Thanksgiving’s Post-Election Predicament


Graphic by Danielle Cuestas

Thanksgiving is a time of great food, family, and, of course, political debates among your closest friends and relatives. The best thing about all of this is that my family is rarely gathered for long, because we are dispersed all over the country. My brothers fly in from Philadelphia and we all go to a family friend’s house to come together. We have a great time for about the first ten minutes. After that we are left asking ourselves what to talk about, and from there we stumble upon politics. This may seem like an okay topic, but ultimately it is better left undiscussed with those you love. If political discussions have the ability to polarize a nation, imagine what they can do to a group of family and friends.

Part of the dynamic of Thanksgiving with my family and friends is that every year we meet new people. It is easy to befriend someone when they are not bashing your political opinions, but when you and two others are the only ones that share certain opinions at the “kid’s table,” (at which I was by far the youngest) things get uncomfortable fast. Our table somehow became a gradient of political opinions. The most liberal people were situated at one end and as we went down the line it became progressively more conservative. I was happily sitting listening to the bickering going on. One half of the table refused to even speak Donald Trump’s name, while the other half was beaming about his win. Naturally, there was a little bit of tension between these two sides.

Conflict at Thanksgiving has been relentlessly discussed, especially this year, with an election that has arguably caused the most uproar among Americans. Thanksgiving conversation has been the topic of social media, radio broadcasts, and has even been discussed by professionals on the news. The common consensus is that if you know there are going to be passionate disagreements, steer clear of the subject. As much as I would love to agree with this statement, I cannot entirely. While I do think we should steer clear of screaming at Thanksgiving dinner, we should not get into the habit of suppressing our opinions to avoid conflict.

In a calm setting, talking about politics is healthy and necessary. However, at Thanksgiving dinner, the election was the last thing I or anyone else wanted to discuss. Inevitably, the subject came about and as I watched a group of twenty-somethings argue about Donald Trump and his policies, I learned a fairly useful life skill: the ability to watch conflict, but not partake in it. As everyone argued, they only became more entrenched in their own opinions and more blind to the other side. So, while it is important to discuss politics, the place for it is certainly not over turkey and mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving dinner.