Just because America is on the express train to hell in a handbasket does not mean your Thanksgiving dinner needs to be embroiled in turmoil. Every year on my blog on Thanksgiving, I usually make some kind of post wishing everyone an awesome day with family, friends, and food. Yes, politics is always something that can ruin any dinner. This time of year, hundreds of stories pop up on the internet where people humorously (and sometimes not) share their Thanksgiving dinner horror stories where conversations of politics, religion, or other touchy issues caused a disaster. But all of those years and all of those stories are child’s play compared to what might happen this year. Luckily, my family has always avoided such talk. Still, I have many friends who are worried, my best friend telling me the other day that his large family gathering is split almost in equal numbers by who voted for Hillary Clinton and who voted for Donald Trump. I asked if the topic will come up and he said it’s inevitable, although he will not be the one to bring it up.
Any large gathering with friends I have been to in the second half of my life seemed to generate at least one negative remark about George W. Bush or Barack Obama. However, it usually passed with a grumble or mild exchange before someone asked to pass the gravy. This year, the chance for an explosion is far too great. It’s too volatile a year, especially if you have a large group. The best thing to do in this situation? Don’t bring it up at all. A difference of opinion is what makes the world go ’round. It’s what makes us unique and keep things from getting too boring. But there is a time and a place for everything. Sometimes we must show restraint, even if it kills us inside. Can we get through one afternoon—one dinner—without tensions exploding? Talk about what’s going on in your lives, the deals you’re going to find while trampling each other to death on Black Friday, or compliment the cook on the great job he or she did. I know this will be unavoidable in some households, but do your part to ensure that you don’t ruin this day.
I can already see some blowhard reading this post and claiming that I am talking about suppressing peoples’ free speech and it is their patriotic right as Americans to talk about politics or anything else at the dinner table. Well, I don’t want suppression, just a delay. Is that so much to ask? And you are correct: it is your right to talk about whatever the hell you want. However, it is not your right to ruin this day for everyone around you which comes only once a year. The one non-denominational holiday we have where everyone can enjoy it regardless of religion or background. No matter what politically correct or incorrect connotations Thanksgiving has taken on in recent years, in the end, it’s about giving thanks—one day where we can reflect on our lives and what is in them and be happy for once.
It doesn’t matter who you supported in the election, the last two months have been grueling. Even when it ended, media coverage and social media clickbait has been relentless in keeping people outraged. This is your one damn day where you can put the phone down and enjoy being with your family. It’s not your right to be selfish and insensitive to the people around you. It’s not your right to be an idiot. It is your right to stuff your face with as much food as possible, watch football, and pass out on the couch. So eat, drink, and be merry. Oh, and don’t worry about calorie count either. Put down the “eat this, not that” recipes, and shovel that food in your face by the metric ton. It’s your right. We can complain about this country all we want, but we are incredibly lucky to live here. Such a bounty is not experienced by the majority of the world, including some in our own country. Reflect on that, not Donald or Hillary. There are 364 other days to drive yourself nuts. Thanksgiving isn’t one of them. Don’t ruin it.