Thanksgiving, the great American gathering. For decades, the politically minded have dreaded this post-election holiday which challenges them to reach across the aisle and deconstruct what it means to be American with their right-wing relatives. The discourse over mashed potatoes hasn’t been this divided since President Obama won a second term, and even then, the worst that most endured were rants about Obamacare and the coming death panels. Two years ago, those same relatives were calling victims of police brutality “thugs” and now they’re coming to the dinner table with a sense of supremacy (white supremacy).
It’s hard to understand how white supremacy could reign supreme at Thanksgiving (provided you ignore America’s history of massacring indigenous people and focus on the food alone). Afterall, white meat is the worst part of the bird. It’s dry, it’s bland, dark meat ought to reign supreme, I digress but keep this metaphor in your back pocket in case things get testy.
For those who choose not to opt out of tense family gatherings, survival will rely largely on prayer. Sure, prayer didn’t prevent a Trump presidency, but small miracles are still possible.
In the worst case scenario you may be celebrating at a conservative relative’s house, and that’s fine, remember, the house holds no political beliefs no matter how many Trump signs are in the front yard (and if you accidentally happen to hit one as you back out of the driveway, no one will mind, the election’s already over). As an aunt helps you with your coat and whispers “this is your first time in a Trump supporter’s house” don’t take the bait. This is the first step to proving your resilience. Smile and nod and don’t lose sight of the fact that Trump has been appointing white supremacists to his cabinet, the fact that you’re related to his supporters will not normalize the monstrous things he’s about to do. From here, navigate away from politics as quickly as humanly possible, for once it will be a blessing when relatives ask what you’re doing after high school/college, when will have a girlfriend, or what are you going to do with an art major. Breathe a sigh of relief that your lack of life choices is the chosen topic of conversation as opposed to dismissing sexual assault as locker room talk.
While killing time before dinner, remember that dogs are truly man’s best friend, as are cats, or in this instance anything incapable of forming a complete sentence. Human’s have been disregarding one another to play with pets and toddlers for centuries and that tradition isn’t about to stop. How cold is outside? 36 degrees? That’s just above freezing, perfect for fetch! Get to know your family member’s beloved pet and they’ll call you when the Turkey’s ready.
No matter how experienced your uncle may be, offer to carve the turkey. You are the best insurance that no one will slice a racial epithet into the side of a pheasant. Compliment every item of food, go in depth, remember to keep them talking about anything but the election. The most important thing is to stay strong. At times the conversation may veer into pop culture and no matter how much you think American Horror Story is trash TV, that opinion is far easier for some to stomach than the fact that we made Trash-TV our President-elect.
As coversations come to a lull, pray that someone brings up football. Sure, you’ve never watched the sport, but you’re desperate and fortunately in the home stretch. The name of the game for this last hour is distraction, like Mike Pence attending Hamilton except not like that because your cousin still can’t wrap his brain around a black George Washington. Stay calm, practice deep breaths and as soon as someone utters the phrase “radical Islam” quietly excuse yourself to use the bathroom, and jump out the second window to safety of the concrete driveway below.