Surviving Thanksgiving with a divided family

By Breanne Williams, Columnist
On November 20, 2016

A sketch on Saturday Night Live mocked divided family members by advising them to play “Hello” by Adele to ease the tension on Thanksgiving. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Every year, students find themselves returning home for the holidays to atmospheres that often contradict the views many hold dear. While normal Thanksgivings consist of drunken uncles, grandmothers dissecting your social life and annoying cousins, Thursday assures to make previous years seem like a cakewalk. 

The 2016 presidential election has created an ever-growing divide in this nation, and few families were left unscathed. The New York Times stated Tuesday that some were canceling the holiday altogether to avoid the conflict. However, avoiding those with a different opinion in the sake of forgoing a headache is not the way to handle the next four years. 

The obvious answer for a peaceful holiday would be to avoid politics completely, but realistically that is not going to be an option. Instead, remember to channel tolerance. Regardless of whom you voted for. It’s important to recognize that millions of Americans share the belief of those who are goading you into an argument. 

Hillary Clinton received 63,541,056 votes as of Nov. 19, and Trump won 61,864,015 votes. Yes, a large portion of the country more than likely agrees with your stances, however an equally large group does not. 

Think of Thanksgiving as a trial run of learning how the other side thinks. Decipher why they voted the way they did. Ultimately, you may even learn something from the experience you had been blind to before.

So when your uncle shouts, “You’re cold hearted if you’re not a Democrat as a college student and an idiot if you’re not a Republican when you grow up,” across the table, practice that fake smile that will get you through many uncomfortable meetings in your future career. 

This is not a science-fiction utopia. We don’t live in a bubble. Leave the Bernie Sanders T-shirts at home and go watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with your aunt and uncle. 

Both liberals and conservatives have been brutal in their stereotyping of the other side this election, and if we can’t come together over the holidays when joy and compassion should be at the forefront of our minds, we will see four years of greater divide and escalating tensions.

Not everyone who voted for Trump is a misogynist or racist. In fact, most are kind people who were worried about the economy and job creation. 

Not every Clinton supporter is in favor of heavy government control and wants everything in life handed to them. Most simply place a greater weight on fighting injustice and ensuring equality for people of all walks of life. 

If you plan on engaging this Thanksgiving, take a moment to prepare. Review your stances. Recall the statistics and stories that made you decide one candidate was stronger than the other. 

At the end of the day, this is your family. Smile and don’t disparage them for their stances. Keep a cool head, and above all, don’t allow yourself to be baited. 

Be prepared for yelling, but remember that volume does not equate to truth. No matter how much you love your family, instead of a day of being thankful, this Thursday will more than likely be six hours full of disappointment. 

And as tempting as it is to numb the toxicity of the evening with another beer or a glass, or four, of whiskey, remember what’s important: Black Friday is just hours away, and if you’re drunk, you’re going to miss out on some amazing deals.

 

Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications. 

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