How do I Thanksgiving now?
November 23, 2016 2:45 PM   Subscribe

Tomorrow, family Ruki will be spending Thanksgiving with at least three out of four Trump voters. My immediate instinct is to walk out if the Trump praising begins, but that would be bad for family relations (although good for me and Kid Ruki's well being). How do I get through this?
posted by Ruki to Human Relations (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
oh no you guys have a sudden health issue and it's really embarrassing and you don't want to talk about the details if you know what I mean but you know nobody else wants it so
posted by Countess Elena at 2:52 PM on November 23, 2016 [20 favorites]

To be a little more serious, I think it's ridiculous that America has basically developed an annual holiday for arguing about politics with your relatives. Consider these guys as individuals. Can you trust them not to say anything hateful? To back away from a subject if you say, "I don't think that's appropriate, let's talk about X instead"? If you can't, then I would avoid the dinner by any means possible.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:56 PM on November 23, 2016 [9 favorites]

Sigh loudly, announce that you need to refresh your drink/go to the bathroom/chew some gum, and leave the table. Wait a few minutes and return. If you're tired of getting up so often, smile and change the subject with passion.

Today's Ask Polly is really good on this topic. She lends perspective on a lot of what we feel w/r/t family and how to properly understand those bonds, and writes about the importance of not taking on any debates while things still feel raw.
posted by witchen at 2:57 PM on November 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

Also, my Thanksgiving weekend prep involves learning the names of some sports teams and looking at ABC Family's fall lineup, and having some cute dog videos ready to go on my phone. I need for small-talk to flow easily from me.
posted by witchen at 3:00 PM on November 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Play games! My aunt and uncle always make us play and we gripe about it, but it's preferable to fighting. Board games, card games, video games, whatever.

The traditional post-dessert Thanksgiving game here is for everyone to get an index card and pen. Write 3 things you're thankful for on one side of card, 3 things on your holiday wishlist on the other side. Don't put your name. Someone reads the cards aloud one-by-one and everyone guesses whose is whose.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:06 PM on November 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'd make it about family history. Get out pictures, ask about them, label them. Ask questions about where grandma and grandpa met, what they did for a living, what did they do for thanksgiving and holidays when they were little.
Take pictures.
Trump? Change the subject or just say "Well, we'll see." or go help in the kitchen. Don't engage. Practice, because we are going to have four years of this. ONLY four years of this, so help me gods.
posted by ReluctantViking at 3:20 PM on November 23, 2016 [7 favorites]

If they raise the subject, why don't you talk about it? You shouldn't be any more afraid to say why you didn't vote for Trump than they are to say why they did? My Thanksgiving family gathering will be allowed a robust 45 minutes or so before on a #MAGA v #NeverTrump before martinis kick in and the subject is changed.
posted by MattD at 3:38 PM on November 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Could you talk to/email a family member beforehand expressing how upset and worried you are with the election result and asking if they could have a quiet word? Like a no politics over dinner rule? Then afterwards you could make your escape when the high fives start.

Either that or what Countess Elena said.
posted by derbs at 4:04 PM on November 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Start talking about how to make the best gravy. People always change track when their gravy technique is at stake.
posted by Namlit at 4:09 PM on November 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've got this new practice which involves starting any difficult conversation with me emphasizing a redeeming quality of the person I'm talking to. And to keep doing it until they hear it. Only then do I make a request of the person.

This totally helped with my cousin, who is big on Trump and also likes to be quasi-hostile when he talks about something other people have vulnerability about.

I asked him what he liked about Trump, and he was going on and on about all the things that will *finally* get done. After he paused, I said "It's really clear to me that you love this country and want what you think is best for it." He was really surprised to get acknowledgment from me and kept silent. And I said, "And so do I. We both love the country and want what's best for it! But we both have really different things that we believe are true, and whenever we've talked about this stuff before, it's never gone anywhere. Neither of us are able to convince the other, right? "

It was at that point that I made my request, which was that we not talk about politics at all, because then we'll be able to have a good time together instead of arguing.

He was totally OK with it, and I came away with so much love for him. That's what this practice is about - trying to be in relationship with people, even those I have disagreements about.
posted by jasper411 at 4:16 PM on November 23, 2016 [39 favorites]

Alternatively, you could take the opportunity to talk about. Showing Up for Racial Justice has an excellent discussion guide available here and they have a text hot line, as well. My friend and co-worker has already found great success with this and I suspect I will have the opportunity tomorrow.

I get that this strategy is not for everyone, but if you are feeling up to it, this is just one of the many resources available out there.
posted by Hopeful and Cynical at 4:20 PM on November 23, 2016 [7 favorites]

If you're a liberal... and especially if you're white and straight and healthy.... then please consider donating some of your energy to the cause of making the world better for other people by endeavouring to make everyone at that table 1% less racist or islamophobic or otherwise harmful.

Please use your privilege to be an ally. This is a great moment to help.

If you're Indigenous or a person of colour or queer or have a disability or mental illness, or are in some similar way put at real physical risk by the coming regime... by all means, save your spoons as needed.

But if YOU actually are not the target of HellCheeto's persecution engine, please, please, please.... help the world by slowing that train when you are around HellCheeto supporters who will not physically hurt you.

