According to the New York Daily News, the 2016 presidential election is dividing families on Thanksgiving.
Don’t be surprised if the occasion brings empty seats at the table, heated debates, awkward silences and (at potluck meals) a confusing array of dishes labeled “Not my casserole” and “Not my cranberry sauce.”
The earliest Thanksgivings I remember took place when the Vietnam War was escalating and the Sexual Revolution was exploding, so I have enough perspective to realize that holiday tension is not unprecedented. When Abraham Lincoln declared a national day of Thanksgiving in 1863, we were still in the midst of a war that pitted brother against brother. (Granted, that has morphed into a battle of brother-trapped-in-a-sister’s-body against sister-trapped-in-a-brother’s-body, but things are basically the same.)
Some people will always be more interested in finding bones of contention than PULLING the wishbone. I think my late grandfather could have found some way to start a Thanksgiving table war between the green Hula-Hoop fans and the godless orange Hula-Hoop fans.
But I do empathize with the citizens who think the divisiveness will hit new depths this year.
Who am I to question nostalgic yearnings for a simpler time? Many folks sincerely miss the olden days when “extreme vetting” meant the family dog would be walking funny for several days and when the only “nasty woman” was cousin Bertie, who observed the “30-second rule” when she thought no one saw her dropping cooked yams on the dining room floor.
But that Mayflower has sailed. This will not be a Norman Rockwell holiday. Politics has seen to it that even the most wholesome old holiday songs are now tainted.(“Over the river and through the w——oh, somebody’s aides have closed the bridge!”)
On a positive note, family members will chew their food really, really well —— out of fear that President-elect Trump will declare the Heimlich Maneuver retroactively stripped from Obamacare.
Some hosts will undoubtedly go out of their way to get a rise out of their guests. (“Thank you, Lord, for this succulent turkey, which was allowed to grow to an impressive size, instead of being yanked untimely from its mother’s womb. Egg. Whatever.”)
Other hosts will bend over backwards to avoid controversy. (“No more choice of ‘white meat’ or ‘dark meat.’ This bird is being blended into Thanksgiving smoothies.”)
Ground rules may have to be set down, including no talk about fracking Plymouth Rock, no referring to the cornucopia (“horn of plenty”) as a “horn of deplorables” and no bragging about how many bankruptcies one can generate while participating in pre-Black Friday door-buster sales.
Most people will bring their own well-rehearsed talking points to the gathering, but of course one clueless idiot will stumble right into a controversy. (“I guess the Electoral College is okay, but it would be better with safe spaces and adult coloring books and an occasional kegger…”)
There’s still time to salvage the holiday. Thanksgiving can still be a time for traditional activities, such as kibitzing your niece’s new beau, loosening your belt while watching televised football games and listening to a grandchild’s first word (“Misogynist!”)
Here’s hoping that we can find common ground, join hands and give thanks for our many blessings — like, for instance, the ability to come up with the cleverest scheme for getting great-aunt Maude to promise US that antique chest of drawers!
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”