It’s almost Thanksgiving Day, and some of you are dreading it.
The food and the football should be fine, but you still feel anxiety and we know what’s causing it. At some point, the turkey and dressing, the green beans and candied yams, the booze and the games will not be enough to keep you from having to talk to a blood relative or extended family member who voted for Donald Trump.
It’s going to happen, and this Trump-supporting relative will almost certainly be smug because, as much as it pains those of us who were with her, they secured an electoral college victory for their candidate. This family member is also going to be wrong about every issue, and despite our wishes otherwise, a perfectly-cooked bird and some entertaining football won’t change that.
In years past, I would have wholeheartedly supported and been an active participant in the booze solution, which is to get completely blotto and render yourself incapable of remembering these awkward, possibly contentious conversations.
However, with almost six months of sobriety under my belt, I can no longer recommend this plan, but I am not so far removed from drinking that I’ll deny its efficacy in this scenario. Being able to forget a political discussion you never wanted to have in the first place is a great stress reliever, and it’s too bad that alcohol, drugs, Alzheimer’s disease and playing tackle football are the only surefire ways to wipe out your memory.
Instead of running away, either on foot or by getting into a booze-induced haze, from interactions with Trumpers and Trumpettes, I suggest you go the opposite way. Lean in, literally and figuratively, to these talks.
Don’t do it hoping to find common ground because that will be impossible since they voted for a misogynistic bigot and you didn’t. You’re smarter and better than they are, and have more compassion for your fellow man than they ever will, but don’t bring any of that up. The Trump crowd lives in fear, many of them combat that fear by carrying guns and there is actually one thing on which you and a Trumper can most likely agree: No member of the family should get shot at grandma’s house on Thanksgiving, unless Uncle Russell spoons out two helpings of dressing at once. That sumbitch is fair game if he does that again.
Instead of instigating, listen to the excuses the Trump voter makes for the president-elect and the hundreds of missteps he has made before and after election day. Even though you don’t agree with a single word they’re saying and you wonder how you could have possibly come from the same gene pool, nod occasionally. Pepper in a “that’s interesting” or a “hmm” every now and then to make them think you are at least marginally engaged in the discussion when really, all you can think about is how their kids have little to no chance of doing good in the world with parents who are angry and dumb enough to place their trust in a crooked businessman who has white supremacist tendencies.
Eventually, the Trumper will, you hope, tire of hearing his own voice and that’s when you can escape. Volunteer to do the dishes or take out the trash. Find a football and ask some of the kids if they want to play in the backyard.
Two-hand touch rules, because there are children involved, but you’re forgiven if a little part of you wouldn’t mind a knock on the head.