Reflections on Thanksgiving dinner 2016, post Trump’s election


Thanksgiving 2016 was polarized around many family tables, when millions of Republicans celebrated the election of President Donald J. Trump as the next president of the United States, while their more liberal relatives were still licking their wounds.

My personal holiday tradition involves juggling two to three turkeys and over a dozen sides as my three siblings and I converge on my parents’ home, kids and spouses in tow.

Last year, my more conservative relatives hummed with a suppressed joy after the election. But, for the most part, we avoided political conversation for the sake of familial peace.

In my family, our political views differ even between those that consider themselves Republicans. Subjects such as the border wall, the president’s Twitter use, and school choice can garner different responses. The Democrats may lean toward conservative values, and the Republicans may appreciate social freedoms, but we don’t get irreversibly angry or heated.

According to a new study, that isn’t always the case for politically-opposed families. The study found that family members with opposing views spent up to a half hour less time together last Thanksgiving, post-election. And the election didn’t only drive wedges between people who identify with opposing parties: It was also generational.

More “mature” members of my own large family tended to side with Trump, while twice-failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton drew the sympathies of my youngest relatives. Still stung by the loss just weeks before, they were not keen on discussing the election results.

Some families did not avoid the topic. According to UCLA professor Keith Chen and Washington State University professor Ryne Rohla, families lost an estimated 27 million hours to “cross-partisan Thanksgiving discourse.” Those conversations may be the reason the study found a decrease in the amount of time some families spent together.

Personally, my family spent a little more time together last year than normal. After the turkey was carved and the chestnut dressing was gone, we played Pictionary…, because it can’t be politics all the time. I will admit that after we served the pie, though, I freely shared my favorite meme from election night. Enjoy!

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