Make this as difficult as possible

We are going to lose so much. The deck is stacked against us and we cannot win everything, or even most things. We are going to lose things we didn’t even realize were things.

But.

188 million adults in this country didn’t vote for Trump and Trumpism. And we can make it as difficult as possible–at every step–for them to steal from us.

With each other, especially with the most vulnerable, sow peace. Be kinder. Be sweeter. Scaffold each other.

But with Trumpists and those who are trying to destroy us, resist at every step. Punch with closed fist. Laugh while you draw blood. Make it as long and drawn-out and expensive as possible for them to steal from you.

If you’re Gen X, be a cockroach. If you’re Millennial, be a unicorn. We’ll go high and low at the same time to make them fight a two-front war, while you Boomers be show ponies and kick them in the kidneys.

There are jobs for everyone. You don’t have to do all of them. Harass your politicians. Raise disobedient children. Be queer as fuck. Make a lot of money. Go bald with confidence. Be kind to your employees. Run for office. Organize people. Be loyal to youself. Don’t give evil a pass.

Be difficult.

Be incredibly, stubbornly, exquisitely difficult.

All my love,

Magda

Gen X, we have to talk

You guys, we’ve been sold a line, for our entire lives. Told something about ourselves that wasn’t true then and isn’t true now.

For the most part, the Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers have been lying to themselves about us and to us for 50 years. From the time we were born we were told we couldn’t do anything important. That we were too spoiled and unambitious and wan to be trusted. We’d be lucky if we could manage to get jobs or finish college, and we should be grateful for anything they let us have. We were told this by our Boomer parents, who seemed to be chronically annoyed that we weren’t them, so they gaslighted us about not having “lived,” like they did, through Vietnam and Woodstock and LSD (and then selling out and settling down, but they never talked about that).

They expected nothing from us, and told us not to expect anything from ourselves. The most we could hope for was cleverness and rebellion, a la Ferris Bueller. But real leadership was for them, not us.

Despite that, we’ve lived. We got jobs and finished school, and even though we’ll never have the same standard of living our parents did (because their racist labor and tax policies gutted the middle class) we’ve become responsible adults, good parents, engaged community members, experts in our fields. We just don’t talk about it, because we don’t know we’re good at any of this. We think we’re just getting by, slinking through and holding everything together. Reality still bites, in our minds, even though we are doing things our parents and grandparents never could have imagined doing.

And that internalized gaslighting has overflowed onto the Milennials behind us. While the Boomers were telling us we couldn’t do shit, Milennials were growing up being handed participation trophies just for showing up (talk about confusing) and left to their own devices (talk about lonely). They grew up without a horizon. So they formed communities of friends and learned not to trust what adults told them about themselves. Where we learned helplessness, they checked out of the system. Now they’re a powerful combination of capable and cynical, and we’re unnerved by the fact that they aren’t afraid to speak up. We were trained to be afraid to stick our heads up, and we’re freaked out that Milennials weren’t monitored closely enough to learn to shut up and bow their heads. Boomers just woke up to the fact that they hadn’t criticized them enough, so they’re spreading the myth that Milennials are spoiled and difficult to work with and unrealistic. And since we’re perplexed by Milennials’ lack of fear, we’re buying into this negative hype about Milennials, too.

We can’t. We shouldn’t. They didn’t do anything but play the hands they were dealt, just as we did. What we have to do is realize that the entire game has changed. Those two generations ahead of us have screwed all of us over so completely that the only people who can save the world are us and the Milennials. We can. But we have to do what no one ever did for us, which is give ourselves permission to lead.

Gen X, I’m asking you for a few things. Here they are:

1. Know your strengths. We are the generation who has been kicked every day in the same spot and then called weak if we cry. We are bruised and raw but we wake up every day and do this thing, over and over and over. We’re the cockroaches of humanity. We’re always here. Four years is going to be a piece of cake for us.

2. Stick your head up. What do you know? What are you really good at? Do those things, unapologetically. Do those things, publicly. Step out into leadership, wherever you are. You do not need permission. Take it. Once you start leading, we will follow.

