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Dear Little Bobby,
The holidays are here and I’m filled with dread…not because of Donald Trump, but because I have to spend time with extended family and subject myself to a whole lot of drama and terrifying political opinions. Do you have any tips for how not to hate Christmas?
—Hopeless for the Holidays
Dear Hopeless for the Holidays,
Millions and MILLIONS of us are in this situation with you—but you still might feel alone when you are at the dinner table and your Uncle Jethro decides to say that Mexicans need to go (or whatever particular racist bullshit he spews from his hate hole).
Right after the election I decided that I would not be visiting family this year for this very reason. Like many of us, I was pissed off that people I am related to support this hate. I was VERY angry. Then reality set in. The truth is several of my close family members are in poor health as a result of eating crap labelled as “food” over the course of a lifetime. I was content to avoid some of these people. I was happy to disavow some of these racists/misogynists until I was directly asked to come visit this or that family member, “because they are not doing well” and this might be their last Christmas.
I do not want to be around someone who is so hateful.
The truth is, this might be the last Christmas for all of us, and I do not just mean because Trump could end up with nuclear weapons at his tiny orange fingertips. It is also because any one of us could die in a car wreck, be struck by a bus/lightning or suffer from any number of calamities at any time. So, I have decided to go visit some people who I love but have a hard time liking. It is called “being an adult.” It is called Compassion and we all need more of it. The people to whom I am referring need Compassion, the extended family members to whom you are referring need this same Compassion. You need it and I need it. Without Compassion we doom ourselves.
It is easy to hate—just look at Trump and the hateful people that he has worked into a frenzy. They are afraid of the “other.” My tip to you is: DO NOT BE HATEFUL. Love them. If my Uncle Jethro prays to Jesus over Christmas dinner and then complains about helping sick people get healthcare, I could raise my voice in disgust. I could call out his hypocrisy (and I might) but should I? I could also remain quiet, but should I? We all have choices to make. When anyone around me begins saying something hateful about another group of people, especially a group that is being demonized and scapegoated, I speak up.
I cannot remain silent when someone says “We need to get rid of the damn Muslims!” I will not be silent if I hear a family member bash immigrants, particularly when the basher themselves is a grandchild of immigrants.
But if I try, I can speak up with kindness. I can do it without calling them ignorant (even when they clearly are ignorant). I can do it without telling them that they are hateful (even when they are clearly being hateful). Instead, because I am dealing with hypocrites that call themselves “Christians” I can quickly quote Jesus from Matthew 25:35 that says “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” and I can easily say “The Bible commands us to love strangers as much as we love ourselves” (Leviticus 19:34).
If you feel justified, maybe if this person is a complete asshole/particularly hateful, tell them exactly how you feel. Go ahead and tell them how hateful their words are. Or just say “I do not want to be around someone who is so hateful” then pick your plate up and eat in the other room. Or tell them “I just lost my appetite” and leave the house. It is all up to you.
This year I might look at my family member and say “THIS is why I hate Christmas: hateful people gathering around to celebrate buying shit and mocking other people in the name of baby Jesus. I am embarrassed to be related to you.” Then maybe I will give my elderly family member a kiss goodbye, knowing that I might not ever see them again.
I hope I do not feel the need to say something like that, and there is a good chance I will not, but it all depends on what is said in my presence. I have heard family members say some very hateful things over the years. As a child I mostly stayed quiet, but I will no longer tolerate hate in my presence. I am more concerned with our entire planet than I am concerned with protecting the feelings of the 5th asshole that my aunt married. Jesus Christ would not tolerate such hatred either. He would not fight with them, nor would he remain silent just because it is Christmas.
—Little Bobby Tucker