Not ready to kiss and make up

By Debra LoGuercio

©Copyright 2004, Debra LoGuercio, all rights reserved

Forget Black America and White America. From this election, a new color schism was born: Red America and Blue America. It's bad enough to come to grips with the fact that my country has developed a split personality, but now as the email from relatives pours in lambasting Democrats and Republicans alike, I'm discovering that I have Red Family and Blue Family to deal with as well. And just in time for the holidays. Oh boy oh boy.

Instant family feud: just add politics. This'll really put the "fun" back into "family dysfunction" this year. Aren't the holidays stressful enough without Red relatives and Blue relatives declaring each other to be the mindless, immoral, nincompoops we always knew they were? How 'bout we just bypass the inevitable shrieking dinnertime debate, cut to the chase and not speak to each other right now. It'll save so much time and energy, let alone wear and tear on the vocal cords. Besides I don't need another family holiday upheaval to be pissed off at ya'll. I've got plenty of family baggage from which I can draw upon to generate the appropriate amount of disdain to give everyone the cold shoulder until at least February. Of 2010.

With blood still running hot over this election, the holidays are a disaster in the making: Too many people packed in too little space, full of junk food and cheap Scotch, and armed with sharp utensils and decades of resentment and frustration. It's called a powder keg. All someone has to do is strike a match. Be prepared. You only have about three seconds to duck and cover when you hear the match strike. It sounds like this: BUSH.

When you hear that sound, it's fight or flight time, baby. Excuse yourself immediately to do some critically important task like take a stroll in the yard and see if the roses have gone dormant yet, or get sucked into a family brawl that will eventually stretch all the way back to "Mom always liked you best!" Which, of course, is why you voted for that (insert your favorite expletive) idiot (insert your favorite candidate)!!!

Yes, it's all Mom's fault. She never breastfed us. Let's pick on her now.

Somebody pass the Scotch.

Problem is, whether this election sparks an all-out, knock-down family feud or months of silence, something will eventually happen and everyone will have to rise above this Red/Blue family dichotomy and pull together. Maybe it'll be an illness. Or a birthday party. A graduation. A wedding. Or even a funeral. We may get through it with gritted teeth, but we'll get through it. And, little by little, we'll regret having gotten so mad at each other.

It's on occasions such as these that we swallow our pride, check our stubbornness at the door, and plow through it. Hospital waiting rooms, birthday cakes, commencement ceremonies, wedding bells and caskets have a way of neutralizing family squabbles. We recognize that there's a larger identification than Red or Blue. It's called Us, and it has no color.

It's the same with our country. We've just had the family feud to end all family feuds. People talk of getting past it and pulling together now, but that's not realistic just yet. We aren't ready to kiss and make up. It's like apologizing to Cousin Bernie just because Aunt Nellie insisted you do so. You say the words, but you know you're gonna slug him the first time Auntie's back is turned.

Time. We just need time to let the feelings run their course. Because, whether it's family or country, we're stuck with each other for the long haul, whether we like it or not. We may squabble like tail-tied cats strung over a clothesline from time to time, but let a dog come in the yard and we'll be on the same side again.

Someday, not right away, but someday, Americans will remember that we have a larger identification than Red or Blue. We'll remember the color of "Us." Or, rather, the color of "U.S."

But not today. Today I'm still mad at you. Because Mom always liked you best.

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