It’s the most dangerous time of the year: a potential minefield of holiday family get-togethers laid out end-to-end right smack in the middle of an idyllic Christmas tree-lined lane between you and a happy new year.
So far so good. You’ve nearly made it all the way through the meal, finishing up the turkey and stuffing, making sure to save a little room for Aunt Jean’s famous pumpkin pie, when it seems like everyone suddenly decides to unload on you all at once.
If you’re a leftie, they demand that you personally atone for the fake climate crisis, the attack on the second amendment, rampant illegal immigration, and the mainstream media’s lapdog relationship with the far left.
If you’re a rightie, they complain about the president’s general ineptitude in office, Russia’s influence on the 2016 election, taking power from citizens and giving it to corporations, sabotaging health care, and undoing environmental regulations.
Chance of pie: Well, at this point, it largely depends on you. If you take the bait and knowingly step on the trip wire, expect to be having your pumpkin pie at Marie Callender’s. Don’t worry; they’ll be open because you’ll be leaving extra early.
The correct response is always something like: “Uncle Jack, please pass the cranberry sauce.” The point being, there’s simply no benefit to having these battles with our families; the people we love. The battle is not at the dinner table — or in the workplace for that matter — it’s out there on the streets; in town halls; and, ultimately, in the polling booth.
Sure, you might end up enjoying your Thanksgiving pie at Marie Callender’s anyway, but your digestion will be much better. And with any luck, everyone will be better behaved in a few weeks … at Christmas dinner.
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I thought I’d finished this piece days ago but something just isn’t right. I’m in bed scribbling in the dim light on a pulpy steno pad, my laptop dozens of chilly steps away.
Recently, television images of hungry Middle East refugees have filled my thoughts — perhaps yours too. One evening I watched as a man walked away from a UN relief truck, loaf of bread in hand. Most of the people there didn’t get any food that day. He looked like he was thinking how lucky he was to have been standing in just the right place when the food was distributed.
So, if that was luck, what do you call the stuff we’ve got?
I’ve worked hard to get what I have, yes, but I’ve been lucky, too: Like finding my ‘68 Strat in that little music shop. Like somehow stumbling into my future wife’s path, knee-weak lovely then, much more than that now. And our fantastic kids. And our place in the rural So Cal backcountry with its perennially perfect weather
But all of that could fit under the category of “you make your own luck.” There’s another kind of luck entirely that Americans more than any other people on earth acknowledge at this time of year; the one Thanksgiving is all about. The kind of luck to have been born into this country, with its incalculable riches; wise, industrious ancestors; and unbounded opportunities. Or to be living in this amazing time, troubles and all.
Or simply: to be living.
Thanksgiving is America’s best day because it embodies the very soul of a people almost bewildered with gratefulness for all they’ve been given. It’s not the day we feel guilty we have more than others or complain someone has more. It’s the day we collectively shake our heads with wonder and say, “Wow.”
From my Thanksgetting family to yours, mansion or motor home, leftie or right, bless you today and every day. Do well. Succeed. We’re all living the good life. We’ve already received more than most of us will ever be able to give. But let’s try anyway. We don’t ever want our children to wonder what this day was about.
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Multiple award-winning author Charles Carr has written thousands of columns and articles for many publications. He is also an noted playwright whose current show, “It’s a Wonderful Christmas Carol,” is in pre-production at the California Center for the Arts. Contact him at charlescarr.com.