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One Family, Two Strategies For Political Healing On Thanksgiving

On election night, did you already have a bad feeling about your family Thanksgiving? One Northwest brother and sister did. Jessica Brady and Jeremy Holmes both voted for Hillary Clinton. Their parents didn’t.

Jessica and Jeremy are sister and brother -- grown, with their own families. They both live in the Seattle area. Their parents are conservative Christians. Their mom declined to speak on tape for this story but said she loves her children and their families.

On election night, Jeremy’s mother called him. He had been in a wreck that night with some minor damage to his car. His mom was checking on him. And in that conversation, Jeremy’s mother told him she had written in her presidential vote. And they argued.

After that, Jeremy and his wife decided to have their own, quiet, veggie Thanksgiving. He said he’s partly relieved, but there’s another part of him that’s “bummed.”

''I do care about my family and I'd love to spend some time with them. But I think it's just too much right now.''

“Because I love being in big groups of people and love being with lots of friends and my loved ones,” he said. “I do care about my family and I’d love to spend some time with them. But I think it’s just too much right now.”

Jessica is hosting the Thanksgiving Jeremy is skipping. She’s having their parents over. When she found out her brother Jeremy and his family weren’t coming -- she started inviting dozens of friends.

“Just ‘cause I was kind of hoping to have a buffer and have lots of people around,” she said. “But it just ended up not working out.”

All their friends were busy with their own plans and families. So it will just be her, her husband, their two boys -- and her parents. She loves that her mother volunteers in her children’s classrooms every week and is a good grandmother.

But on Thanksgiving day, Jessica dreads getting cornered.

“And I can’t get pulled away by other guests who need something,” she said. “So the getting cornered thing is definitely the scary part.”

Jessica said she still attends her church and identifies as Christian -- but she’s also grown more liberal in her views over the last several years.

For Jessica, her differences with her parents don’t begin or end with the election. But the election, and the holiday, highlight the work she’d like to do on their relationship.

“The hardest thing that they could do is just preach at me, and read me bible verse after bible verse about why I’m wrong about things,” Jessica said. “And that has happened to a certain extent in the past.”

She wants Thanksgiving to be different.

''I think both my parents are amazing people. So it's just trying to figure out how we can be in each others' lives. And that's just really hard.''

“I think both my parents are amazing people,” Jessica said. “So it’s just trying to figure out how we can be in each others’ lives. And yeah, that’s just really hard.”

She plans on setting a ground rule we hear a lot about at holidays: no politics.

Jeremy’s rule is that this year, he and his wife need space from the holiday gathering.

“I do want to get to a point where we can be in the same room together,” he said. “I think that’s best for the grandkids and best for everybody involved.”

He just needs a little more distance from election day.

Jessica wants to take the first step now.

“I think it starts by actually being together and inviting my family over on Thanksgiving, even though it’s scary and a little overwhelming,” she said. “If we’re not together, then how are we going to start the process?”

She said maybe it’s those little conversations that happen over time.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.