Thanksgiving is here and families are assembling from all corners of the country. And unless you come from a family I didn't know existed, this year brings with it a new challenge, on top of the usual political, religious, sexual, gender, racial, and on and on differences. This year all of us...ALL of us...experienced something that let's be honest: blew us away. A business man is going to be the 45th president of the United States of America...and it has a lot of people...well, feeling pretty un-united. This is problematic in too many ways to opine about now, plus I'm probably not smart enough to make any fetching points that haven't already been made by people like David Remnick and Noam Chomsky. (Now you know who I voted for. And why my teenager says, I shouldn't post this because when you talk about politics, you get "butt hurt" for it.)
But...I'm not here to talk about politics today. I'm here to write about something I'm truly worried about for us as a nation: How to make Thanksgiving work this year. Really work. Uh oh...I smell a top 10 list coming on. As you might have noticed, I loathe top 10 lists. But this year...we need to boil some sh** down. So here goes. No hate mail please. I'm trying to help:
1) Maybe don't bring up politics or religion AT ALL, and I mean a total moratorium on both of them. Like even in the family Grace and in the What I'm Grateful For thing. Talk about the weather. Talk about the gravy. Talk about why you love the person sitting next to you. Talk about the walk you're going to take after the meal, and on the walk after the meal, don't talk about anything other than the weather and why you love the person you're walking with and what you're going to buy on Black Friday, especially if it's at your local independently owned mom and pop shop. Wait -- stay off the homogenization of America theme. Maybe go back to why you love the person walking next to you and call it good.
2) Maybe, unless you're from Cleveland, talk about the Cubs winning the World Series. And if you are from Cleveland, talk about what a super bitching game it was all the way to the end.
3) Maybe...be the artsy token weird aunt and say, "Why don't we take a vow of silence during our meal, in honor of the Pilgrims and how they felt silenced enough to leave their country and fight for their religious freedom." Oops. Axe that. We're not bringing up religion or politics, remember. Or race relations. Maybe just take a vow of silence.
4) Maybe ask the host to give you a play by play break down of how she/he cooked the turkey. If she/he brined...FABULOUS. This will take up at least ½ an hour of the meal and the pride which he/she deserves will gush. Gushing joy and pride is a good thing in the way of feeding loved ones. Let's raise the rafters on that! (True to the holiday, we're going for gratitude.) If he/she deep fried the bird, you can compliment them on their rogue courage. If she/he basted every half an hour and made their own giblet gravy, you can take deep bows and call them Martha Stewart. If you need more content, you can ask them about their position on to stuff or not to stuff.
5) Maybe play an after meal family game. Like Pictionary. Or Scattegories. Just stay away from Celebrity Apprentice the Board Game, and Bridge.
6) Maybe decide that this is the year where you truly will put your unconditional love barometer to the test. Love them all. Love them especially because they voted for someone you couldn't stand. Love them for their differences. Love them for the conversation that is behind it all: I need to believe in something. Everyone is scared. Voting shows hope. And that's what we want in the end: a hopeful nation.
7) If you are in grief over the election, find someone who is too and talk to them. Do it privately in hushed tones. Is stirring the pot, or even raging at a friend or family member (or some random innocent who was invited last minute) going to help anyone, especially you?
8) If you are in victory over the election, see #7 and do the same.
9) Maybe sing Kum-bah-yah and mean it. It just means Come by Here, which is what you did in trusting sacred traditions and the community of family and friends. Sing it loud. Sing it proud. Sing it because you have the freedom to sing in the first place, no matter who you did or didn't vote for. Maybe dust off your old Free to Be You and Me album and sing along! (maybe skip William Has a Doll)
10) And 10...maybe have a dry Thanksgiving to keep the fight, the right, the wrong, the very ugly out of it. Or heck, if you're in MA, CA, OR, WA, NV, or CO, pass a joint around. Oh wait. Don't talk about that either. Stick to the "this is what I love about you" theme.
May we all enjoy peace this holiday season. Let love and gratitude show us the way.
Peace and love, (and some humor for crying out loud)
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