It hasn’t even been a month since Donald Trump lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College, and therefore has stepped us over into the Twilight Zone to become the president-elect of the USA. Eh, you know what? It’s not even a nightmarish other realm. It’s our very real, very current situation---a buildup of fear, selfishness, and just plain ignorance that translated to votes for Donny. And you couldn’t even scream "give him a chance" before he started to add known anti-Semitic and racist members to his cabinet, allowed his daughter to be a part of top-secret meetings and started tweeting about our 1st amendment right to protest.
But hey! The good news is that…the holidays are here. If your family is of the same political viewpoint as you, awesome! You might be able to have a great holiday, one where you talk about what you're thankful for this year. You might enjoy the stuffing and mashed potatoes and even try to inanely run around with a football, like some kind of lunatic. But if that’s not your situation--if you aren’t ready to deal with the family members who read TheSmartConservative.wow.us from Facebook links and now believe that every Muslim and Muslim-American is looking to eat their grandchildren, then that’s okay. It’s a dark cloud that’s over a lot of us right now, and reading the news over the course of these unusually hot November days - right before we swear in somebody who doesn’t believe in climate change - feels pretty bad. So I came up with a few tips to help you get through this holiday season, just in case you need it:
1. . Donate
If you have the money, use your money for some good. Donate to an organization that you believe does good work, like Planned Parenthood or the ACLU, right before you head out to see the family. If you’re not ready to get into everything with them, or you’re too scared to for whatever reason, then at least you know you’ve done something that helps. And if you want to be extra and announce at the table that you made a donation in the family name, then I would certainly not do anything but cheer to that.
2. . Bring A Vegetarian Or Vegan Dish
We should all be very serious about reducing our carbon footprint, considering the North Pole is 36 degrees warmer than usual right now. That is a very frightening statistic. And with Trump known for being less than environmentally friendly, considering that he picked a climate change denier for his EPA team…it would be in our best interest to do some things to slow the inevitable down. And eating less meat and dairy is a great start. So, if you’re asked to bring something: try roasting some Brussels sprouts with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Or try any of these vegan ideas. Try to reduce your intake, and turn off the television when you’re eating dinner.
3. . Come Prepared
If you don’t want to stay silent, you certainly don’t have to. Prepare a calm, concise “get this off my chest” speech if the inevitable comes up. Tell them that you love them but you don’t support their vote, and let them know briefly why you feel that way. You can make it personal ('I’m gay, and I’m sad you supported a vice-president who believes in conversion therapy,' or 'I’m a woman, and I’m sad you supported a candidate who is anti-choice')-- but you don't have to. This stuff feels really uncomfortable sometimes, because unless your family is openly sexist or racist, they probably don’t look at themselves as hateful people. But it’s okay to say you’re disappointed in them and that you feel the need to bring it up. And also be prepared for this: if you feel like it’s not safe for you to be outspoken, don’t be outspoken. Hold your tongue and if you can, ask somebody you trust beforehand to keep the politics to a minimum. But if you can, and the only reason why you don’t want to speak out is because you are nervous to, please try.
4. . Step Out Of Your Own Comfort Zone
I’ll say it again. Be uncomfortable. We all need to be uncomfortable nowadays. Times are tough, but the truth is this: if you want to bring about change, you have to make yourself get used to discomfort. I’ve done the whole “no need to get into it” thing before, and it doesn’t work. It certainly doesn’t work anymore. And if your family says they love you, they will listen to what you have to say. There’s really not more to it. It’s up to all of us to be well-informed and outspoken to what is happening, and there’s nothing wrong with stating your point and beliefs and backing them up with facts. There’s nothing wrong with saying how you feel and trying to teach people to see your side of things. Your family should be able to put aside a little of their discomfort, too. You may not change any minds, but you might.
5. . Don't Go If You Don't Want To
If all of this is too much for you, you don’t have to go. You do not have to go. It’s okay to step out of situations you don’t want to handle or because you need to regroup. Plane tickets can be cancelled, even if you're out some money. You can take a knee on this one if you’re not ready to face it. But if you are ready, you can do it. You can have a good holiday and still leave feeling like you weren’t silent. And if you were already feeling like the holiday will be terrible regardless? You might as well speak out.