Let’s keep table talk on topic this year

Many families have friendly rivalries that emerge over Thanksgiving dinner. Whether it’s one aunt’s stuffing competing against one uncle’s. Maybe it’s who makes the better pie. Maybe it’s who is responsible for carving the turkey this year.

Of course, many times when there are a number of relatives together, there can be more contentious conversations – it’s the nature of an intergenerational day and evening that thrusts family together for one of the few days of the year. Such is the nature of family.

From news talking heads to honest-to-goodness psychologists, there is an uncommon suggestion circulating the media and which might actually have some merit.

This year, maybe consider curating Thanksgiving conversation. That is, make it clear to all guests that certain topics are just off limits at the table. This year, national politics and the presidency might be on the no-talk list.

Now, family and generational debates over politics are time-honored traditions and plenty of families engage, enjoy and move on from such discussions every year. However, there are so many hard feelings, so many passions – irrational and not – that this might be the year to keep conversations on other topics. If we’re spending the day expressing thanks, then we should do so even for relatives with whom we disagree on some of even our most firmly held beliefs. It is not a day to define ourselves by our differences and by the hardships we just might even partially blame on some of the people at our table.

It’s not a matter of squelching free speech. It isn’t a matter of control. It’s a matter of etiquette and one that expresses our understanding of what the holiday should be. Please, let none of us create or extend the chasm between our family members on the day we are to give thanks for the bounty this country has provided for us.

A handful of “experts” suggest cutting Thanksgiving dinner short to avoid contentious political debate. What a shame that would be – to be unable to spend as much time with our loved ones as possible because we just can’t set aside our differences long enough for warm family memories, loving one another – and pie.

This year, let good manners and good will reign, and let’s enjoy the holiday for what it is. Don’t we all want these occasions to be memorable for the right reasons?