some people in our own family, who we know to be largely honest, kind, and sincere people, could have voted for someone like Trump.
And while their reasons may not be rational to us, they are rooted in genuine hopes and desires that have not been addressed.
If All Else Fails...
Last year, a nonprofit group Showing Up for Racial Justice, which organizes “white people for racial justice,” helped folks get through the holidays by offering tangible support in the form of an actual helpline.
But now, if you are having issues dealing with relatives who are comfortable with Trump’s racist remarks and policy positions, the best way to go about it is to simply show them the civility that they refuse to show others who are different from them.
In that spirit, here’s to hoping that everyone has a happy Thanksgiving.
Banner Photo: Flickr Dianne Rosete