Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner?

  | James Innes

Thanksgiving, one of the great American festivals, falls this year on November 24th. However, for some this year, the traditional celebrations have been marred by the recent bitter election debate, and more than one household will find themselves with an empty place or two around the dinner table.

For non-Americans, the celebration of Thanks giving dates back to the days of the early settlors who held a feast to give thanks for the bounty of the previous harvest. Whilst debate continues over when the first Thanksgiving was, the consensus view is that it dates back to 1621 when the harvest was celebrated by Pilgrims, Dutch settlers of the Plymouth Colony in what is now Massachusetts.

Many big cities hold Thanksgiving parades, the most famous of which is Macy’s parade in New York. There are also many (American) football games scheduled for the weekend across the country. For most Americans, however, the festival is long associated with family reunions, with millions flying or driving across America to reunite with loved ones and sit down to a traditional meal of turkey, stuffing and vegetables, followed by pumpkin pie.

However, as USA Today has reported, some Trump and Clinton supporters have found themselves uninvited from Thanksgiving dinners because of their political views. Sarah-Jane Cunningham, a 19 year old from Boston found her mother objected to posts she had made on Facebook about president-elect Trump. “She asked if I was going to be disrespectful to my family and I told her that it could go either way”, Cunningham said. “If the things I am saying are disrespectful to Trump supporters, the things they are saying are also disrespectful to me”. Her response got her uninvited to the family dinner in Maine. And whilst her mother called later to make it up, Cunningham plans to sit down alone with her two cats on Thursday.

She is not alone. Twitter is full of stories from both Trump and Clinton supporters relating how they have fallen out with family members and won’t be sitting down with them this Thanksgiving.

According to clinical psychologist Jamie M. Howard, the best strategy for trying to repair relationships with family members you don’t agree with is to try and avoid hot topics like politics during the holiday season. “People do get heated on things they feel passionately about” she said. “When you enter the conversation, don’t enter it trying to change someone’s mind or prove why you are right and they are wrong”. Howard also said that the history of America is built on different political parties and people thinking different things.

Hopefully by the time Thanksgiving 2017 rolls around, some of the current rifts will have healed and Americans can go back to sharing their turkey together. In the meantime, those who have a beef with family members supporting a different political party can console themselves it’s only once a year they have to see them.

Oh wait. There’s still Christmas to come!

Source: USA Today

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