Chaos To hope

How the Election Changed my Life

by Caitlin Haviland

On Saturday, Nov. 7, my world shifted. After four years of chaos—and the disaster that was 2020—Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were announced as President and Vice President-elect. It’s hard to describe the immense joy and hope this news brought me, especially after what has felt like the longest year of my life.

On that morning, I woke with the same sense of anxiety I have been feeling for the past four years. Since Trump’s election, it feels as if every day brought new bad news. What nonsense did he tweet last night? What fact is he denying today? What world leader is he insulting? Or, which of my rights is he planning to rip away now? It feels as if every day of the Trump presidency came with a new punch to the gut, and I could not help but fear that the chaos would continue for four more years. But on Nov. 7, everything changed.

I was outside in Brookline eating brunch with my best friend, laughing and exchanging stories of the week when the news broke. As we sat and chatted, we heard horns in the distance. At first, we did not think anything of it, but minute by minute the news rippled through the city. Suddenly, runners were stopping mid-stride, couples walking their strollers paused and every restaurant patron seemed to drop their jaw. The city felt still for a few seconds as everyone read their Apple News alert, and then, with a sigh of relief, celebration erupted.

Strangers embraced, parades of cars beeped in rejoice, people screamed in celebration, some even cried while on the phone with their loved ones. The feeling was electric, it was a moment I will never, ever forget. After so many years of fear and uncertainty, I had hope. Not only was Trump no longer to be feared, but a woman, finally, was going to be in office. I sobbed tears of joy that night, as did so many other women around the world.

This immense feeling of joy, hope and faith in the world has stayed with me since that incredible day. This week, however, a new feeling interrupted that happiness when I remembered the holiday on its way. Thanksgiving is almost here, and I could not be more excited to see my wonderful family who I have missed greatly these past few months. But with that excitement comes a bit of bottled-up dread, knowing the political conversation that will inevitably erupt around the dining room table.

Like so many other families, the Trump presidency created tension in my household and my wider family at large. It’s normal for families to have political divides, but the tension will be undoubtedly exacerbated this holiday season. With the majority celebrating a renewed sense of freedom, and a select few mourning the loss of their tax dollars, I have no doubt that things are going to get awkward.

Normally, I would do everything I could to avoid the conversation as a whole. But Biden’s win is monumental, and I refuse to not discuss it out of fear of making others uncomfortable. Thanksgiving is a celebration of what you are most grateful for, and while my family is certainly at the top of my list, my love for my family is irrelevant if my basic rights as a woman are taken away from me. This year, there is nothing I am more grateful for than the Biden win. While I’m anything but excited for the uncomfortable conversation as we pass the turkey, I’ve decided to embrace the awkwardness. Mixing family and politics is tough, but four more years of Trump would have been a whole lot tougher.