Ask Abby: How to Thanksgiving with your family post-election

Graphic by Haley Morkert.

ABIGAIL PLUFF | OPINION COLUMNIST | apluff@butler.edu

Full disclosure: I am not a licensed therapist. Honestly, I am not licensed in anything whatsoever, besides to operate a motorized vehicle. I’m just a gal with lots of opinions who enjoys giving unsolicited advice to almost anyone around me. So, if this is adverse advice, you can’t sue me or my place of work. Sorry!

“My family and I have very different political beliefs, and because the election just happened I’m starting to get nervous about Thanksgiving. What are we going to talk about? How can we connect when we’re so different?” — Loyal Reader

In my family, it’s no secret what I think, politically or otherwise. Anyone that knows me knows I am what one might call a “chronic over-sharer.” I’m willing to tell anyone anything about myself, and never back down from an opportunity to make my opinions known. 

Hence, this column. Insert wink here. 

The holiday season can still be tough, though, even for someone as open as me. Not everyone I’m around during the holidays agrees with me on certain issues. It’s hard to decide if it’s more important to foster family unity over mashed potatoes or spark discord as I casually grab the salt shaker sitting in front of my mother. These dilemmas don’t have easy answers, especially because every family is different. However, here’s my best shot:

If you’re physically and emotionally safe with your family, I think that you can say whatever you want — as long as your grandmother is comfortable with it, of course. It’s important to note that not everyone is safe at their dinner table. In that case, I think you should skip your family’s Thanksgiving and come to my Friendsgiving instead. It’s Bring Your Own Mask, and there will be more than enough food to go around. Fair warning though, if a Thanksgiving dinner that is both gluten- and meat-free is more offensive to you than your distant cousins’ political beliefs, you may just want to bite the bullet and go home instead. 

If you do decide to go home and you come from a vocal family, feel free to keep those idea-sharing traditions alive, even if Uncle Brad doesn’t agree. It’ll add a little spice to everyone’s life… and believe me, Thanksgiving could always use a bit of extra spice.

For those of us who have several family members that don’t quite agree with our political ideologies, it can be frustrating to attempt to educate everyone and over-fill our bellies at the same time. For my part, I plan to keep as quiet as I possibly can. 

Just kidding. That’s impossible! I’ll be gloating over appetizers, the main course and dessert. And the pie is going to be so much more fulfilling than it has been the past four years. I’ll deal with the consequences on Black Friday.

If your family has always been one to ignore politics around the dinner table, there’s definitely something to be said for that. Keeping the peace is more important than anything else in some families, and I think that should be preserved if it’s something your family values. Table your opinions —  ha, get it? —  and bring them out again at a different time. Maybe wait until, say, New Years! Nothing fans the political flame like a cheap bottle of bubbly. 

Thanksgiving can be whatever you need it to be in the current political climate. There is no right or wrong way to do it, whether you decide to speak up or stay silent until it’s no longer a holiday. We’ll get through this, and everything else, together. 

You are valuable, valid and loved, especially throughout the holiday season,

Abby

If you have a question that you’d like to see discussed in Ask Abby, feel free to contact me via email, carrier pigeon or telepathy.

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