3. Protect and support Milennials. We have a lot of overlapping stresses but they were trained by default to turn outward to heal, while it was really only safe for us to curl into little balls so we wouldn’t be noticed. Not our fault, and not their faults. This optimism and faith in each other that they still have is precious, and we need to nurture it and put ourselves between them and harm. Protect their enthusiasm and creativity and lack of fear.

4. Think about roles. We are really good at adapting to flawed systems. Milennials are really good at ignoring systems and creating alterate paths. We’re huge knowledge and skill repositories. Milennials are aces at execution. We’ve been playing the long game since we were born. Milennials get things done now. Together we have everything we need.

5. Realize that there is no permanent record, and you’re the grownup. There’s no penalty for failure. There is no one you have to answer to except your children. Do what you want to do, big and loud and out in public. And bring everyone else with you, because none of us need to hide anymore. Our moral and spiritual and creative leaders died last year. The incoming President of the United States of America is an overgrown toddler none of us would trust to catsit. That means that you have all the authority in the world.

6. We need you. Step in.

All my love,

Magda

Take your shot

I’ve seen a lot of people lamenting that they never did enough to prevent the rise of Trump and Trumpism and white supremacy, and now they think it’s too late.

It’s not too late. We are resisting. And even if they do a lot of damage, we need to make it as difficult for them as possible. Wear them down. Make it cost them.

That means everyone needs to take their shot, whenever their shot shows up. Everyone doesn’t have the same access and opportunities, so work with what you have. There are a few politicians who are taking their shots by doing everything the power of their positions allows them to do to block Trump. Some of us have skills and professions that let us obstruct more than others do. For some of us, the shot is raising children to be critical-thinking freedom fighters. For some of us, the most we can do is call and send letters. Some of us write, paint, draw, make music as our shot. Whatever it is that you can do, do it.

Your shot is your shot. Whether it comes once, or every day.

I’m going to ask you specifically to consider running for office in 2017 or 2018. Is your local school system protecting kids who are being targeted now by the white supremacists? If you were on the school board, you could affect that. Is your town or city a sanctuary city for immigrants and people of color? If you were on city council you could affect that. Written and enforced HOA policies might have saved Trayvon Martin’s life. Who’s on your HOA board? Is your state passing hideous bills during this lame-duck session? If you were a state representative or senator, you could change that.

Take your shot whenever it comes. The rest of the time, rest and heal.

All my love,

Magda

A project to unite us

I’ve been thinking about unity of thought and feeling, so here’s a project for those of us of good will:

Every day at 9 am, noon, and 6 pm your time, will you say one of the following passages? One is a prayer (for people who believe in an external force that guides you–Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jewish people, etc.) and one is a blessing (for people who believe in an internal force or no force–atheists, Buddhists, pagans, agnostics, etc.).

The prayer:
Creator of us all, save us from the forces of evil who try to harm us. Turn us toward you and toward each other, and send us your protection from all harm. Help us love one another and work for justice together.

The blessing:
May we respond to the suffering of ourselves and the world with wisdom and compassion. May our good actions be unobstructed, and may we be at ease and peace as we work together for justice.

If you’re in, set your alarms for 9, noon, and 6, and copy and paste in whichever one you’ll do into the alarm reminder or your notepad. Then when your reminder alarm goes off, stop and pray or bless for the fifteen seconds it takes.

Special thanks to the clergy and laypeople I ran the prayer past, and to Rev Jay Rinsen Weik from the Buddhist Temple of Toledo for the blessing.

It’s ok to be calm

“Your healing is the world’s healing. Allow it.” —Randi Buckley

I know a lot of us are feeling constantly disrupted because of this election and the aftermath, and who are still feeling panicked and unsafe. After awhile that feeling becomes almost an addiction, and it feels like we’re betraying other people and the world if we can find calm and comfort.

If you’re someone who’s been traumatized in the past, you already know this cycle of anxiety and alarm, and how terrifying it is when you stop feeling anxiety and alarm, and how that feels like something even worse is going to happen if the anxiety isn’t there.

But.

You deserve to feel peaceful within the situation you’re in. Peace is power. It allows you to live the life you are capable of living, to be the advocate for the kids in your life that you can be, and to take joy in being alive.

