Thanksgiving is upon us. A day of food, family, and friends. A day of giving thanks for all our good fortune.
And with it, the prospect of strife at the dinner table.
Democrats vs. Republicans
Rex Sox fans vs. Yankees fans
Carnivores vs. vegans
Beatles vs. Stones
Cat people vs. dog people
Mouth breathers vs. nose breathers
These feuds can sometimes ruin an otherwise festive holiday. I’ve witnessed a few of these turkey day battles in my time, and I’ve participated in a few as well.
In fact, I’ve angered the fathers of girlfriends on Thanksgiving to the point shouting at least three times in my life.
I once encouraged folks around the table to pass on food they don’t like while the father – a self-proclaimed chef – watched in horror at the rebellion that I’d stirred.
Eventually he and I had words.
I once repeatedly left the room every time the father of a girlfriend made a racially insensitive remark. That father eventually realized what I was doing and had words with me.
I was also once, (unbeknownst to me) fed my pet rabbit on Thanksgiving, which eventually caused a bit of a row.
I’ve also argued economics during the height of the Great Recession with family members who didn’t know a credit default swap from a toxic asset, debated the future of the NFL with my father-in-law, and argued the stupidity of trickle-down economics with my uncle when I was about fourteen years-old.
I drew a political cartoon that year to make my point, and decades later, my aunt sent me that cartoon. She had saved it for me.
None of these incidents made for a good Thanksgiving. I’m a guy who loves to argue, but not on Thanksgiving. Today is the last day that anyone should be verbally sparring, and yet we do.
When you see an argument erupting this year or you feel like the family is on the verge of an argument, here is my suggestion:
Tell a story.
Rather than jumping into the fray with disagreement and debate, try to tell a story instead. Return civility and joy to the table by capturing the imagination of your friends and family with an entertaining return to the past. Rise above the ruckus with something like:
“Guess what happened to me last week!”
“I attended quite the birthday party a few months ago!”
“Do you remember the Christmas when the raccoon broke into the house and tore open a bunch of the Christmas presents?”
That last one really happened. I had a pet raccoon as a kid. He managed to sneak into the house on Christmas Eve.
I should tell that story someday.
Maybe I’ll tell it at the Thanksgiving Day table this year.
Anything is better than a fight.