How to survive your first Trump Thanksgiving
2016 has by and large sucked. We lost Bowie, Cohen, Wilder, Rickman, and Prince, and gained a 70 year old man baby who didn’t know the basics of government and just hired an open racist as his closest advisor. There isn’t a whole lot to be thankful for when we’re alone, much less when we feel familial obligation to spend time and money eating dinner with people we actively avoid the rest of the year. However, there are ways to survive your first Thanksgiving with a sentient California raisin about to run the world. Here are some tips:
1. Find allies before you hit the dinner table. If you have family members who are not Trump fans, speak with them privately before you ever walk in the door. You will best know the way to diffuse your weird uncle’s ramblings or your racist AF nana who gets awful loud after a few gin and tonics. You will probably find a great sense of gallows humour as you childishly prank them, diverting their rage, or plan ways to back each other up with facts when great aunt Gertrude starts quoting chain emails verbatim. And if you’re a dot of blue in a table of red, plan to have your phone on you at all times and a designated IM’er friend who you can vent to digitally throughout the day.
2. Never let them see you sweat. Your creepy cousin who trolls people online is the same in real life, and will say anything to get a rise out of you. Keep a placid, calm smile and, without ever raising your voice, point out the ways in which you’ll fight back and thrive, while he’ll be in the exact same place. The biggest fear trolls have is societal impotence — needle that in to your conversation to them at every opportunity. And never, ever let the mask crack. Cry when you get home, but know your calmness will enrage them.
3. Make it personal. Perhaps you have Trump voting family members who aren’t caricature awful, but terribly misinformed. You can use personal anecdotes to help them understand what has just happened. You know their lives — use their personal experiences to frame policy. For example: “Remember that lovely neighbour we had who used to bring you home cooked meals when you broke your leg? I hope she’s not receiving the racist abuse we’ve seen across the country. Awful that she could be targeted just for her skin tone.” Or “So sad about cousin Belinda’s youngest being sick again. Sadly, if their insurance is pulled when Trump gets rid of the ACA, those bills will bankrupt them”. Re-frame policy into real-world impact on people they know and love. It helps them understand why the stakes are so high.
4. Lay down some home truths. The old adage goes, “Never talk about sex, religion, or politics”. Yet a week ago, Evangelists overwhelmingly voted a man who’s never held office and admitted on tape to sexual assault. Not talking about the big stuff is what got us here, and change will not happen in a top-down manner, because at the top of our nation we now have people who Russia openly admit they helped elect. Time to have small, painful, but necessary conversations with people we know about what is happening around us. Yes, it will be tough, but nothing good ever came from taking the easy way out.
5. Take care of you. “Family always comes first” is cute on a Hallmark card, but the fact is, that thinking is a holdover from when your mom had to have 10 kids because 4 of them would die of Cholera, and kids were needed to look after dad when he reached the grand old age of 50. If people you know only through a genetic sequence have actively voted against who you are and your rights, and even worse, are openly gloating, you have every right to peace out. This isn’t a regular election where you’re bummed if your side didn’t win, but everyone gets on with it. The guy who was such a vindictive baby he had to have his twitter account taken away from him the last days of the campaign who will now have codes to nuclear weapons. This is not normal.
If you need to make an excuse, create a dead battery for your car the morning of the trip to grandma’s house. Maybe you “accidentally” booked your flight to a vacation spot instead of your sister’s home with the giant Trump sign in the front yard. Or just tell your family flatly: “You voted to take away affordable healthcare from me. You voted to take away my rights over my own body. You voted to nullify my marriage. My reaction to your decisions is on you.” And then enjoy the rest of your day. Donate a few hours at your local soup kitchen, binge watch Netflix while you sort clothing to give to charity, or just lounge around the house, enjoying the freedom of not having to “play nice” with people who didn’t play nice when they voted for a man who will hurt you.
I’m thankful that I have freedom of speech, and I will not diminish it out of some mis-applied obligation to “be nice”. Rot thrives in covered places; sunlight kills it. A man who lied for 18 months straight is a rotting corpse of what our nation was, and sunlight, telling the truth, speaking out, and making tough choices for yourself and the people you hold dear, that is what will end it. I don’t personally anticipate a 23rd minute of sitcom resolution, where everyone learns something important. I expect to lose friends and family. However, one must ask, if people chose to hurt you and the things you love with their votes, were they actually your loved ones, or just people you keep in contact with out of some obligation?
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.