Peace is thicker than blood: Letting go of toxic family during the holidays

The Dear Culture podcast is asking the question: "Dear Culture, how do we keep our peace in the midst of family drama during the holidays?"

This article will be talking about family and trauma. Please protect your peace as advised. 

From Barack Obama’s new novel A Promiseland to George Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue, several new books this year deal with challenging family dynamics. These dynamics are also seen in our own families, from the aunties that mind your business to much to the relatives that start brawls bring toxic energy. The Dear Culture podcast is back with our lovely hosts, theGrio’s Social Media Director Shana Pinnock and Managing Editor Gerren Keith Gaynor, to ask the very important question: “Dear Culture, how do we keep our peace in the midst of family drama during the holidays?”

Every family has some level of family drama and this holiday season is unprecedented due to the necessary COVID-19 restrictions that limit overall in-person interactions. Making sure our families are safe and have taken precautionary measures is very important. But as Pinnock jokes, “trying to get a bunch of older Caribbean folks on the virtual thing is a wrap.”

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During this time of the coronavirus pandemic, Pinnock says “hell no” to big family gatherings, preferring small and safe get togethers.

While some are excited to see their families, for others it may be a triggering event. Whether you’re making space to find resolve or simply saying no to the B.S. and protecting your peace, we all deserve to be true to ourselves. 

“There was a time they would say, ‘Do you have a girlfriend? You date anybody?’ Then it became clear that Gerren’s not dating girls. Which can also be offensive when your queer. Well I’m still a human being, I still want and desire love,” says Gaynor.

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As some family members do not accept their kin’s sexuality, queer kids and adults often “choose their family” in terms of who is allowed to see their inner self. Gaynor points out that “talking these things out is important,” but the key point is “when you’re ready.”  

“Your life journey is your life journey.” says Gaynor. 

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The feeling of having to catch up and get partnered and raise children is a societal issue Black families do not need to instill. Truth is, “you might not see your loved one” during the holidays in 2020 and what matters is cherishing the moments. Not counting your niece’s biological clock or urging your child to partner with genders they do not want. Such bickering is small compared to greater things. As Gaynor points, “God forbid a family member goes to yonder” and you’re left with regrets of having not told your kin you loved them when they were here.

Perspective truly matters and respecting your family member’s perspective on their own life is important. As complicated as it is, there’s no easy fix, and do what’s best for your soul. 

Tune in Dear Culture, the smart, reliable Black news podcast. Now streaming on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Stitcher.

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