How to survive Thanksgiving with your family, the 2017 dumpster fire edition

Last year we expect your Thanksgiving was awkward as heck, but overall not too terrible because everyone was still in shock (shocked they won, or shocked they lost, but either way: stunned into relative silence). This year? Oh, this year Thanksgiving is going to be full of land mines. We’ve had more than twelve months to process the damage, and even people who supported Cheeto Führer are beginning to regret their choice. Sadly, “not all Trumpers,” though. So, how do you survive the day with your friends and family left relatively unscathed?

We have some tips:

    • Have “friendsgiving” instead. This is what I do – I have not celebrated turkey day with my extremely conservative, extremely religious (and, not coincidentally, very pro-45) family in decades. It’s wonderful to spend the day with like-minded people, truly, highly recommended. This year there are 11 friends coming over (I always host), but in other years I’ve had as many as 40 (we ate turkey on the floor like a picnic that year). It is rejuvenating, and a great way to wind down your year.

    • Decide before the day even starts to talk only about good, positive things. If you are having trouble thinking of good things to talk about (we get it, this year has been full of trash humans doing trash things), look to our database and find an organization you can redirect the conversation toward. Anytime the subject starts getting too difficult, try to redirect people to something positive. This lets you talk about your values (and hopefully educate your racist uncle a little) without getting political.

    • Decide not to talk about politics. This will require designating a family moderator who will have the unenviable job of redirecting conversation should politics come up. Because they will come up. With this year, it’s inevitable someone will try to push the limits here. Maybe the moderator can bring soft foam battlestix and use them as a funny gavel to bang on the table as a way to get attention and stop the conversation from going down a slippery slope (or just bop offenders on the head with them – we won’t judge).

    • If you are drawn into talking politics reluctantly, be a storyteller, not a blowhard. One consistent thing about 45 supporters, and conservatives in general, is that their minds literally work differently than the minds of those more liberal-leaning. They come from a place that is self-focused, seeks authority figures, and often centers elements of fear in their decision-making. If you want to make a point, skip the facts – they won’t care about them at all. They only center arguments that reinforce their sense of self, so all arguments for values different than their own must be personal stories that help them equate the damage their views do to others with themselves or someone they know personally. Anything else they just won’t accept. To that end, have solid, engaging stories ready to pull out that equate people they know with the points you want to make.

    • If all else fails, start a food fight. Well, maybe not, your mom might get angry at you for destroying her kitchen and the turkey she lost sleep over, but at least find a way to distract everyone. Maybe spill red wine on Cousin Martha’s Laura Ashley dress “accidentally” then escape to a local Denny’s in the ensuing confusion. Be sure to send us video of your food fight!

    • Be brave and talk about politics and values openly, on purpose. This one is harder, but other people need our voices to help further the cause of equality and justice. For white families, especially, being vocal can lead to total forced estrangement – your family shunning you – which is scary (and also why so many vocal allies end up doing friendsgivings like mine). But as Imani Gandy mentioned on Twitter – it’s needed.

How do you handle holidays like Thanksgiving? Did we miss any of your favorite tips? If you are vocal about your values and your family welcomes that, tell us your secrets in the comments!


image credit Chris Lawton on Unsplash