All those safety pin wearers- this is a place where you can really help. Help the whole world by making your own people a little bit better.

Your relatives might not agree with you in the moment and you will perhaps feel frustrated, sad, awkward, mad or tired after that conversation. I submit that while those emotions are shitty, it is worse to have gay marriage repealed, Muslims registered, Indigenous water protectors hit with water cannons in winter, Black people shot dead in the streets by police. Your frustration is tiny compared to the very real persecution and violence that is being unleashed around America.

And your energy is not useless. People's social attitudes change. People stopped smoking in malls. People stopped drinking during pregnancy. People stopped casually saying all manner of horrific slurs. You probably said racist or homophobic things in adolescence that you'd never ever say now. Your parents and even your grandparents probably hold less homophobic or racist views than they did in the 1950s. Social progess is slow and rocky.... but IT HAPPENS. It happens 1% at a time. It happens over dinner tables and it happens in tiny nudges from people we respect. It happens despite defensiveness and scoffing. It happens during introspective moments that the person might never own up to . Peer pressure works. Leverage it... that dinner is a session with your peers where you can actually make a small positive change in the world.

You are in a privileged position. You are allowed to break bread with these HellCheeto supporters. They love you. They will let you talk, even if they scoff. Please use that platform for good.

Here is a wonderful article that elaborates on this social responsibility.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 4:48 PM on November 23, 2016 [36 favorites]

I found Yahtzee to be a really good icebreaker for deep, honest discussions with people I have little in common with. You get collaborative about the best way to play a roll, trust is established and you can make them think about other things if you don't come from a place of fear or anger. 5 card stud works too. Play a game or two when you get there and be everything you wish they were.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 4:55 PM on November 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

The deal is that my husband is cooking at his father's house, so we can't bow out. I have already explicitly told my parents how hurt I am by their choices, as a bi Jewish mother of a genderqueer kid. Radio. Silence. I am fully armed with facts and statistics, and what I'm hearing here is that I should stand strong and speak truth. I can do that. It might not be heard, but it would be said.
posted by Ruki at 5:35 PM on November 23, 2016 [10 favorites]

Agree with everything pseudostrabismus said. Captain Awkward had a great post the other day about how to talk to people about these things - A post-election guide to changing hearts and minds. (Of course, most of this is helpful for people who are okay with having these discussions. No one should ever feel obliged to have them if it makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe in any way. In situations like that, I think the "setting boundaries" part of the article is the best course of action)

I like this approach because it (rightly) acknowledges that there are going to be some people who you will never get through to (and you should not waste your time or energy on them), as well as some people who you think might be open to having their mind changed, and people who are potential allies.

With the ones you will never be able to reach, it tells you how to set boundaries:

“It’s important to me to value and respect people of color. I won’t participate in a conversation that doesn’t respect that.”
“I believe we should judge people by their actions as individuals, not by their religion. If you disagree, take it outside.”
“Girls’ right to control their own bodies is non-negotiable for me. Let’s change the subject.”

With the others, it give some approaches you could take which are based on shared values that may help open their minds:

“I think every kid should have a safe and happy childhood, so it makes me incredibly sad that Black children are being shot by the police more often than other children.”
“I think part of what makes the U.S. great is our founding value of religious tolerance, so excluding people from the U.S. just because they are Muslim makes no sense to me.”
“It’s so important to me that every young girl learn that she has the right to decide who touches her body, so when you tell her to hug someone she doesn’t want to, I think about what message she is getting about saying no in other situations.”

There are lots of other good suggestions in there as well. Good luck.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:09 PM on November 23, 2016 [6 favorites]

This is snarky and really may not work, but, if you've asked to change the subject or to not discuss it at all are that has been ignored: Every time someone says something about how Trump is awesome etc., smile brightly and say "Thank you!" and when they ask why, tell them you have decided to donate $amount of money to Planned Parenthood/NODAPL/other anti-Trump cause every time someone brings him up during the holiday or needles you over politics or tells you to just let it go already.
posted by rtha at 10:19 PM on November 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

"Can we please just not discuss politics? Let's just make this a pleasant evening for everyone."
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:42 PM on November 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Come up with a list of conversation starters. Trump? Let's not talk politics, did you watch the parade this morning? Racism? That's an important topic, but I'd rather hear about your new car.

If ou must talk politics, spend time listening. Try to understand what motivated your relatives to make this choice. If you learn anything, let us know. I'm in the same boat, and making sure I park where I can leave swiftly. And I realized I should leave some of the roasted brussels sprouts, and maybe some pie, at home, just in case.
posted by theora55 at 6:46 AM on November 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

in our early thanksgiving yesterday it was made quite clear that the real problems trump is going to solve is black lives matter, lgbt (especially the bathroom provision) rights, the media which trump is going to destroy and how california should secede or maybe should just have about 2/3 of it destroyed. except for oakland which would implode on it's on in no time, heh heh heh.

i left the table and went into another room to watch some basketball game.
posted by lescour at 7:08 AM on November 24, 2016

It was fine. Only one thing was brought up, $15 minimum wage, and I excused myself for a bathroom break.
posted by Ruki at 6:16 PM on November 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

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