Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared two years ago. But Turkey Day is an annual event, and those brittle liberal relatives who can’t even say “pass the asparagus” without sounding like they’re shouting into a bullhorn will always be with us. Have a blessed Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is upon us, and so are the seemingly endless articles about the dread of meeting politically incompatible relatives across the dinner table and [shudder] actually conversing with them. Call it the insufferable encountering the unimpressed.
For most of American history, we’ve managed this discomfiture by acting like adults, being civil and avoiding whiney, entitled moral preening. (Sports and alcohol don't hurt either.) But the left has succeeded in its quest to make the personal political. Heck, there’s ideological significance in whether your yams are locally sourced, your spinach is organic and the provenance of the turkey you serve (or don’t – Tofurkey having become a thing some years back.)
Now we need help navigating the perilous space between the Lions game and when Uncle Ralph sobers up enough to drive home. Articles proliferate, and not just from the left. Still, liberals love their “experts,” and it’s hard not to be amazed at the parade of credentialed busy-bodies who would tell us how to interact over cranberry sauce and green bean casserole.
CBS goes right to the big guns, consulting “Dr. Steven Berkowitz, associate professor of clinical psychiatry and director of the Penn Center for Youth and Family Trauma Response and Recovery, at the University of Pennsylvania.” (Some problems are just too intractable for the Butterball Line.) Berkowitz recommends establishing “ground rules” ahead of time.
CBS also suggests avoiding relatives who may “trigger you.”
‘If you you’re more liberal, for example, do you really want to engage in a conversation with conservative Uncle Bob? It’s oftentimes not worth the effort,” Ken Yeager, director of the Stress, Trauma and Resilience Program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told CBS News.
You may want to avoid it to the point of staying home, according to The Washington Post (marketing slogan: “If you don’t hate it, you don’t get it”).
Remaining silent or canceling a trip home is, in some cases, a sensible route. “If you are absolutely raw, are going to pieces, don’t trust your family and don’t trust yourself, maybe this isn’t a good time to gamble with your family relationships,” said conflict resolution specialist Andra Medea.
Besides, your eight cats can’t feed themselves.
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If you do manage to steel yourself for dinner at Aunt Edna’s, the Post wants you to know that “psychotherapist Dennis Tirch suggests releasing the grip of anger, anxiety and disgust that the election has had on some of us. He says we should slow down during Thanksgiving and realize we are probably not in mortal, physical danger around our relatives and friends.” Probably not? Hey Tirch, until you’ve seen Grampa Joe down three scotches and re-enact his part in the Inchon Landing with a gravy ladle, don’t presume to tell me about mortal danger.
As helpful as all this is, nothing surpasses the New York Times handy list of “19 Questions to Ask Loved Ones Who Voted the Other Way.” The Times went to “Liz Joyner, the executive director of The Village Square, an organization that facilitates these kinds of intimate, difficult conversations.” (Seriously, The Times has her number, but it can’t seem to find a Trump voter?) Here’s a sampling of questions:
- Describe your relationship to me
- Are we close.
Depending on the answers to those two, you may want to make sure one of you hasn’t wandered into the wrong house.
7. Has it been difficult for you to talk to me about this election? If so, why?
Uh, cuz you were either screaming “Suck it, racist scum!” or collapsed in hysterical weeping.
- Do my views influence your politics at all?
No, but could I have some more of your tears for my coffee?
11. Do you think I’m sexist or racist?
18. What do you think we agree on?
19. Do you still like me?
Yes, it’s the smell of patchouli in your dreadlocks I can’t stand.
But, if by then you haven’t grabbed your plate and squeezed in at the kids’ table, you deserve everything you get.