Students Prepare for Political ‘Fighting Matches’ Over the Holidays With Families


Photo courtesy of Haunani Saifoloi

Thanksgiving dinner 2019.

The holidays are here, and some students are ready for political war.

As CUH students return home for the holidays, they express how stressful it can be, considering that the elections just happened. Students brace for the political arguments that will arise upon returning home.

Some families have political divides within their family like Melia Tupuola, a fourth-year-student at Chaminade University. She is a Democrat and firmly stands for what Democrats believe. The Hana, Maui native shares some of her experience going home and how she is treated by her own family.

“My family is Republican, so that’s fun for me,” Tupuola said. “My dad is actually the worst out of all my family members. He likes to remind me a lot when I’m home how being a Democrat is dumb, and I’m a disgrace to the family. … We get into a lot of fighting matches, and he likes to think he wins but he doesn’t.”

Not all family members have the same outlook on political views. According to The Atlantic, a study was released last year on the extent to which Americans live in bubbles, 39 percent of respondents said they see political diversity within their families. Meanwhile, roughly three-quarters of Americans’ interactions with people from another political party happen at work, and less than half of the respondents said they encounter political differences among their friends.

Most families don’t have any political arguments and some have that one crazy family member that likes to start fights or is small minded, according to The Atlantic. Maria Gherghisan is a fifth-year nursing student at Chaminade. Gherghisan, who hails from Texas, said she comes from a nice well rounded family that really doesn’t fight about politics as much.

“I have this one aunt that every Christmas she gets buzzed or drunk and likes to start fights,” said Gherghisan, who identifies as a Democrat. “She calls everyone every name in the book when we talk back to her. If I’m going to be honest, she is definitely a Karen. Don’t get me wrong, I love going home for the holidays, but my aunt is the downfall.”

In 2019, 35 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats said they would be unhappy if their child married someone of the opposing political party, according to The Atlantic.

“I married a guy who’s a Republican and his whole family [is too],” said Talyor Puclik, a 23-year-old from Oregon. “… I truly don’t care about politics, but I can’t stand when my husband’s mom tries to dictate to me on how I should be a Republican. My husband doesn’t know what to do or say when I get into arguments with his mom. He respects me and my views, but his family is something else. It’s hard being married to someone whose family is very opinionated.”

Puclik said she comes from a family that is not big on politics so marrying into a family that’s “crazy” about the topic is not her cup of tea. She is newly married and is attending the graduate program at Chaminade. Puclik and her husband moved to Hawaii a little over a year ago.

Ryan Gapelu posted pictures and videos of him at a small party with his friends supporting Joe Biden through the presidential race. His grandmother and extended family don’t support his lifestyle and choices. He is from Big Island and has been living on Oahu since he was 18 years old. Gapelu attends college at the University of Hawaii and loves being here on Oahu.

“My grandma saw my post on Instagram about Biden winning, and she was pissed,” said Gapelu a 21-year-old. “Let me tell you, I could not stop laughing. … It does not really bother me because I always get texts like that. I’ll post about going to pride parades, and my grandma will bash me. If I post too much of gay-looking photos, bashed. Honestly, I have thick skin and I just let it roll off my back. I’m sassy as hell so my comebacks are great. I can’t wait to go home for Thanksgiving because that’s when the real drama goes down.”

Gapelu said he only goes home for the holidays, because he doesn’t like being around his “toxic” family all the time.

Going into this holiday season, plans can be modified to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Limit the number of attendees as much as possible to allow people from different households to remain at least 6 feet apart at all times. Guests should avoid direct contact, including handshakes and hugs, with others not from their household, according to The CDC.

Keep conversations with your friends, families, and communities safe during this holiday season.

“Holidays wouldn’t be the same if there were no political arguments,” Tupuola said.