This Thanksgiving will be hard for many of us. It’s more than the “emotions are raw” thing that keeps being said so casually… For those of us who are actively working to oppose Donald Trump, breaking bread with his supporters will be fraught. This is a disagreement that goes deeper than how we voted and whose candidate won. Being part of #TheResistance is an active and overt rejection not only of the result that Trump supporters feel was fairly won, but also of their vision for what this country should be. It is, in a very real sense, an indictment of their beliefs and values.
If your family relations are already strained and cannot bear the weight of election-related tension, consider hosting a “Friendsgiving” instead of the usual family get together. (My family has hosted a Friendsgiving for the last several years and it is one of our absolute favorite days of the year. We’ve never once regretted walking away from uncomfortable family dinners that left us feeling bad for days. Blogger Brittany Gibbons wrote about this well in 2014.)
If you will be celebrating with family, take care of yourself and them by planning for how to handle difficult political conversations.
- Rest well. Plan your day for what you know you can handle, even if that means arriving a little late or leaving early.
- The LA Times recommends 4 tips for post-election Thanksgiving survival: (1) Set aside political talk; (2) Have an escape plan; (3) Create conversational diversions; (4) Remember you love these people.
- Collaborate with a like-minded relative, or ask your host if you can bring a friend, if you don’t have a like-minded relative (and if it won’t be perceived as rude in your family or culture).
- If you can’t – or don’t want to – avoid political conversation, strategize for how to talk with people in love. SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice) has a Thanksgiving Toolkit with suggested wording. What’s nice about the SURJ Toolkit is that it guides you to always finish what you’re saying with an open-ended question, such as “How do you think people with disabilities are feeling about the election result?” This opens up real conversations. (Note that SURJ’s mission is to empower White people to talk to other White people about racial issues. I have not been able to find a similar guide with a People of Color-specific perspective; if you know of one, put it in the comments below.)
- SURJ also has a holiday hotline if you need extra support.
- Don’t be afraid to state and hold your boundaries, especially if people are treating you disrespectfully. You do not have to stay in any situation, ever.
- Make good decisions: Don’t drink too much, don’t sit right next to that one uncle who makes you so irate. Don’t rise to anyone’s bait.
Treat yourself the same way you’d treat your best friend. Be kind to others and yourself. Know that all over the country, there are millions of us struggling with the exact same thing. And if it all goes to hell, well, then, you can always talk shit about your annoying relatives to your friends later.