Realistically, you are going to have to live the next four and eight and twenty years the best you can. Working and loving, with the most you can bring to both of those. Trump and his acolytes and the white supremacists and the oil companies don’t get to steal your life from you any more than any of the structures of our racist misogynist society get to. You have been living through our system already. You can live through these new changes and resist them at the same time and be at peace and heal from trauma every day.

And you have to. That’s not up for debate. As Randi says, “Allow it.”

First, triage. For when your chest gets too tight and your stomach clenches and you wake up with a start or you can’t fall asleep:

Assess your situation. Are you safe? Is your body ok? How is your breathing? If you have children, are they safe? If you are safe and as whole as is normal for you right now, start thinking about your breathing. Be intentional about breathing in and breathing out, paying attention to how that feels. Draw your focus to your toes and then slowly up your entire body, assuring yourself that you’re still here and you’re still the way you normally are. You are still here, still resisting.

If you are not safe, do whatever it takes to become safe, whether that’s leaving your location or asking someone else for help.

Breathe and think about the parts of you body that are ok. Think about the items on the to-do list I posted yesterday. Once you have worked your way through that list, you can put it aside and know that it’s taking care of itself, and you can focus on your real life and handling whatever comes up in your view as it comes.

To regulate yourself and get yourself out of the loop of fear, I’m giving you three assignments to do today and every day:

  1. Move your body rhythmically for 30 minutes. If you can walk outside, walk outside. Jog or run or swim or bike or row or step dance or jump rope if you like that better. Or put on music you like and dance for 30 minutes. It is better if you work up a sweat doing this, but I’ll take anything you give to it. If you can’t do 30 minutes today, start with however many you can do, even if that’s 1 minute, and work up to 30. You’ve got all the time in the world. Spend it on your body.
  2. Do something with your hands that involves rhythm and repetition (if you can move your hands). Knit or crochet or embroider or latch hook or carve wood or soap, or do cat’s cradle or origami, or knead bread dough or make meatballs or stuff dumplings or chop carrots, or do connect the dots or coloring books, or do rhythmic hand games with a kid you know, or Spirograph, or (air) drum along to some loud music, or something that keeps your hands moving in predictable ways. The goal is 20 minutes every day, but I’ll take 10.
  3. Spend some deliberate time snuggling with at least one other mammal today. (If you’re a bird or lizard snuggler, ok, and I don’t actually get it, but if it works for you, go for it.) If you live with other humans, make sure that you give each one of them a long, tight hug that gives them energy when you first see them in the morning, and when you last see them at night. If there’s someone at work that it’s not creepy to hug, hug them, or seek out a friend every day to hug. Spend time petting your pets. Make an effort to have some skin-to-skin or skin-to-fur time, even if it’s just your cheek against their cheek.

Make an effort to do these three things today and tomorrow and the next day. Making the effort for each one counts. Progress, not perfection. Eventually, once you’re more healed from a lifetime of trauma, these activities will keep you regulated on a daily basis. Start now.

All my love,

Magda

Sign, seal, deliver

This is part 1 of easing your mind enough to be able to live through each day without fear and anxiety. If you didn’t read my post about the long game from last week, go read it now and then come back. Assuming that we are all committed to resist Trumpism and teach critical thinking, it’s time to get things in place for the struggle ahead. Here’s a list of actions to plan and take:

1. Figure out how much direct action you can take and then sign up for one of the action emails that tells you a short, manageable list of things to do to resist. A weekly one is Wall Of Us, and you can sign up here: https://www.wall-of-us.org/subscribe/  A daily one is Raise Your Hand If You’re Gonna Fight and you can sign up here: http://tinyletter.com/resist Sign up for ONE of them. (You can manage one. More than one will increase your anxiety.) And then when it comes, do what it tells you to do, every week/day. Even if you’re afraid of the phone. I’m afraid of the phone, too, and I have a flat Midwestern accent and a slight lisp and I am making these calls and if I can do it, you can do it.

