Here are some tips for making it through Thursday, November 24th, unscathed:
· Show up on time, bring some wine and rolls, tell everyone that turkey makes you sleepy, immediately go upstairs and put yourself to bed.
· Invite a friend to accompany you to Thanksgiving dinner. Tell your relatives that he’s there as an impartial witness and also to fact check everyone’s statements: “I’m sorry, Deb, but the statement, ‘I just think it’s funny how…,’ does not check out.”
· Pull into the driveway, wave from inside the car, text everyone you’re lining up for black Friday deals early, back out of the driveway, and drive away.
· Open up some old photo albums, gather your loved ones around, and reminisce about those good old days when you were too young to vote.
· Make sure that the TV is on at all times with the volume so loud people can barely hear each other. Every time your uncle comments that registering people is just what we do in America, turn the volume up.
· Start drinking as soon as you arrive and DO. NOT. STOP. When confronted by a relative about how drunk you’re getting, say it’s the only way you can stand to eat her horrific cranberry dressing again this year. Take comfort in the fact that the screaming argument that ensues will be in no way related to politics.
· When you’re overcome with tears of frustration, cry over the pot of mashed potatoes so as to add the subtle, pleasing flavor of despair.
· If the conversation gets politically intense, bring up one of these topics, which are guaranteed to defuse any situation:
- Public Square is looking pretty sharp. But how 'bout them buses?
- The Browns might win this week.
- Kanye West – the worst, right?
· Ask to sit at the kids’ table. Take the opportunity to teach the children about xenophobia, privilege, fear mongering, the patriarchy, Stonewall, Occupy Wall Street, unchecked consumerism, the punk rock movement, and how their parents are all brain washed extensions of The Man. Do not stop until either the children are asking you to help them dye their hair green or you are disinvited from all future Thanksgivings.
· Ask your relatives to give you five minutes in which you can speak your mind uninterrupted. Tell them, calmly, why you’re upset and what you’re afraid of. Tell them that our country has fractured into various groups that almost never intersect and tell them how lucky we are to we live in a state where urban and rural communities co-exist in such close proximity. Tell them how lucky we are that we get to interact with people from the other side of the political spectrum on a daily basis. Tell them that you know that they have a right to their opinions as you do to yours and that it’s so great that we live in a country where we are able to speak our minds freely without fear of persecution. Tell them that you love them and that you want to truly understand their deeply held beliefs. And then, sit back and listen, really listen, to what they say. And when you want to stand up and yell, “No! That’s wrong!”, don’t. Take out your phone and quietly, under the table, set up a monthly donation to your favorite charity that your relatives also happen to hate.
Many people are anxious about Thanksgiving this year. This national holiday is all about gathering together with those that you love and giving thanks, and is also the first time many family members will be seeing each other since one of the most divisive presidential elections in US history. Which leaves many of us with this familial scenario: We voted for different candidates, we have different feelings about the impending Trump administration, and we’re going to have to communicate face-to-face without the security of being able to report each other’s comments to Facebook.