November 21 2016
Family

So, Thanksgiving is Going to be Interesting…

thanksgivingThe period from just before Halloween right up to Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year.  The warmth that comes during this period is something I revel in.  I’m always amazed at how I cannot get that warm feeling back after my holiday decorations come down, once that cold winter light sets in.  I hang up string lights, I bake cakes, I court disaster with the the glow of half a dozen candles, but try as I may, it just won’t come back. (Unless it snows, and then all is right with the world.)

I know the reason is that the warm feeling I love so much is really centered around the holidays, and the treasured family traditions that come with them.  But this year promises to be different and I am struggling with some sadness over it.

Family life, invaded by politics

The recent turn of events has put a damper, to put it lightly, on many of my closest family relationships.  I am just not looking forward to seeing my family, or my husband’s family this Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving weekend.

I would gladly take a year off and have an intimate holiday with just our little family unit.  But I want to see my nieces and nephews.  Since they’ve gotten older, I see them much less, as so often goes. So we do not plan to forfeit the holiday.  Instead, I am working on my mind and my attitude. After all, that’s any of us can control.

The game plan…

I need to steel my insides, be a big girl, channel my inner Buddha, and try not to allow my disappointment in my family’s political beliefs to engulf me in negativity.  At a minimum, I must be extremely thoughtful in my responses to political conversation, which I will not initiate under any circumstances.  The discourse on this topic has gotten so nasty because people are so passionately divided. I understand the passion, but I also understand that name calling does not convince anyone of your arguments, even if it does make you feel better.

My game plan, if I do get embroiled in a conversation about politics, is to focus on the issues that I care about and make my case for them, rather than engage in arguments about people and personalities.  This should be effective, as long as I can control myself in the face of my family saying some pretty wacky stuff (at best).

Can’t divorce your family… but that’s what makes them precious.

One shared meal is actually the easy part.  Because I need to somehow not let my extreme distaste for my family’s political views harm our relationships.  I have an easier time doing this with my parents.  It is harder with my contemporaries.  But we all only have one family. They are not disposable or exchangeable.  Which is why they are so important.  Friends can be ditched.  Spouses, divorced.  But the people whose blood and history you share are irreplaceable.

I have seen families torn apart by less, with each side retreating to their corners, consumed in negativity, hard feelings and contempt.  No matter how offended I am by the values they seem to espouse, I do not write people off.  Especially family.

What happens when you make a judgement about the character of your closest family members and it’s not good?  Is it possible to summon all your effort to simply look past it?  I hope so.  I will call on the emotions that are tied to my deep, profound memories of childhood, and the bonds of blood.

If it isn’t enough, there’s always that tried and true method for making your family tolerable: copious amounts of alcohol.

Happy Thanksgiving!

  • I love my extended family, but many of them have very different political views than mine and are not very tolerant of mine. We alternate years between my husband’s family and mine for Thanksgiving, and I’m kinda glad that this year we are with the in-laws rather than the outlaws. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • I was speaking with a close friend the other day about this very topic. Unfortunately her son stopped speaking to her and refuses to attend Thanksgiving due to their political differences. All I can think is surely, somehow, they can figure it out…agree to disagree? It’s family and families should not be divided by politics (though I realize this is easier said than done this year).

    We made it through an early Thanksgiving without incident – just because it wasn’t discussed much. No accusations, no arguing (but there was alcohol – maybe that helped?!).

    • Alcohol is critical! That is sad about your friend’s son. Does he have children? I think your attitudes change a great deal when you do. No matter how upset I am, I would never miss the opportunity for my children to see their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents and I would never want to leave them with the impression that those bonds are unimportant. I had such a rich and big family life growing up and I cherish the memories of it. I can’t give that to my children, but I can at least make sure they see their family and know that there are many people in the world who love them, aside from their parents. That is something that is important to me.

  • Oh – I didn’t realize we were family?! You must be getting ready to sit at the same table as me this year. 😉

    I have already decided that my political views are not welcome to be heard (as shown in previous occasions) and therefor choose not to engage. This may be the first holiday I will be happy to talk about work as a diversion from the rest of the insanity that is sure to ensue. In the end it doesn’t matter. This is family – warts and all. What I like to say when I do get stuck in these conversations is “I don’t have to be wrong for you to be right. ” We both have our opinions and we can agree to disagree….followed with “Pass the stuffing”. 🙂

    • Ha! I think there are a lot of us out there! Yes, the key is DO NOT ENGAGE. I have some mega-trolls in my family and I am determined not to give them the satisfaction. I will be hiding in the basement with my husband and all the children! -Linda

  • I’ve got a couple of family members that always seem to get me stirred up over political conversations, no matter how many times I tell myself “Don’t initiate, don’t initiate”. Actually, that’s probably my wife telling me that 🙂
    This may sound naive, but one thing that has made this easier to deal with, aside from blocking their posts on Facebook, was reading recently that our political views are genetically wired to some degree. Not sure if that’s true. Now, that doesn’t excuse or explain the abhorrent behaviour of our politicians, but I’ve also learned not to put faith in politicians of any stripe. I wish I didn’t have reason for such skepticism.

