Americans vow to gobble more, squabble less this Thanksgiving

Chew on this: unions between Democrats and Republicans represent just nine per cent of marriages in the United States. It’s a Yale analysis that says so, so, it must be so. Right? Or do you want to fight about it?

It’s Thanksgiving here in the U.S., so fighting is as expected as the candied yams on American tables this year.
Especially this year.

Frankly, though, the entire Thanksgiving Day tradition was born of division. And stop waving the fork around, Uncle Bob, it’s true. President Barack Obama took pains to make that pretty clear in his Thanksgiving address Thursday, reminding Americans this day was declared by Abraham Lincoln in the middle of the Civil War.

“So, precisely when the fate of the union hung in the balance, he boldly proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving, when the nation’s gifts should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged.” 

Maybe it helped then to gather the extended family around. Maybe it will help now. The tribalism of U.S. politics certainly hasn’t eased. So, when generations and in-laws mix, awkwardness is inevitable. Is it any wonder “More gobble, less squabble” was a wise headline in the wise Washington Post today. 

Heavy dose of humour advised

Offers of coping strategies abound here in D.C., as does a healthy dose of humour about them.

Maybe Wolf Blitzer should moderate your dinner table, suggested Ellen DeGeneres.

How about a little rest in an empty Target parking lot, just to get the heck away? That from Saturday Night Live last week. 

More practical is to just put more turkey in your mouth. That was the suggestion from Jack Hunt of Montana. He was at the historic Eastern Market in Washington, D.C., the other day loading up for the big meal. He and his wife, Donna, were pushing a stroller. A quick peek in revealed not a red-cheeked grandchild but pounds of potatoes, greens and some sort of pie.

No fighting at his table this year, he assured, but he’d been reading up on the tips, just in case.

“I think we have to suck it up” is his counsel for the entire nation this year. Put political chatter aside.

No feuds in Brazile household

That might be easier said than done. Especially in Washington. George Gilbert was trying to think about sweet potato pie inside the market when he did a double take. Over to his left, hovering over the deli meats, was Donna Brazile, the interim chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Washington Post headline

A Thursday headline in the Express, the Washington Post’s free daily distributed in the D.C. area. (Washington Post)

She has not had the most enjoyable few months. She took over the position of chair when the previous head resigned after leaked emails showed the party appearing to stack the deck in Hillary Clinton’s favour over Bernie Sanders. Then, it got messy for Brazile, too, with allegations she had leaked questions to Clinton in advance of the presidential debates.

In a little Thanksgiving outreach, Gilbert reached out.

“How are you, Ms. Brazile?” he said. “You did a good job.… We came up short, but it wasn’t your fault.”

Big smiles and a thank you from Brazile. Frankly, the poor woman probably wanted to buy her sprouts in peace, but she was there, we were there, our camera was there, so, why not try for a chat.

“We’ve been asking people what their coping mechanisms are for family feuds,” we told her.

Donna Brazile: ‘We are avoiding politics’0:36

“I don’t think we’ll have any feud at my house,” she said. “We all agree that the gumbo should be spicy, the rice should be dirty and that the crabs and shrimp should be seasoned well, so we’re all good.”

“Is that the only topic of conversation at your house?” we asked. 

“This Thanksgiving, we’re gonna avoid politics. I’ve had enough of it. They’ve had enough of it.”

Can you blame her? Or other Americans? They are thankful, it seems, for the remote controls handy to turn up the volume on the football game when it gets tense at the table, cocktails poured extra strong and kids galore. The more they run around, the more Americans can look lovingly at them and not awkwardly at each other.


People in the Skid Row district of Los Angeles eat a Thanksgiving meal Wednesday. Americans are exhausted this holiday from months of a bitter, fractious election campaign. (David McNew/Reuters)

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