2. Decide how you’re going to handle it if you witness a hate attack. These white supremacists are coming out from under the refrigerator to attack people of color, Muslims, women, LGBTQ people, immigrants, and anyone they perceive as being less than they are. I am asking you to consider stepping in physically to help someone and stop these neo-Nazis. I am practicing and running scenarios to be able to step in physically if I’m alone or am with my children. I told my teenager (who is the size of a big man) yesterday that he needed to know that if something happened in my presence I was going to step in and I needed him to keep himself and his brother safe and call for help. I’m using the same procedure we’ve been rehearsing since they were little and we lived in NYC, but without the complication of being underground on the subway: I tell them I’m stepping in and call for help from other adults in the vicinity, hand them my phone unless they have their phones out, I step in, they call for help. If you rehearse it and talk about it enough, when it happens you’ll just do it without hesitation.

3. If you’re afraid of what will happen to you and your family personally (financially, socially, educationally, etc.) under the Trump regime, shore up as many gaps as you can so you have fewer things to worry about specifically. You may have been thinking “How bad is it going to get?” and the only answer I have for that is “Trust Jesus, but lock your car.” You won’t regret protecting yourself, if only because that frees up more energy to fight for others.

4. Reach out to the people around you to find out what they’re afraid of happening, and help them protect themselves. Do you have neighbors or friends who are going to be especially vulnerable to these criminal vultures and their policies? Help them with paperwork and planning, and help them with resources and support so they’re embedded even more in resilient communities. Immigrants, religious minorities, single parents who are just scraping by financially, kids who seem to get in trouble in school a lot and their parents, neighbors who might be in danger of losing their houses or not being able to keep the heat on. They are probably not going to ask you for help, so get quiet and start watching carefully to see what you can do to help them become more stable.

5. Think about the things that you’re afraid of being taken away, and how those structures are already too limiting and harmful to a lot of people. A lot of these structures are already systematically racist and misogynist–defending them just because they’re all we’ve got is a whole lot of energy to stay in the same place. Since Trumpists are trying to harm us, it makes exactly zero sense to merely defend. We need to attack and push for more equitable structures and more justice than we currently have. Getting along, seeing the other side, waiting and seeing–none of that is going to save us. There is no amount we can compromise that will make them stop pushing. So don’t compromise. Push back HARD into their territory and take what we need. Part of this is contacting your local politicians and demanding that they make your city a sanctuary city. Send your clergy people this story and ask them to become part of this movement. Put your money where your values are and divest of structures that reinforce an unjust system. Don’t support white-only institutions. Support institutions and groups that are fighting back. Meet up online and in real life to take collective action to demand more than we have now. Listen to the people who need the most change and do what they say.

6. Unplug. Knowing exactly what Crybaby Don and his criminal band of appointees say exactly when they say it isn’t going to change anything, and it harms you emotionally and physically. Set limits on the amount of time you spend reading and watching the latest ridiculous crap. Spend that time instead reading or writing fiction or poetry, cooking, doing things with your hands, exercising, making art or music, laughing with other people. They don’t get to make you jump every time they do or say something. You are still you and you deserve to feel good, in spite of it.

All my love,

Magda

(For anyone with depression, my friend Shannon and I write the Advent Calendar For Depressed People and it might help you know you’re not alone.)

The long game

Loveys, I’ve been struggling with writing a post to tell you how to stop being scared and what to do to quell the panic. I have a list of things but they aren’t hanging together yet in any way that feels helpful to anyone.

But then I was driving my 9th grader to school this morning and an Elton John song came on the radio and I launched into one of my cultural literacy lectures, about Elton John and Bernie Taupin and how they were such a strange combo because all of Elton John’s songs sound so natural, like they were written by one person and the lyrics and music just came to him together, but instead the lyrics were written by Taupin and the music by John and how do those songs hang together so well when the parts were created by different people? And how in the world does Taupin write lyrics from John’s point of view so brilliantly? I told my son about “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” about Elton John being engaged to a woman and being suicidal about that, and a friend talking him out of doing the socially acceptable thing by marrying her so that he could be true to himself instead. And how by writing those beautiful, nuanced lyrics for Elton John to sing, Bernie Taupin has saved more lives than he could ever know.

And then I started crying, in the car on the highway, because it hit me that my child has been trying to communicate since the beginning (when he was 3 days old my mom said, “He’s trying to talk to us” and she was right), and words and language are important to him, and he’s developing into a nuanced and powerful writer. So then I got fierce in that way that embarrasses the crap out of him even when we’re alone, and told him that he HAD to keep writing. That the words he put together were important, whether they were jokes or song lyrics or short stories or impassioned treatises about the moral danger of homework. And that his critical brain needed to keep working. And KEEP WRITING. Because he had no idea whose life he was going to save, literally or metaphorically, with something he wrote.

