That meal, according to Norman Rockwell, is a happy gathering of extended family members sitting gleefully around the dining room table thinking how wonderful it is for everyone to be together again. But Rockwell, who painted those iconic Saturday Evening Post covers in the 1950s, never envisioned today’s political climate. Today, Thanksgiving is seating Uncle John’s family of Republicans to the right side of the table and Cousin Mildred’s passel of Democrats to the far left. And it is a wife threatening divorce if her husband dares to bring up politics.
We should, of course, be grateful every day, but we aren’t. We complain about everything from high gas costs to global warming for 364 days, but we do set aside at least one day to be thankful for the wonderful things in life (at least in theory). We’ve opted to commemorate Thanksgiving with dead turkeys and cranberry sauce that no one eats, as well as by watching the mighty Lions of Detroit get ripped apart by the Bears of Chicago. Although the game has no importance, we feel forced to watch it because it is a Thanksgiving Day ritual. What else is there to do while dinner is cooking, after all?
With everyone sitting around the table playing on their smartphones, it might be prudent to text the Thanksgiving meal prayer rather than say it aloud. That way, you know everyone at the table will take note when their phone dings. In that prayer, we dare not mention the fact that we are thankful for that COVID vaccine that we sought when we said grace last Thanksgiving. That could start Uncle John’s family screaming about a government conspiracy, to which Cousin Mildred’s folks would reply that they were glad they were sitting at the other end of the table from unvaccinated idiots.
If we thank God for the meal, someone is bound to bring up the high cost of food since the Democrats took over the White House and the House of Representatives. And if someone prays for everyone’s safe return home, there will surely follow a heated discussion about how much it cost to fill the gas tank to make the trip. The men plead with the women to schedule the Thanksgiving Day meal so that it won’t conflict with the Dallas–Las Vegas football game. Nobody really cares about Detroit and Chicago, but every male in attendance is interested in Dallas. Half are Cowboy lovers and half are Cowboy haters. There is no in-between.
Despite these pleas, the woman of the house has everyone sit down at the table exactly the moment Dallas is about to score. She unceremoniously cuts off the TV and again threatens divorce or worse if her husband dares turn it back on before the last drop of cranberry sauce is tossed in the trash. Thankfully, every man has his cellphone handy and can keep up with the game while eating. Norman Rockwell never painted a Thanksgiving Day dinner with family members sitting around the table with a fork in one hand and a cellphone in the other.
Last night, women warned their husbands who hunt that they had better be home at a certain time. “I don’t care if you’re stalking a 36-point buck! You unload that rifle and head home. You be home when the company arrives!” Home. Home for Thanksgiving. Home with friends and family. Home with plenty to eat. We don’t know how lucky we are and we should truly be thankful for what we have. We should be especially thankful to be together after COVID caused many families to be apart last year. And we should be thankful for the vaccine that is getting us out of this pandemic.
For one day, let’s try to put politics on the back burner and try to keep the conversation somewhat civil. Of course, if you really want to stir up trouble, just inform Uncle John’s family that the cooking thermometer is really a syringe that is injecting COVID vaccine and a government tracking chip, which someone will swallow, into the turkey. Hitting a holiday party? Be a hero with one of these host gifts. But that would be mean and we don’t want to be mean on Thanksgiving. So behave yourself and stay away from politics.
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