In recent years, the young people of the millennial generation have grown out of the warmth and comfort of their childhood holiday experiences, transitioning into the cold, harsh reality of adulthood. Balancing the desire to remain knowledgeable on current social issues while still enjoying family discussions at dinner brings up an internal conflict that plagues our generation. This year, a movement has been created to stop the arguing. Instead, bottle up your beliefs for a day in order to enjoy the holidays as you did when you were young. This movement, which is easier said than done, brought students together as they steeled themselves in preparation for this week’s Thanksgiving festivities.
“You would think it gets easier each year — that you would build up a thick skin against this stuff,” Jessica Reyes, a third-year feminist studies major, said. “But no — somehow Aunt Helen’s speech about Obamacare is just as hard to listen to as it was in 2009. If I hear her mention how luscious Trump’s golden locks are or how ‘brilliant’ his immigration plans sound one more time, I’m going to lose it.”
Jessica is a veteran of these battles — a seasoned professional at surviving her family’s remarks around the dinner table. “Things were easier when I was young and didn’t know much, but it’s been a downhill spiral ever since my first Twitter account. The college years — or as Aunt Helen calls them, my ‘hippie, liberal, good for nothin’ years’ — were when things really started to heat up. However, that’s when I stopped arguing and started drinking.”
As the leader of the organization SABR, or Students Against Bigoted Relatives, Reyes has collaborated with other activist and multicultural groups on campus to prepare students with some techniques in order to get through the holiday season. Weekly meetings leading up to the holiday breaks focused on sharing advice and helpful tips for getting through the holidays without any mental breakdowns. One tip shared by Reyes includes switching out your relative’s hard apple cider for something a bit weaker, such as some tequila and a Xanax or three.
“I’ve been going to trainings since October, when they were teaching us how to deal with our especially homophobic relatives,” said Rick Jackson, a first-year Black studies major. “I used a lot of these techniques at Thanksgiving yesterday, starting with the ‘smile and wave’ approach when greeting problematic relatives, and eventually employing the ‘reassure and relax’ method, when trying to make grandpa realize that just because a man has nice eyebrows does not mean he enjoys intercourse with men.”
Another UCSB student, second-year Christina Phan, testifies to the success that SABR offers. “My brother and I have loved Christmas since we were young, but after taking our first ethnicity requirement classes this quarter, we realized all we wanted from Santa this year was less racist relatives. Thanks to SABR, I’ve learned to condition my grandma to realize that Enrique, my current boyfriend, is not, in fact, our gardener.”
The SABR club will be offering more training sessions during dead and finals week for those who are interested.
“We highly recommend using the drinking game we invented — if you’re of legal age of course,” Phan said. “You take a sip of your wine when an edgy topic is brought up, finish your glass if anything about the presidential race is mentioned, open a new bottle if an issue with a hash tag comes up and reach for the hard liquor when they mention how great if would be if Donald Trump wins the election. I went through three bottles after my uncle said ‘all Fridays matter.’”