According to front page stories everywhere, America is bracing for a tense holiday weekend.
Our biggest seasonal challenge used to be arranging the place cards to keep Drunk Uncle’s hands away from Junior’s girlfriend. After years of practice, most families have survival strategies for annual airings of grievances over who Mom loves best. But is there enough Xanax in Grandma’s medicine cabinet to take the edge off the First Thanksgiving After Trump?
Probably not, so here are some Hatfield & McCoy-tested conflict avoidance game plans to help politically divided families Trump the blues and drain the bile from the crankiest Clinton supporters.
1. Mindless television: For a bipartisan bonding experience, gather the Rs, the Ds, the Bernie Brigade and the Never-Trumpers ’round your screen for a binge-watch of Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party. Elderly felon Martha Stewart and middle-aged stoner Snoop Dogg join forces to name drop and drop live lobsters into boiling water. The show is taped before a live audience of appreciative drunks, and you’ll want a martini, too, as Martha regales Snoop with a story about Barbra Streisand’s fondness for free-standing toilet paper holders. Snoop reciprocates by turning Martha on to Golden Oreos.
The only way this show could be improved is if Snoop and Martha taped at The Villages.
2. Clean out closets: Screw your courage to the sticking place and deal with that room where Christmas 1957’s board games, books, and stuffed animals went to die. Every community has a church, synagogue, mosque or domestic violence shelter that will wrap stuff that you’ve used once, or never, in holiday ribbons and put it directly in the hands of some man, woman, or child who may find life-changing meaning and encouragement in the small kindnesses of strangers.
3. Thank somebody who’s not expecting it: A while back, a Tallahassee doctor who provided birth control pills to FSU freshmen at the dawn of the sexual revolution got a handwritten, snail-mail thank you note from a patient he surely did not remember. But she never forgot “that doctor on the east side” who treated her with respect and understanding in that not-too-distant time when young women couldn’t obtain a credit card, much less contraceptives, without a husband to “take responsibility.”
Genuine expressions of gratitude require genuine effort. Pushing a like button on your iPad is not the same thing as a card, a letter, or a cup of hot chocolate with the neighbor lady who used to patronize your high school band’s candy sales, whether she wanted candy or not. We all have people who helped us along the way and most of them will never know how much it mattered. Thanksgiving is a good time to track them down and tell them.