The sign was in a heap behind the living room couch.
That’s where I found it when I was moving furniture to put up the Christmas tree.
The blue background was unchanged by days left out in the sun. The names etched in white had faded inexplicably, if not metaphorically.
As soon as I could on November 9, 2016, I had shoved the sign behind the couch between our front bay windows.
We had worried about putting up a political yard sign at all, considering that we are in heavy Trump territory — most of the readership is, really — but I saw victory ahead and wanted to proudly proclaim our allegiance.
Instead, I ripped it out of the ground and threw it behind the sofa that morning, hours after Donald Trump had claimed victory.
Part of it was the fact the election was over and it looks silly to keep up political signs, like having a jack-o’-lantern up at Christmas. Part of it was not wanting the daily reminder of an epic failure, like buying a Cleveland Indians “World Champs” T-shirt when they were up three games to one over the Cubs.
It had been several weeks since Trump added president-elect to his title, and it still hurt to see that sign. When he makes his State of the Union address in the next few weeks, it will hurt even more.
I’m not telling you this in some effort to reverse your political affiliation. First, this is a parenting magazine. Second, the point is that if you’re still feeling dejected about the election, I’m here to say you’re not alone.
I’m also here to say that if the election invigorated you and you can’t wait to see how the nation transforms, it will transform the best the more we try to understand each other. I’m going to guess in the past 12 months, none of us did a great job of listening to the either side.
Did you block someone on Facebook with an opposing view? Did you fact check your own candidate? Did you tune someone out even if they had a valid point?
Because I know, parenting-wise, we all tell our kids to listen. To accept others. To not make enemies. How quickly we ignored that for the election, me included.
When we voted, we had all the kids in tow (part of our master plan to rig the election by having the twins vote, except their lack of hand-eye coordination caused them to write-in for Jeb Bush). It’s a cool moment to show your kids, even at their very young ages, how democracy works.
My wife took Quinn, age 19 months, into the voting booth, came out and had a tear in her eye as she talked about getting to vote for a female for president for the first time.
By the time she went to bed late that night, my wife had a bad feeling, even as I kept trying to reassure her — and myself — that things would still work out. By 2 a.m., we both knew, and we just held each other.
Quinn was awake at 5 a.m. My wife held her in the kitchen. Another tear had formed. She told Quinn how sorry she was.
After all of those months, there was my wife and my daughter and a tender moment that has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with real life.
Some other parent had a quiet moment that morning with their daughter, and they laughed and hugged at the idea of Trump in the White House after months of them holding out hope he’d secure victory.
Is one moment valid, and the other one fake?
Of course not. I can’t take away that joy just the same as I wouldn’t want a Trump supporter making a generality about how Clinton supporters reacted to the election as sore losers. Neither would be fair.
The thing is, I just don’t know where we go from here.
When the State of the Union address occurs, half of the country will eagerly wait to see if campaign promises become more solidified pledges and if their joy was justified. The other half will scoff and roll their eyes and look for any “See, I told you!” moment, waiting for vindication to ease the tears.
Even as you’ve read this column, you may have already lumped me with some group in your head based on how you voted — not based on whether you can relate, but whether it lines up with your values. It’s not far off from Trump supporters who, soon after the election, said they were tired of being characterized as racist or called other derogatory terms for supporting the person whom they believed would best improve the economy and American society.
We’re lumpers. It doesn’t feel good on either side, and it definitely isn’t setting a good example for our kids.
If you voted for Trump and read this entire column, I think you’re already setting a good example. The sooner we can start to humanize “the other side,” the better.
It’s what we tell our kids to do all the time. Life doesn’t usually include yard signs making a personal belief crystal clear. We have to tell our kids to get to know someone and accept them for who they are.
Now is as good as time as any to take our own advice.