Thanksgiving is only a week away, and if you’re anything like me, you didn’t even see it coming.
Election Day was Nov. 8, and now we are already talking turkey? Two weeks doesn’t seem like enough of a buffer, at least for this election. Going on Facebook or Twitter these days is near-constant reminder of the discord in our political discourse, and those emotions will likely still be raw by the time Thanksgiving rolls around next week.
So what do we do now? If you’re dining with a large group of people, odds are there will be a difference of opinion in the group. Do we avoid the discussion of politics at the dinner table, or do we address the elephant head-on?
While conventional wisdom might suggest avoiding politics is the best (and easiest) solution, you might feel like giving it a shot.
For starters, you might think about bashing the media – a time-honored scapegoat, even though there's a reporter sitting next to you. You could also talk about the unreliability of political polls, or pontificate about how social media has divided us into two hyper-partisan worlds that are ultimately irreconcilable because they are based on different sets of facts.
If you’re feeling brave, you could talk about the number of bricks it would take to build a 2,000 mile wall, or the merits of the popular vote when compared with the Electoral College. You could also try to clear up common misunderstandings, like what exactly does “alt-right” mean anyways?
Go down that route and it might be the beginning of an argument that ends in spilled gravy and chucking carving forks at each other. You don’t want this to be your last Thanksgiving, do you?
Just thinking about it makes me pine for my childhood Thanksgiving dinners, when the only topic on my mind was how much turkey I could fit in my stomach, how much sugar is appropriate for a lefse roll or how many more drinks it will take for someone to bust out that accordion.
Whether we realize it or not, our younger selves were much better at healing divides. As an outspoken Packers fan, I’m sure I could have used Thanksgiving as an opportunity to gloat about the Packers or rub salt in the wounds of the Bears fans watching their team lose yet another Thanksgiving Day game to the Lions.
But instead of talking about how bad the Bears were losing, I would switch the conversation to the Cubs - a losing team we could all rally behind. The Cubs would’ve made a major holiday talking point this year, if only my grandpa had lived to see it happen.
My point in saying all of this is that we all can find something in common with each other. Thanksgiving is about two sides coming together to sort out their differences, so if politics comes up in conversation, try to establish your commonalities rather than dwell on your differences. The media might say it’s impossible, but then again, they also said the Cubs would never win a World Series.
If we commit to building off of our common values, we may defy the odds. In the words of a reality-television-star-turned-president, we might start winning again.