    Happy Thanksgiving Linda, hang in there! 🙂

  • Your post reminded me of my father-he’s very passionate politically with views that are opposite of mine, and he’s not good at expressing himself in a composed way (to put it politely). I actually have made a rule that I will not discuss politics with him. In fact I will just ignore him and walk away if he tries to start. Instead, I focus on pie. Delicious pie!

  • Don’t engage is easier said than done. But I have a few suggestions. First of all, don’t reply to comments. You only need to speak when asked a question directly. And if you’re asked an annoying question, or something you don’t want to get into, turn it around. Smile sweetly and say “Why do you ask?”. Let them continue to yammer on about their point of view. People who want to talk politics but are not open to other people’s views really don’t need conversation. They’re happy to do monologues. They just need an audience. That’s when you reach for the alcohol or say “Excuse me but I must go to the bathroom.” Can’t argue with that.

    1. Mrs. Groovy 02:52pm 22 November - 2016 - Reply

      Don’t engage is easier said than done. But I have a few suggestions. First of all, don’t reply to comments. You only need to speak when asked a question directly. And if you’re asked an annoying question, or something you don’t want to get into, turn it around. Smile sweetly and say “Why do you ask?”. Let them continue to yammer on about their point of view. People who want to talk politics but are not open to other people’s views really don’t need conversation. They’re happy to do monologues. They just need an audience. That’s when you reach for the alcohol or say “Excuse me but I must go to the bathroom.” Can’t argue with that.

      • Brooklyn Bread 03:38pm 22 November - 2016 - Reply

        Extremely wise words Mrs. Groovy. You are so right. My sister lives in an extremely large home, so if all else fails, I just plan to hide in one of her living rooms.

    2. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer 06:54am 22 November - 2016 - Reply

      Your post reminded me of my father-he’s very passionate politically with views that are opposite of mine, and he’s not good at expressing himself in a composed way (to put it politely). I actually have made a rule that I will not discuss politics with him. In fact I will just ignore him and walk away if he tries to start. Instead, I focus on pie. Delicious pie!

    3. Mystery Money Man 11:22pm 21 November - 2016 - Reply

      I’ve got a couple of family members that always seem to get me stirred up over political conversations, no matter how many times I tell myself “Don’t initiate, don’t initiate”. Actually, that’s probably my wife telling me that 🙂
      This may sound naive, but one thing that has made this easier to deal with, aside from blocking their posts on Facebook, was reading recently that our political views are genetically wired to some degree. Not sure if that’s true. Now, that doesn’t excuse or explain the abhorrent behaviour of our politicians, but I’ve also learned not to put faith in politicians of any stripe. I wish I didn’t have reason for such skepticism.

      Happy Thanksgiving Linda, hang in there! 🙂

      • Brooklyn Bread 09:26am 22 November - 2016 - Reply

        Thank you MMM – Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! xo – Linda

    4. Miss Mazuma 01:04pm 21 November - 2016 - Reply

      Oh – I didn’t realize we were family?! You must be getting ready to sit at the same table as me this year. 😉

      I have already decided that my political views are not welcome to be heard (as shown in previous occasions) and therefor choose not to engage. This may be the first holiday I will be happy to talk about work as a diversion from the rest of the insanity that is sure to ensue. In the end it doesn’t matter. This is family – warts and all. What I like to say when I do get stuck in these conversations is “I don’t have to be wrong for you to be right. ” We both have our opinions and we can agree to disagree….followed with “Pass the stuffing”. 🙂

      • Brooklyn Bread 01:36pm 21 November - 2016 - Reply

        Ha! I think there are a lot of us out there! Yes, the key is DO NOT ENGAGE. I have some mega-trolls in my family and I am determined not to give them the satisfaction. I will be hiding in the basement with my husband and all the children! -Linda

    5. Amanda @ centsiblyrich 11:31am 21 November - 2016 - Reply

      I was speaking with a close friend the other day about this very topic. Unfortunately her son stopped speaking to her and refuses to attend Thanksgiving due to their political differences. All I can think is surely, somehow, they can figure it out…agree to disagree? It’s family and families should not be divided by politics (though I realize this is easier said than done this year).

      We made it through an early Thanksgiving without incident – just because it wasn’t discussed much. No accusations, no arguing (but there was alcohol – maybe that helped?!).

      • Brooklyn Bread 01:33pm 21 November - 2016 - Reply

        Alcohol is critical! That is sad about your friend’s son. Does he have children? I think your attitudes change a great deal when you do. No matter how upset I am, I would never miss the opportunity for my children to see their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents and I would never want to leave them with the impression that those bonds are unimportant. I had such a rich and big family life growing up and I cherish the memories of it. I can’t give that to my children, but I can at least make sure they see their family and know that there are many people in the world who love them, aside from their parents. That is something that is important to me.

    6. Emily @ JohnJaneDoe 09:31am 21 November - 2016 - Reply

      I love my extended family, but many of them have very different political views than mine and are not very tolerant of mine. We alternate years between my husband’s family and mine for Thanksgiving, and I’m kinda glad that this year we are with the in-laws rather than the outlaws. Happy Thanksgiving!

      • Brooklyn Bread 09:50am 21 November - 2016 - Reply

        Same to you Emily! At least we can all agree on stuffing! -Linda xo

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