Around this time every year, coastal media trot out a series of articles “preparing” a very particular set of readers for encounters with opinions unlike their own, which says more about them than the subject of their writing, but anyway…

This year is no different, except for the fact that their attempts to normalize contentious Thanksgiving Dinner conversation are far less veiled than years past. Once upon a time, there was at least a pretense of impartiality. But this is 2018 and everything with which they disagree is abhorrent and at the very least, racist.

Like this gal:

Or this one from Eater:

In closing, the writer suggests it’s the cruelest injustice not to use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to tell your family they’re wrong:

The personal has always been political, and what happens in our homes has actual impact on the world outside them. Is there a better opportunity than this moment, when everyone is sharing a meal, to bring people together in a way that actually, honestly invites everyone to the table? If we are truly committed to justice for all, we have to create just spaces wherever we are. Our failure to translate private disapproval of bigotry into public protest, even at the dinner table, is an endorsement of immeasurable cruelty.

SPOILER: Not everything in life is political, nor has it been, nor should it be. Sure, bigotry is unacceptable, but when you define bigotry as someone who voted for or supports Trump, as most liberals do these days, you’ve lost me and about half the country.

And there’s the New York Times.

This one is my personal favorite. The NYT went so far as to create an Angry Uncle Bot which coaches user on how to respond to the proverbial angry uncle who never passes up an opportunity to discuss his politics in the brashest of terms during everyone’s favorite meal of the year.

Users are able to select their uncle’s political persuasion. And you would know that the conservative angry uncle is a complete ignoramus who speaks in hashtags (literally) while the progressive uncle is thoughtful and well spoken. Conversely, the liberal niece or nephew in this hypothetical is also far more polished and well-spoken than their conservative counterpart.

A look at the conservative angry uncle:

The bot does advise users to ask questions that are more personal and less overtly political, though still in the political vein.

And the liberal uncle:

In case it’s not obvious, you will seldom invoke a change of mind or heart by telling someone else how wrong they are. Change, true change, manifests through love and relationship, not judgment and condemnation.

Politics may be part of family gatherings, but contrary to the above-listed suggestions, should certainly not be the focus.

We are the only country in history privileged enough (in the actual sense of the word, not it’s modern perversion) to have an entire holiday devoted to intentional, mindful gratitude. It’s how Thanksgiving began is how it should remain — a celebration of our blessings, the love we’ve been given, and all the other bits that make this life a beautiful place.

According to Pilgrim Hall Museum, the first recorded Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1623. In the midst of a drought, the pilgrims humbled themselves in prayer. When the rains came that afternoon, they took time to give thanks.

Plymouth had been stricken with a severe drought. “Upon which,” said William Bradford, “they set apart a solemn day of humiliation, to seek the Lord by humble and fervent prayer, in this great distress.” That same evening it began “to rain with such sweet and gentle showers as gave them cause of rejoicing and blessing God… For which mercy, in time convenient, they also set apart a day of thanksgiving.”

More than a hundred years later, in 1777, George Washington wrote:

Tomorrow being the day set apart by the honorable Congress for Public Thanksgiving and praise, and duty calling us devoutly to express our grateful acknowledgments to God for the manifold blessings he has granted us, the general directs … that the chaplains perform divine service.

In 1778, the Continental Congress issued a Proclamation, designating Thanksgiving as a day to “be observed as a day of public thanksgiving and praise, that all the people may, with united hearts, on that day, express a just sense of his unmerited favors; particularly in that it hath pleased him, by his overruling providence.”

Nowhere, and I know this is shocking, but nowhere in any of our early celebrations of Thanksgiving is there mention of, “be sure to tell your relatives they’re wrong and racist!”

Gratitude leaves no room for haughtiness.

So, tomorrow, as we’re enjoying our turkey and dressing with family (related or otherwise), may we all remember what Thanksgiving is truly about. Your angry uncle might be wrong, but he’s just as deserving of love and kindness as the rest of us.


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