At the start of Thanksgiving break last year, I was excited. I was looking forward to spending the holiday with my uncle, cousins and grandpa, despite the tedious two-hour drive to Sacramento.
Sitting around a cramped table with family, re-connecting over roast turkey and steaming plates of mashed potatoes and talking with my cousins about what we had to be thankful for has always been a pleasant experience. But this year, my excitement has been replaced with fear. I am frightened and worried about sitting down with my loved ones at the table, because I know that side of my family despises Hillary Clinton and are jubilant about Trump and his hateful rhetoric.
Even though most of California is reliably Democratic, my mom’s side of the family lives in the Central Valley, an area that makes up a vast majority of the Republican population in California, according to the Public Policy Institute of America. Central Valley and the greater Sacramento area are 60 percent Republican, of which my relatives represent the majority in this demographic statistic. While they have always been committed conservatives, Trump’s presidency has given their opinions legitimacy. This now gives them the opportunity to gloat about Trump after years of having their viewpoints eclipsed by an eight year Democrat presidency.
Two Thanksgiving dinner horror scenarios have been playing in my mind. In one version, I explode in response to a comment, flinging profanities and long tirades about why a Trump presidency is an awful one, thereby disowning my own family members. In another, I excuse myself from the dinner table and find a spare room to cry in, while my relatives praise Trump for his ideals. Even though family squabbles are often part of the holiday get-together experience, neither scenario is one that I would want to face. My idea of Thanksgiving involves taking the time to set aside differences in order to be thankful for one another, not inciting hurtful arguments.
While this may sound melodramatic, these reactions aren’t unreasonable, considering that it is appalling to me how people who I call family believe it is wonderful to have a president who thinks it is okay to “grab women by the pussy.” It will be hard for me to sit down with them knowing this reveals that the stark divide between the ideals of race, gender and equality that exists in America is embodied in my own family.
Avidan Milevsky, an associate professor of psychology from Kuztown University, explained in an Al Jazeera article that the “vitriol in the political system” is helping to contribute to “a level of tension that is clearing impacting family dynamics in destructive ways.” An ABC News poll recently found that approximately 40 percent of Americans claimed that opinions on the 2016 presidential election has incited “tension” between family and friends.
This family tension first started during the primaries when my grandpa suggested that he wouldn’t call my mother his daughter anymore if she voted for Hillary, he also said that if someone like Obama would be elected then he would move to Canada.
Whether or not he was being serious, these conversations have created a tension that has reached a tipping point. Now my immediate family are the ones saying that we’ll move to Canada now that Trump is elected.
While I usually try to respect others’ opinions, I’m worried that I will cause more strain to the family on Thanksgiving by not being able to respect my family’s beliefs. People may say that respecting other’s viewpoints is important and fair, especially within a family dynamic, but I just can’t stomach our president elect’s hateful message.