Salon did theirs. CNN was lamenting it this morning. How on earth can we talk to our families, people we have known and loved our entire lives after this election? Clearly because politics is all consuming, it appears there is absolutely no way to get through a celebratory meal without opening the door to acrimony? Amirite?
Pardon my language, but bullshit. Or don't. I write about politics, have done a weekly political podcast for two years and chat about politics all day on my social media feeds. I call myself a policy wonk and you know what? I have absolutely no intention of discussing politics at all during the holiday season. None. Here's my prescription for a politics free family gathering.
First, if your lesser snowflake has such a grip on you that you truly believe you can not enjoy a meal with family and friends who may have voted differently than you without having some kind of breakdown, stay home. Get a sudden case of the flu. Same goes if you are feeling so triumphant that you can't get through a meal without lording your victory over your Progressive cousin. There is no reason to ruin everyone else's day and in the long run, your clan will thank you.
Next, if you feel you can exert some modicum of self control, rely on the the massive amounts of food and drink laid out on Thanksgiving. Whenever you feel the urge to bring up the election, the transition or the media, stuff something in your mouth and chew slowly. Very slowly. Or pour a drink. I recommend the non-alcoholic variety in this instance as you don't want your crazy uncle to have to drive you home.
I am lucky. Very lucky in fact. My family is full of young children who are by nature apolitical. Unless it's one of those eight year old girls we heard about all over social media. Sit down on the floor and play with them Be an awesome aunt, cousin, friend or grandparent and be in the moment with a kiddo. Read them a story. Dress a politically incorrect Barbie and lose yourself in make-believe. Play a game of hide and seek, grab the Playstation remotes or grab a soccer ball. Seriously, if you can't keep your political self in check while reading Go, Dog, Go for the tenth time or during a fierce Mario Kart tournament, you need therapy.
I am not so lucky, in that I have lost the members of my family that hail from the Greatest Generation. However, I have very fond memories of pulling out photo albums and other memorabilia on holidays and sharing stories and memories. Holidays are how my kids learned how their grandparents met, how they grew up and how I learned about my heritage. It is also when I pull my big sister card and tell my nieces and nephews all the stupid things their parents did as kids. As the oldest child my memory is longer and far more specific and I love watching my siblings squirm. The downside is my mother's memory is longer than mine and she returns the favor.
Help in the kitchen. If you are not hosting the meal offer help get items prepared and ready to eat. As the matriarch who has presided over dozens of holiday dinners, another perk of being the oldest child, I can attest that even incompetent help is appreciated. Peel something, chop something or plate the appetizers.
When you sit down to eat, refer to the second recommendation. Keep your mouth full and chew slowly. Nod and smile and if someone brings up politics ask them to pass the butter. There are very few things in life mashed potatoes can't heal and they can always use more butter.
After dinner, do something else. If you like to shop deals arrange a trip to get the Black Friday deals offered on Thanksgiving night. Grab a thermos full of coffee and a lawn chair and join the masses outside of Best Buy. It's like a party. Go to a movie. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them just opened. Grab the kiddos, go munch on some popcorn and geek out. Play a game. Depending on how much wine has been consumed, my family will generally engage in Trivial Pursuit or Uno. Do not let a teen relative talk everyone into Cards Against Humanity. Grandma will not get it and think you are all heathens.
If an amazing meal and a gathering of family and friends can't be survived with the above suggestions, I don't know what to tell you other than seek help immediately. That kind of obsession is unhealthy and concerning. Think of election 2016 as the ex you just can't forget and find a professional to help you work through it. Don't let your psychosis ruin everyone else's tryptophan coma.