How will politics affect my Thanksgiving?

Well, it is that time of the year again. The air is crisp, the kitchen smells like grandma’s cooking, and it’s time to socialize with relatives you haven’t seen since the holidays last year. Thanksgiving break, when we are supposed to be relaxing before finals but are really just as stressed as our mothers trying to accommodate the in-laws. Our Thanksgiving turkey is seasoned with a little extra anxiety this year because some people are still reveling in the wake of the election. I know I am not the only one with some conservative-leaning relatives who like to dismiss our views with a wave of the hand and some remarks about our “liberal” education.

The tricky part is, I can’t just mute or unfollow these people, as I typically deal with political views that upset me. The man spewing sometimes offensive nonsense is not some stranger but the person who taught me how to play checkers and showed up to every single soccer game in my childhood even though the whole family knew I was terrible. We are accustomed to discussing our progressive ideas with fire and passion, ready to tear down traditions of oppression until it comes to those we love. I know I have a hard time looking at my sweet grandmother, who was raised quite conservatively, and telling her no, I don’t want your cookies. I want you to vote for Biden. So how do we go about this? How do we treat our older relatives with love and respect without dismissing our values? Well, I have curated some tactics which may help keep a family dinner a little less volatile. 

 

1. Have a few facts up your sleeve. 

election Photo by Markus Spiske from Unsplash Let me be clear; this does not mean knocking on nana’s door with a list of Biden’s policies. I suggest finding a few details which will help them believe that a Democratic administration does not equal the end of the world as we know it. For example, as a college student, you can point out that Biden is looking to expand tuition-free college and student loan forgiveness. If they rebuttal this with cries of socialism (as we have all heard before), then remind them that as a student, this would help prepare you for a future with less debt, so you could spend time on a career and building a family. Therefore redirecting the conversation back to the family. 

 

2. Prepare a response for the hot topics.

person holding a sign that says Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

This one is a little tricky as it is different for each family. For example, my grandfather is a retired police officer, so I expect he will bring up the defunding of the police movement. In response to this, I will point out that the police won’t dissolve, but people are just trying to redirect the billions of dollars that fund the police into community programs. These programs may help rehabilitate people, such as those suffering from drug addictions, instead of imprisoning them. I will also acknowledge how Biden has clarified he has no intention of defunding the police but wants to pay closer attention to the needs of different communities. This response does not insult his previous career or ignite a further fight, but it does provide some education on the matter. 

 

3. Remember you love them. 

Gif of Patrick from Spongebob saying I love you. Giphy

If the last steps don’t work and your blood is still boiling, then try your best to stay calm before the turkey is thrown across the table. Many past presidents have asked the country to unite in support of the next administration. Although I do not expect this from Trump, you can certainly ask your family to do the same. Remind them that you would never hope for the pilot of your plane to fail, so why would we want that for the leader of our nation? The only thing the people sitting around your table this November love more than debating about politics is you. Your grandma will still try and make you eat more because she would rather die than see you go hungry. You can try your best to educate them but try to keep that love alive in your conversation. Stray away from harsh tones or words and remind them that you love them too. 

P.S. I have actually tried cutting my grandpa’s political rant short with a short memory of us from our childhood, and it worked! With the help of my sisters and their ability to distract of course.