Then he changed the subject and I stopped crying and we got to school and he told me he loved me and got out of the car.

This is what I have for you today: This is going to be a long, slow ugly fight. Bad things are going to happen. Many bad things that we literally can’t do anything about, and a lot of bad things that we’ll almost prevent but not quite. And we are going to keep losing things we never thought could be lost. But. As long as we keep teaching the children in our lives to think critically and create things that connect with other people, we (humans) win.

If there are kids in your life in any capacity, spend time with them. Take them seriously and nurture their skills. Apprentice them into critical thinking. Invite them to look behind the curtain. Talk about race and sex and gender and how those things affect how people are treated and how they intersect with our systems and institutions. Encourage them to do a critical examination of media they consume and look for the mechanisms and motivations of the messages that are sent (and the ones they receive). Raise your children to be critical thinkers who can’t be fooled and enticed by demagogues and public narcissists. That’s the long game here–creating more humans who use their brains for justice and joy.

Now that this is off my chest, I think I can write these lists of how to regain your balance. Stay tuned.

Love,

Magda

Thanksgiving thoughts

This hit me hard this morning:

“White Mountain” by Vievee Francis

There’s a wind here so strong it shakes this stone house.
A howl from pain and cold, a particular anguish–
not a foot in a trap, but a foot in a trap and the snow
getting deeper. I look out under the leafless beech,
which I’d take for dead if I didn’t believe in spring’s coming.
I walk around the property thinking I might happen upon
the source of the sound. How could that cry be wind alone?
Something has snapped in two. Something has been lost
that won’t return in this life. I want to find the source.
I’m stumbling in a thin coat that flaps at my sides. It seems
as if I might ride the beast that haunts me if I could just let go.
Let it take me up easily as this gale is lifting me now.

From her stunning book Forest Primeval.

This day is incredibly difficult for so many of us, and this year there’s an added layer of heartbreak and reckoning. Your priorities are: being kind to yourself, protecting the children in your life, and getting through the day with as much energy and balance as you can manage. You don’t have to be good.

I hope that everyone will remember the water protectors today, and everything they’re doing for all of us. Please send them something, if you can, either from their wish list or a direct donation to one of the groups on this list.

We can all do this together.

All my love,

Magda

Kids and Thanksgiving and possible confrontations

(I have comments turned off specifically so I don’t have to deal with the fake Russian accounts or people trying to get me to tell them they’re not racist because they have non-white friends. If you’re an actual reader and you want to talk to me you can totally use the ways in the About section.)

Yesterday I talked about deciding how to approach Thanksgiving when you’re going to have to be there with people who voted for Trump. If you have kids, your decision is going to involve your kids, so it’s important to talk about how to talk about your decision to them.

Here’s my agenda: To encourage you to build in to your kids the gut instinct to protect their own boundaries so that when they get hurt they can heal and not stay in a bad position with people who are harming them, and give them the perspective to understand that others hurting them isn’t their fault. You can’t protect them from ever being hurt, but you can give them the bone-deep knowledge that they’re worth listening to and that their health and safety matters, and that they need to defend and help others, too. It would be nice if they got good at seeing through harmful institutions at a young age so they could get a running start on dismantling them.

To that end, I think you have to first think about what your decision about Thanksgiving is actually going to mean to your kids. Especially if they’re really little, they might not even notice or care. If that’s the case, then just do whatever makes the most sense, and keep being good to your children.

If your kids are old enough to understand this in a nuanced way (from maybe 11 or 12 on up for neurotypical kids), then tell them the truth and what you need from them in the situation. “We’re not going to Uncle Jimmy’s for Thanksgiving because I know he’s going to gloat about Trump winning and it’s going to make me feel horrible. That means you’re not going to get to see your cousins. I’m sorry about that, and I’m going to see if we can schedule a time for you to see each other without the adults having to be involved.” “I want to spend Thanksgiving with your grandmother and have it be a pleasant day for her, so if anyone mentions that guy or voting for him or anything, switch the conversation immediately to the football game on Saturday and who they think is going to win.” “Can we bring your ukelele along on Thursday and have you play before dinner so no one gets a chance to start anything about Trump?” “If your aunt and I get into it, we need to be prepared to leave, so don’t spread out too much while we’re there.”

