Thanksgiving has been consistently ranked as one of the favorite holidays of residents of the United States, with the focus on food and football – and if you’re lucky, several days off from work to chillax – but this Thanksgiving is a little different, no thanks to what has been called one of the nastiest presidential campaigns in modern history, and a result that surprised and shocked many.
Thanksgiving has stereotypically been known as the holiday when relatives hash out long-held grievances that can escalate into all-out wars, especially when mixed with alcohol, and plenty of movies and comedy skits have zeroed in on that most insidious aspect of the holiday; no doubt a contentious presidential election adds an extra twist this year.
The holiday with family and friends gathering for the first time since the November 8 election has some taking some clearly defined stances on how they plan to have a happy holiday without the political hysteria. Some are canceling trips and making other plans. Others are putting their foot down.
My sister Rebecca in Michigan doesn’t want any talk of Donald Trump, in fact she wants no Trump supporters at the table. “No way in hell," she says.
"It has nothing to do with Trump being a Republican because there are some Republicans I like and I think are good," my sister adds. "If you voted for him then you think all the insane things he said are okay, and I’m not going to tolerate it when I don’t have to. If you support Trump, don’t come over. I’m not kidding.”
Luis Alvarado, a Republican strategist in Los Angeles who initially didn’t support Trump, says he is going to try to give president-elect Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt.
Alvarado says he'll be the one talking about having a “cautious optimist approach because we need a strong country. We have to have an opportunity for success and that’s how I’m approaching it on Thanksgiving.”
Most of Alvarado’s wife’s relatives are Democrats, which could make for some interesting conversations around the table, but Alvarado says he’s going to steer it away from anything contentious.
“For me, Thanksgiving is about the kids and that’s what I’m going to think about, to give the kids a sense of optimism as we get together as a family.”
Alvarado tells NBC Latino he’s also on a mission to clamp down on reaction from gleeful fellow Republicans and Trump supporters who might get a bit too enthusiastic at the table. “You have to be the adult in the room, and tell people stop poking people in the eye and saying, 'I told you so.'”
Psychologist Dr. Claudia Campos says sometimes it's best to get any grievances out in the open, but with a caveat.
“It’s inevitable that the election comes up in conversation, and it’s good to get out in the open any fears and worries one has. But at the same time, if it’s a family that’s politically divided, is it worth it to even bring it up?" she says.
"Say something like, 'let’s not talk about it because we’re not going to agree,' Dr. Campos suggests. "Thanksgiving is a good time to take stock and lower the level of tension that’s been present during the whole campaign.”
Campos adds that while the Trump campaign rhetoric has been especially worrisome for many Latinos, his election doesn’t necessarily mean anything immediate.
“Don’t let your imagination run wild. We hear a lot of rumors and we think it’s all true. People are panicking about things that aren’t going to happen right away. The time will come when we’ll see what Trump will do but now is not the time to get into a panic mode. Instead of talking about fear, why not focus on what we are grateful for this holiday?”
Campos tells NBC Latino that while Thanksgiving was obviously not originally a Latino holiday, it embodies what the Latino community is all about.
“It’s the perfect holiday for Latinos because it’s something we do all the time: get together with family and friends around the dinner table. It goes to the core of one of our most cherished values: the family, and sharing with others. That’s what we need to focus on that day.”