Talking turkey at the holiday table

Print More
Andy Sauer

Andy Sauer

It’s been a hard election year. Lots of harsh words have been said. A lot of people, including myself, are absolutely bewildered at how so many could have such a passionate opinion so diametrically opposed to their own. That population has likely been reduced to and represented by a single face that represents all that is wrong with the other side. And, you have or will probably sit across from them at a large dinner table with a turkey or some kind of roasted fowl. Happy Holidays!

If you count yourself as someone whose family is uniform in its beliefs and principles, you have been blessed with a peaceful holiday. Mazel Tov!

If you are like the rest of us and have that one relative who’s got to relive the entire election season Crossfire-style, buckle up.

The holiday table seems to draw out debate. Two years ago, my parents, who have different opinions than that of my wife and me, came for Thanksgiving. My wife and I carefully avoided the trigger topics of the day, focusing on peaceful subjects. Hours elapsed uneventfully. We sat at the table, and within in minutes of saying grace, my mother said “so, let’s talk about what’s happening in Ferguson (the Michael Brown shooting).”

With the exception of The Last Supper, I don’t think anything of consequence has ever followed a holiday dinner debate. While lively and at times funny and educational, it is utterly pointless and simply not worth the risk of strained familial relations.

Nothing brings out the peculiarities in family dynamics like a holiday laden with the pressure of perfection and remembrance. We like to think of a family as a single entity united by love and relations. As we assemble around a table, we exemplify that unity. However, we are all individuals with our own thoughts and opinions, and it doesn’t take long for our individuality to want to assert itself. Who hasn’t experienced the exhilaration of staking out their identity before their family? Unfortunately, once one person imbibes the sweetness of familial liberation, everyone wants a taste. That’s when the trouble begins.

Those who have tried forbidding expressions of individuality at the holiday table may have found that they have only made it more tempting.

Perhaps the answer might be to just allow it. Let them fly their freak flags, under the proviso that a form of individual expression does not have to be an act of familial conversion.

Just say what you want to say and pass the potatoes. Is that so hard?

Comments are closed.