Whatever you decide, when you tell your older kids what to expect and that they can play a part in it, you’re giving them a model of self-protection in spite of risk and accurately assessing risk.

(Also, I wouldn’t let your kids be the deciders here, but if they have been following this story a lot and have already expressed anger or dismay at family members having fallen for Trump, you might want to let them be part of the process of working through how to manage Thanksgiving.)

If your kids are old enough to know and understand what’s going on at Thanksgiving but not old enough to be straight with the way you are with teenagers, you have to figure out how to tell them the truth in a way that doesn’t put them at risk for being manipulated by the people you’re trying to navigate. You don’t want them to end up in a situation in which they are being lectured by someone else about what they should feel, or in which the other person is badmouthing you or your feelings to them, or in which they have to listen to all kinds of contortions of logic. And you don’t want them walking in and announcing, “Mom says I should stay away from Cousin Barb because she voted for Donald Trump” even if it’s true, because you don’t want to put them in that position.

So it makes sense to tell an edited version of the truth, in which you set expectations for the day, including expectations of a shorter visit or no visit. If you’re going, you can’t really tell them to stay away from anyone, because a) it’ll ruin the day for them, and b) they won’t be able to not mention it. So if you’re going, go. And then stay close to them to make sure no conversations are starting that you don’t want them to be part of or worry about.

If you have any allies at the place you’ll be, talk to them ahead of time about not wanting your kids to have to be subject to confrontations or manipulation, and ask if they’ll help you keep an eye on the kids so nothing happens.

Keep in mind the goal to protect your kids from worrying, but keep them in the loop on differences of opinion and standing up for what’s right.

If you’re spending Thanksgiving with other non-Trump voters, be sure to explain that and what it means to you to your kids before you go. And let them help with whatever your project is, such as letter-writing at dessert and/or other service projects.

You can make it through this week!

All my love,

Magda

 

Thanksgiving and what you want to do about it

I’m seeing a lot of guides to talking at Thanksgiving to your relatives who voted for Trump, and I love that people are putting these together, but I want to back up a bit to help you figure out if you even want to be in that position.

To be clear: My agenda is helping you decide how best to preserve your emotional and physical health. No one will defend your healthy boundaries but you. No one will defend your kids’ healthy boundaries and teach them to defend their own healthy boundaries but you.

I’m going to plug my Christmas workbook again right now because it’s a very clear, very step-by-step guide to isolating which expectations belong to you and which ones belong to other people, and how to figure out when it’s more worth not doing things that other people want you to do, and when it’s more worth going along with other people’s ideas (and how to maintain your emotional health when you do go along with someone else’s plan). It’s focused around Christmas because Christmas is ubiquitous in the US, but a friend used it to plan Ramadan, so there’s that.

If you are facing having to see people at Thanksgiving who voted to harm you and your family and friends (and possibly themselves!), please know that this isn’t a situation of “disagreeing” about politics. That idea assumes that both “sides” are valid and there’s the possibility to either agree and find common ground, or to just decide not to talk about things and ignore this difference of opinion.

In contrast, this situation is you having been harmed by someone who voted for a candidate who wants to harm you and is actively appointing evil into the government to harm anyone who doesn’t comply with their racist vision. Your relative may not have realized at the time that they were voting to harm you. But that doesn’t actually matter here. I’ve said it before: If someone is carrying scissors and trips and stabs you with them, you have still been stabbed and need to be healed. Their not intending harm doesn’t mean that you haven’t been harmed. And that makes this an inherently unequal situation because their intention doesn’t matter, only the effect on you matters.

The upshot of that is that you are not under any obligation to “consider their side” or “come together” or “try to understand” what they were thinking. If they want to repair the harm they’ve caused you, they need to do work to do that. It’s up to you to decide what that work should be. I described what it would take for someone to repair the harm to me in this post, if that helps you get ideas.

