Leave the politics off your holiday table
by Ed Wendell
Nov 14, 2017 | 304 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s that time of year again, when the media produces stories about how to survive Thanksgiving with friends or relatives whose politics you disagree with.

Now for a little thought experiment. Go back and read that sentence again and think about what word or words caught your eye. If your answer was “Thanksgiving,” “friends,” or “relatives” then you don’t need any advice.

But if you found yourself drawn towards “politics” and you’ve already started thinking about your lines of argument for next week, then you are as much a part of the problem as that know-it-all friend or relative you plan to spend the day sparring with.

I understand that you think that some of your opponent’s views are stupid and dangerous, and you might very well be right. But it should be apparent to you that some of “your side’s” views are also stupid and dangerous.

And since we are intimately exposed and bombarded with each other’s political views every other day of the year, perhaps we can give each other a pass and focus on what’s important about Thanksgiving.

For starters, if you have friends and relatives to sit down and share a meal with, be thankful for that. There are many people right here in our community, people that you know, who will be eating alone next Thursday.

When you are with your friends and relatives on Thanksgiving, remember all of the good things that drew you close to them in the first place and be thankful that you are all together, for it will not always be so.

Be thankful for the laughs and good times you share with those close to you and do not let them be tainted by petty political bickering. Treat those who try to draw you into political debates the same way you’d treat someone who just broke wind at the dinner table.

In other words, politely ignore them and pass the potatoes, please.

Thanksgiving was always my father’s favorite holiday. We were a small family with just the three of us, which expanded to four once I met my wife. Sometimes we’d have relatives over for dinner, most notably two older aunts from Manhattan who considered coming out to Woodhaven to be “a trip out to the country.”

Aunt Alice had a habit of peppering her language with salty expletives. Not just the mild ones, either. She used all the hardcore words before, during and after dinner. She was a lovely woman and we were all fond of her, so we’d all politely ignore her patter while we passed the stuffing.

Aunt Margaret drank way too much, and that was before she took the train out to Woodhaven. By the time we sat down to dinner she was looped and treating us to songs from her dance hall days, though she tended to mix up the songs and forget half the words (though Aunt Alice would chime in with a few choice suggestions).

One year my grandfather came over and the three of them sang the bawdiest version of “Peg O’ My Heart” imaginable. My grandfather’s face got redder with each and every verse. I was just 10 years old at the time, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

In our household, Thanksgiving was a time to be thankful for your friends and relatives, and if they drank a little too much or sang too loudly or used scandalous language, that was okay because Thanksgiving is also a perfect day to practice forgiving.

Forgive the little odd habits that your friends and relatives exhibit, even if that includes airing every single one of their noxious political opinions.

Politely ignore them and pass the potatoes, please.

From my family to yours, may you have a blessed, healthy and happy Thanksgiving.
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