Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

How can we plan a family Thanksgiving when everyone is traumatized by the
recent elections? We are a surprisingly diverse family in terms of or political
views. My side was raised as knee-jerk liberals but some of the cousins (whom I
will confess I do not like for this reason as well as others) voted for many (though
thankfully not all) Republicans. All summer they were coy when discussing their
vote, which of course just made me suspicious that they were doing what would
have our grandparents spinning in their graves. I was a nervous wreck for
months. You know what’s going on out there, from threats of militias and
impeachment to people swearing they are going to leave the country. I know we
cannot put the genie back in the bottle, but is there any way to have a family
holiday that will not rupture on the very dysfunctional ship of state? I’m tempted
to only invite the people who agree with me, but I recognize that’s as divisive and
polarizing as opposition pols who swear they will be obstructionist for the next
millennium or two. Helllpppppp!!!!


Dear PTSD-ed:

If we cannot heal families we are going to have a helluva time healing a country. I
too cannot remember an election that felt this divisive and that had so many
people binge-eating, hysterical with hyperbole and fear, depressed and anxious,
and un-friending friends and relatives at a rate that would make Einstein
reevaluate his theories. We’ve all lived through “this is the most important
election of our lifetimes” more often than I want to count. But this one was a
colossal disaster in so many ways that I hope America never repeats it. I still
have hopes (fantasies?) that democracy will raise her weary head and enough
people of reason will say Enough!! But that will have to start with each of us.

You should not un-invite or not-invite relatives who you might otherwise share the
holiday with. You can impose some rules for social interactions and distribute
them before the day. They should be unambiguous and even-handed, but most
importantly enforced. If you say you are going to fine anyone who talk about
politics, disparages candidates and their supporter, etc, then be prepared to do it.
Ditto if you say you will toss someone unceremoniously for rudeness. Having a
strict policy might cause a permanent rift, so be forewarned. Better would be to
set aside some specific period to go around the room and have everyone share
their feelings without crosstalk, then try to continue with family as usual. Try to
avoid the Thanksgiving disaster in the classic film Avalon, where brothers fight,
and one chases the other into the street waving a drumstick; sadly, they lose five
decades of familial caring.