Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Post-Election Advice on Surviving this Year’s Thanksgiving from a Vegan



Hi, there!

How are you? Really. How are you?

I can see that you’re struggling. I know that this year has been a little rough with the election and everything so we’re all a little banged up and now we’ve got Thanksgiving to deal with as if the last couple of months hadn’t been enough of a kick in the pants. Now you’ll be sitting next to the same cousin who posted angry, embarrassing screeds on your Facebook page, the same brother who felt emboldened to forward you absolutely nutter messages from the NRA, the same aunt who goes out her way to tell you, apropos of nothing, that she is praying for you. On November 24, you and all of them will be smooshed together in the same claustrophobic room.  

On the bright side, if there’s anyone who is adept or at least experienced at powering through a hostile, unpleasant environment at Thanksgiving, it’s a vegan. See, we’re good for something other than making you feel guilty and/or resentful all the time. We’ve got real life skills. Here I am, your cheerful ambassador to an inhospitable holiday meal with the family, and, not to be all full of myself, but I have a metric ton of experience in this. Let me be your friendly guide. After all those years of being freaked out and more than a little despondent to sitting at a table where people are eating corpses, this year’s post-election Thanksgiving will be, if not a breeze, than at least nothing new. Please enjoy the following tips and pointers I’ve accrued from my many years of steeping in the family milieu at Thanksgiving.

And let us be thankful for the little things.

* Bring an ally if you can. Agree that you can lightly jab at each other under the table in lieu of banging your heard into a wall.
* Go in a bedroom and punch a pillow if you need to. Don’t explain your absence. Just do it.
* Carbo-load for mood elevation but have an exit strategy for the inevitable blood sugar crash. You should actually have the exit strategy even without low blood sugar.  
* On the exit strategy: The thing about strategies is they have to be strategic, in that they are already planned, you don’t just awkwardly try to wing them like some guy at his first improv class. People can see the flop sweat bead up on your forehead. Do you want that? Lay the groundwork for your early departure with an elegant, airtight alibi: Does your elderly cat need fluids? Have you been feeling a little under the weather? Do you have to get up super early tomorrow? Did you maybe leave your oven on, garage door open, back door unlocked? Whatever, man. I am not here to think for you. Just come up with a semi-plausible foot-out-the-door strategy, don’t try to be too creative or complicated, and commit to it, okay?
* Question: Is recreational cannabis legalized and accessible where you live? If so, you can draw your own conclusions.
* Repeat a mantra like “In with love, out with anger.” Coordinate with your breaths. (Do I need to say that the mantra should be silent?)
* Try this visualization technique when you get stressed: Imagine that you are on a beach or a peaceful meadow, whatever is more pleasing to you. Picture a perfect blue sky or the dappled sun on your blanket. Feel the warm sand or the soft grass beneath you. Sink into it. Hear the seagulls and waves, hear the songbirds and wind blowing through the leaves. Inhale the sea salt, the intoxicating wildflowers. Imagine it with as much detail as you are able and your uncle pontificating about “the Mexicans” will recede far away into the background.
* Less ambitiously, you could try to recollect every cute kitten video you have stored in your memory bank.
* Make a note of all the funny shit you’re going to post on Facebook when this shit show is over and make it a mental challenge to remember every last, shitty detail. Remember that comedy is tragedy + time.
* It could always be worse, right? This could be a Thanksgiving meal with the Duck Dynasty family or Ted Nugent or some other next level wing-nut crackpottery. Cultivate gratitude for the little things, like not having anyone actively try to murder you and dance in your still-warm blood at the Thanksgiving table. Keeping things in perspective is key to a positive attitude.
* Remember motivational and inspiring quotes like, “When you are going through hell, keep going,” “That which doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger,” and, “It’s just a couple hours…It’s just a couple hours … It’s just a couple hours …”
* The Thanksgiving table is not the place to do your activism. At dinner, nobody wants to hear things like “You voted in a racist, misogynist, xenophobic regime with the most despicable, backwards platforms imaginable and a tantrum-inclined despot with Narcissistic Personality Disorder at the helm and so you might have an answer as to why the neo-Nazis are celebrating the results of the election.” Um, you know, for example.
* Find conversational common ground everyone can agree on, like that it is better to be healthy than sick. Ice is cold. Fire is hot. Air is important. So is water. We can all agree on these things. Stick to such neutral and banal universalities to find areas of shared understanding.
* Want to mess with people but not in a way that will bring about a Jerry Springer-style brawl? Here’s what you do: If someone starts spewing nonsensical garbage, like that turkeys are dumb and so eating them is like eating a vegetable (yep, I’ve heard that one) or that you can vote for a racist without actually being a racist, don’t say a word. Don’t make a face. Just look at the person in your most straight-faced way. Maintain eye contact. Don’t nod. Don’t even frown. Don’t say, “Hmm,” or tsk or anything. Just listen to them spewing BS without a reaction but also without looking away and they will get more and more uncomfortable that you are not throwing them a lifeline. Trust me on this. Watch as they desperately grasp for your validation and exoneration, your face inscrutable, offering nothing. This is great fun in an End of Days sort of way.
* In conversation, keep things pleasantly ambiguous, saying something like, “Mashed potatoes. Who doesn’t like mashed potatoes? Am I right?” regardless as to whether or not it is relevant to the conversation.
* Don’t try to text your friends for support from the dinner table. That’s rude. Go into the bathroom to do that.
* Then again, if you’re not invited back, is it such a big loss?

So, hey, I hope this is helpful. You’ll survive it. You’ll be fine. The point is just to white-knuckle it and get through to the other side with a minimum of damage.

I have faith in you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

xo -

Your Vegan Guide

PS – Maybe you can be a real ally now and leave the animals off your plate?

PPS – I've already overstayed my welcome, haven't I? 

2 comments:

Melissa Whittinghill said...

I love this! Will save it for next year to remember.

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