Thanksgiving is a day of stress, even in the best of times, but Thanksgiving 2018 could take the cake. . . er . . pie. Dinner conversations have become landmines. Relationships are as strained as my jeans after five helpings of mashed potatoes. Families haven’t been this divided since the great Toilet Paper Orientation debate of 1954.
Here are just a few topics that could escalate your meal from a civil discussion to Grandpa throwing cranberry sauce into the ceiling fan: The national anthem–Kneeling v. standing; The Presidency–Trump v. a sane person; Women’s rights v. Rich White Men; Nazis v. Not Nazis; and the most contentious subject, Marvel v. DC.
Things are ugly, folks. People are tense.
There are marches and demonstrations covering every perceivable issue. Even asking someone their view on mayonnaise could spark a worldwide protest. So, what can we possibly talk about around the Thanksgiving table so we can still get presents on Christmas?
I gathered a group of unsuspecting family members to practice possible discussion topics. It didn’t go well.
Me to Grandson: Tell me about Fortnite.
Great Uncle Jack: What’s Fortnite?
Grandson: It’s an awesome video game!
Great Uncle Jack: That’s stupid, you namby-pamby! Do you know what my video game was? World War II!
So, I tried again.
Me: Elon Musk plans to take humans to the moon in 2023.
Second Cousin: The moon landing never happened. It’s a conspiracy to keep us docile.
Me: I don’t think it’s working.
Me: How about those sports?
Hubbie: Agents have ruined professional sports! Back in the day, athletes played the damn game. Now, it’s, “Oh, I need an extra $20 million before I can throw a pitch.”
Okay then. Next.
Me: What fun things should we do for Christmas?
Brother-in-law: We should stop pandering to the commercialism of a pagan holiday that has no foundation of truth. Might as well celebrate rocks.
I tried a different tactic.
Me: A delicious roast turkey sure sounds good.
Daughter: Do you know how turkeys are raised? It’s disgusting and inhuman.
Me: Turkeys aren’t human.
Daughter: You are dead to me.
I was almost out of ideas.
Me: What do you think about sweater vests?
Everyone: We hate them!
Well, that’s a start.
I’m worried most families will end up sitting quietly, heads down, creating volcanoes with the mashed potatoes and gravy, and making NO eye contact for the entirety of the meal. At least dessert shouldn’t be contentious. (Dessert: Hold my beer.)
There was a time when conversation was an art, a civilized form of speech. Someone started talking, then others respectfully chimed in with their opinions. Sometimes, discussions got heated, but it rarely became a knife fight. Or maybe I’ve just read to many Jane Austen novels where you had to actually pay attention to realize you’d been insulted.
Now everyone is insulted. All the time.
So. On Thanksgiving, let’s practice not being insulted. Let’s try hearing other people’s views without writing them out of the will. We don’t have to agree, but can we be kind?
And the correct answer is Marvel. It’s always Marvel.
Originally published in Iron County Today – http://ironcountytoday.com/columns/life-and-laughter-table-talk/