Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Holidays, Families, and Fairness

by Miki Kashtan

One “secret” about me that is quite well known to those who know me is that I actually know very little about mainstream media - television, most magazines, celebrities, and the like. So it would hopefully come as not too much of a shock to my readers that until today I didn’t know of the existence of Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, one of the better known advice columnists on the web. I became introduced when Dave Belden, who offers all manner of support with my creative projects (if you love the pictures on this blog, he’s the one who selects them, for example), sent me an exchange from her column and urged me to write a post about it.

Holiday Family Dinners

The exchange, which I copy below in its entirety (excerpted from this week’s Dear Prudence column), relates to the perennial challenge of political differences during holiday family dinners:

Q. Maybe a Not-So-Happy Thanksgiving?: I am recently married, and will be spending Thanksgiving with my new in-laws. They are a very, ultra conservative group and dislike our president. I, however, voted for him, and have tried to stay away from the political banter. My sister-in-law recently sent my husband a message asking if I was a "closet" Obama supporter. Quite honestly, it's none of her business, but I took it upon myself to respond to her directly instead of through my husband. I know she has told his family that I support Obama, and I know it will be an issue at Thanksgiving (we live four hours away from them). Luckily, my husband is amazingly supportive and has stated that he will stand by me no matter what. I'm just not sure how to handle his family. Thank you, I don't want a fight.
A: The answer to are you a "closet" Obama supporter is no, because you are a proud and open Obama supporter. You are also right that your political views are none of their business, unless they want to make it so. You and your husband need to plan this out before the assault on mashed potato hill. If you start being goaded you can say, "I know it's painful when your candidate loses, so let's talk about more pleasant things." Or, "I'm happy to discuss the issues, but probably everyone's digestion will be better if we don't." Ignore the random Obama put-downs—during them you can recite to yourself, "Yeah, and that's 332 electoral college votes for my guy." If it becomes intolerable your husband should be prepared to interject that it's time the subject got changed, and then ask what teams people think are going to the Super Bowl.

I’ve been asked questions similar to the above dozens of times. So much so, that I dedicated a segment of the Conflict Hotline to addressing this topic. I’ve witnessed so much pain in people related to this topic, and I want to support people in finding solutions that truly allow the warmth of family to be primary instead of the bitterness of disagreements to prevail. I am doing a segment of a teleclass about it in December through the NVC Academy.