So I’m suggesting that you approach Thanksgiving in a very functional way and ask yourself two questions:
1. What do I want out of this day?
2. What do I want from each of the Trump voters I will see on this day?

What do you want out of the day? Maybe you want to not be triggered by people who won’t be kind to you. Maybe you want to see your grandmother. Maybe you want your kids to see their cousins. Maybe you really secretly just want to sleep and order in pizza. You are actually allowed to do anything you want to do, as long as you are willing to trade for whatever the repercussion is of doing that.

Let’s say you really want to spend Thanksgiving at home with your cats, instead of going to a relative’s house and having to navigate your brother. What will be the repercussion of staying home? What’s the repercussion if you tell them why you’re staying home? What if you develop explosive diarrhea that morning and just can’t come? Are you willing to deal with the range of repercussions? If yes, then stay home. If no, then go but work on some strategies for how to minimize the damage to yourself from going.

Calculating the damage you sustain by going requires considering the second question about what you want from each of the Trump voters you’ll see. Maybe with someone you really want to have a discussion about it but don’t care if you agree. That’s easy, if the other person is willing to discuss it. Maybe you want an apology from someone. That only works if the other person is willing to apologize. Think carefully about whether that will really happen and what you’ll do and how you’ll feel if it doesn’t. Maybe you really just want to not have to speak to someone but just sit there together and make it through the afternoon to be able to spend time with someone else. In that case, you might lay out that expectation for the person. (“I’m not interested in talking about the election and would just like to have a nice meal with Aunt Hana. Are you willing to not bring up anything about the election?”)

Think about what you want from each person and whether you think you might be able to get that from them. If you don’t, is it worth it to go?

Basically, here are your possibilities:

  • Don’t go, and tell them exactly why you’re not going.
  • Don’t go, and fake a reason for not going that doesn’t confront the issue (work, projectile diarrhea, migraine, etc.).
  • Go but only get there in time to eat and then leave at the end of the meal, and don’t answer any questions from anyone about anything. (Basically, you’re checking the “Thanksgiving” box but not really participating.)
  • Go but don’t talk about it with anyone and leave the room if anyone brings it up.
  • Go and stick like glue to anyone you know didn’t vote against you and don’t talk to anyone else.
  • Go and bring all sorts of stuff to distract people so no one can talk about any of it.
  • Go and engage people thoughtfully in conversation about it without agreeing to “wait and see” or “all get along.” If this is what you choose to do, the NYT did a nice little set of questions you can ask people here. And Showing Up for Racial Justice has a huge wonderful resource for you here including thoughtful factual responses to a lot of justifications. (They even have a text helpline!)
  • Go and say, “I’d prefer not to talk about it” as many times as you need to.
  • Go and say, “I’d prefer you not mention that in front of me/my kids/the dog.”
  • Go and any time anyone brings it up, change the topic IMMEDIATELY and abruptly.
  • Go and be ready for a fight and to stand your ground. (Be prepared to leave if you need to–and to lose people–if this is the course you take.)

Note that I’m not mentioning any option that makes you have to listen to anyone’s justifications and agree that they were right to support Crybaby Don just to keep the peace. Part of the next four years is going to be affirming and protecting yourself, and not rolling over just because people expect you to. You are worth being cared for and about. They can’t hurt you and then make you apologize for it. You can listen to their justifications and then change the subject, but don’t bless them because you think you should. That’s not honoring yourself and anyone else who is being hurt by this, especially people of color, people with disabilities, LBGTQ people, and Muslims.

Now, for anyone who isn’t going to be in the belly of the beast at Thanksgiving because you’ll be only with people who are also targets and non-Trump voters, you’re still going to have extra energy and worry. Why not put that to good use together by writing hard copy letters to your elected officials together? And what if you decided as a family to do a community-strengthening service project together in December? There are all kinds of things you could do, from collecting food or diapers for food banks to helping out with a community program that helps children of single parents make presents for their parents for Christmas and Hanukkah to volunteering at an animal shelter. Use this time and your energy and high emotion to work together to help each other and other people.

Tomorrow I’ll talk a little about how to frame this all for your kids, once you make a decision about how you want to do Thanksgiving.

All my love,

Magda