Holiday Guide: Students face political talk with families over Thanksgiving

Hayley Krolik, Reporter

Some students returned home for Thanksgiving break wondering whether politics would completely derail the holiday.

That is why SESP senior and co-president of College Democrats Sydney Selix’s grandma set a clear rule for this year’s meal: no political talk.

“I don’t think I have gone a day without talking about (the election) at least in some capacity,” Selix said. “(But at home) I was allowed to make a Trump joke that had to do with turkey legs; that’s what my grandma allowed me.”

Selix said her family is largely liberal, so she was not concerned about divisive conversation, much like Weinberg junior Sabrina Williams, whose family was also on the same page about the election.

Williams, co-president of Northwestern’s Political Union, said her family discussed the fear they have regarding President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet appointments. She said she was grateful for the advice and wisdom her parents were able to share, in contrast to her experience on campus where she has friends that typically share similar opinions to her own.

“It was kind of weird because when you are at school you are in an amplifying bubble; you and your friends are similar,” Williams said. “It was nice getting away from that and talking to my family about it.”

Weinberg freshman Ashley Pimlott said her mother preemptively emailed the family that there would be no discussion of politics because Pimlott’s mother knew there was a divide between their conservative family and her daughter’s liberal views.

However, Pimlott said she was not able to heed her mom’s warning. Immediately after her parents picked her up from the airport, Pimlott engaged in a heated discussion with her father about Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor. While her mother sought to diffuse the argument, Pimlott’s discourse with her father has inspired her interest in being informed.

“Honestly, me disagreeing with him is a lot of the political discussion in our household,” Pimlott said. “From a young age, it made me really interested in keeping updated with current news.”

This Thanksgiving, Weinberg senior Lauren Thomas, who is politically conservative, said she hosted her liberal Swedish friend. When this friend and a friend from home met, they started an unexpected “friendly debate” with Thomas about Betsy DeVos, Trump’s choice for secretary of education.

Thomas said even though she and her father share conservative viewpoints, they often talk about their differences rather than what they agree on.

“I definitely expected to talk about politics because I call my dad up all the time and talk to him about Northwestern relating to politics, so I was not surprised,” Thomas said. “Honestly, it was less than I would have thought.”

SESP sophomore Jimmy Kellock also fielded comments from conservative family members, especially his grandparents, but he said he did not agree with their views.

This year, Kellock’s grandfather brought up jokes about trigger warnings and Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro’s email to students after the election. Kellock’s grandfather intended to make fun of “how soft the kids are these days.” Kellock, who has liberal views, said his tactic was to change the subject and do his best to indulge his family members’ criticisms.

Kellock said he did not let the contentious comments affect the holiday and was glad to have a break.

“I definitely didn’t let it ruin the time with the family because it’s so good to see them,” Kellock said. “It’s something that’s frustrating, and I’m weary of, but I’ve come to expect it, and I’m used to it.”

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Jimmy Kellock’s school. Kellock is a SESP sophomore. The Daily regrets the error.

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