Politics and the Holidays

Politics and the Holidays December 20, 2017

This has been quite a year in politics. To say that President Trump has been controversial is to say that water is wet. And he has earned every bit of that controversy. But even all of the drama seems to be minor in comparison to the recent Moore/Jones excitement in Alabama. Yeah it has been quite a year.

In a few days most of us will celebrate Christmas. In fact as you read this, you may already be on your way to your family’s homes or already there. One of the great things about Christmas is the chance to see family members you do not visit with that often. While that is often heartwarming it is also an opportunity discuss the political events of last year. To this, I offer this gentle advice. Unless you have a good relationship where such political banter can be done in good nature, then avoid politics in your conversations this Christmas.

Normally I think such avoidance is likely wise. But especially this year has been so contentious that political talk can be extremely volatile. There is a tendency, which has grown stronger this year, to demonize those with whom we disagree. The importance of keeping our relationships with our family strong is more vital to our happiness than winning a political argument. And do you think that winning a political argument is going to change the opinions of your family members anyway?

Look I get it. I am a never-Trumper and from my point of view my antipathy of Trump has been verified many times over. I still struggle with understanding why some voted for Trump. I would love to talk people around me into not supporting Trump, unless he starts acting more like the sort of president we need. But why would I subject other family members to my arguments? Why would I not use this time to draw closer to the family members I only get to see a few times a year? I won’t subject them to my political “wisdom” and fortunately the other members of my family generally feel the same way.

So if I am not looking forward to making political conversions, then what I am going to talk about with those at Christmas dinner? I want to know how things are going with their jobs, their health, and their kids. I want to engage in some of the common insider jokes we have developed. I want to belong to a community. I do not have to agree with everyone in that community. But I want to develop a relationship that tells them that I will be there for them and know that they will be there for me. To me this, and not political wrangling, is what Christmas dinner should be about.

Now some families have mastered the art of talking about politics in good fun. If this the is the case, then you have certain family norms that make such conversations ways to build, instead of tear down, relationships. My perspective on politics during the holidays probably does not apply to you.

And I do not want it to be said that we can never talk politics. There is a time and place for us to put our political opinions out there. For many people, it is facebook. While that venue has led to some unnecessary hostility from time to time, at least there you are usually not damaging important primary relationships. You can do that with arguing over the Christmas turkey.

So enjoy the next few days. Hug a neck or two. Have some Christmas grub. And don’t talk Trump.

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