Let me explain. I love Christmas as much as the next guy; I promise. I love hearing the sleigh bells ring-jing-ringing. I love Christmas cookies. I love the little, old, fat guy in a red suit. I love my family. I love their quirks and our weird traditions. I love decorating the tree and inevitably overcooking the turkey. But, when it comes to the long, awkward conversation with relatives I didn’t even know I had, I have to draw the line. The majority of my extended family on my mother’s side lives in small towns scattered over the border between Arkansas and Missouri. Think about all of the small town stereotypes you can and they will probably all apply to these tiny communities. The people are nice, but blatantly racist. The scenery is pretty, but the huge “Make America Great Again” blocks the sunset. No one drives above 30 miles per hour. My family gathers in one such town every Christmas Eve and had ever since I can remember. Once the questions about school, the college search, my relationship status, and “eccentric” hair color are out of the way, the part of the holidays I don’t like ensues: the politics. If you didn’t catch it earlier, these small towns belong to the part of the country that voted for the big, orange guy in Washington D.C.

There are a few outliers. My immediate family, my mom’s twin sister and her husband, and an obscure cousin’s husband all grit our teeth and wait for the politically incorrect, racist, white supremacist themed talk to start. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes my grandmother’s sister can stop her daughter before she blurts out something that makes me inwardly groan. Sometimes I feel comfortable in conversation with my family, but more often than not, I do. I love the holidays; I love my family; I do not love my family during the holidays.