Thanksgiving is just days away, and apparently some Americans are stressed out of their minds about it. Politics, and specifically the recent presidential election, are to blame for this universal holiday angst. Naturally.
This week ABC News published the results of an online poll that shows 45 percent of Americans are anticipating political table talk this Thanksgiving. Thirty-eight percent find the prospect of such conversations “at least somewhat stressful,” while 14 percent find it “very stressful.”
If the 2016 presidential election taught us anything, it’s that mainstream media can’t be trusted. But if there ever existed an exception, this is it. Besides, most Americans don’t need data to confirm that their Thanksgiving anxieties are shared.
Given the extent of this problem, many outlets have published articles featuring (questionably) helpful tips for how to survive the dreaded conversations:
— Upworthy (@Upworthy) November 18, 2016
— HuffPost (@HuffPost) November 21, 2016
— The Scope (@TheScope) November 21, 2016
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 19, 2016
But while almost half of the country is engaging in some form of pre-Thanksgiving therapy, another group of individuals can’t wait for the figurative blood bath to start. Most of the articles and discussions surrounding this Thanksgiving conundrum fail to address the political antagonists at the dinner table and, even more importantly, how each and every one of us is capable of becoming such a person.
Whether it’s the liberal feminist who is looking forward to “mansplaining” the “glass ceiling” to her traditionalist uncle or the diehard Trump supporter who has been longing to deliver a great big “I told you so” to his Bernie-loving cousin from the Bay Area, some people live for opportunities at Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is about family — a collective group of individuals who are bound by shared origin and relationships, if nothing else. The old phrase “you don’t get to choose your family” becomes painfully clear during times of national social, economic, and political strife, but family is the one constant that transcends such divisions.
We may not be able to control the actions and opinions of others, but we can do our part to ensure that these things don’t affect how we treat these family members. This Thanksgiving, all Americans should reflect on the truth that though we can’t choose our families, we can choose to love them.
The First Amendment crusader isn’t compromising his values by abstaining from political talk at Thanksgiving dinner. The animal-rights activist isn’t being a hypocrite by choosing not to lecture his relatives on the evils of consuming poultry. What these people are doing is acknowledging that family is a uniquely human bond that runs deeper than ideology.
Family is the only — dare I say it — “safe space” that offers us much-needed respite from the country’s contentious political climate. Take advantage of it, and most importantly, be thankful for it.
The most interesting stories aren’t told in the headlines. They’re in the FOOTNOTES!
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