My family was immune from the verbal pyrotechnics that sometimes plague the major clan-gathering events at year’s end — Thanksgiving and Christmas.
We celebrated neither.
We were not anti-American. We were Jewish and while you may understand us not hoisting a Christmas tree (although some of us did), many of us also didn’t make a groys handlen (Yiddish for big deal) over Thanksgiving. Reason: It falls near Hanukkah, the autumn family gathering. It is sometimes called “the Jewish Christmas.” It is not, although children do get gifts, but not from Santa. The spring gathering, and the more important one, is Passover, which celebrates freedom. It is not “the Jewish Easter.”
Anyway, that is my analysis.
Because my small family has been scattered for decades, and don’t get along anyway, we don’t gather so there are no political fights over the Thanksgiving table. We fight over the internet and during occasional visits.
Many families don’t fight at Thanksgiving only because tripwire topics are banned.
No, that is not a violation of your First Amendment rights. The 1st prohibits your government from silencing you. Your mother can always tell you to shut up.
Bans can create awkward silences.
At the start of the meal I would allow everyone to make a political statement of up to five minutes. One rule: Everyone sits in silence — no interruptions are tolerated. At the end of the soliloquy, everyone gets to applaud, boo, make rude gestures or animal sounds.
And then everyone talks about the children, recent movies or concerts, zoo visits, travel, family history, but not current events. Like, you know, the impeachment inquiry.
Off-limit subjects — in no particular order — include abortion, gun control, “safe” injection sites, the “stolen” election in Georgia, the electoral college, illegal immigration, taxes, tariffs, sheep shearing, climate change, Afghanistan, and how bad the Eagles suck.
Wait! We can discuss how bad the Eagles suck. We agree on that.
I’ve red-lined a lot of subjects. I feel obligated to greenlight some.
Here’s where Your Favorite Columnist comes to the rescue with conversation starters. Each guest selects a question, sight unseen, like from a job jar, and gives an answer. The question “Why?” should follow most answers.
If you could be a famous person for a week, who would that be?
Who was the most influential person in your life?
What two items would you save if your house were on fire?
Looking at the past, what’s the thing you miss most?
If you could eat only three foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
What was the last thing you did for the first time?
What is your favorite family tradition, and are you passing it on?
What would you make vanish forever?
What super power do you wish you had?
If you could live at any earlier time, what period would you choose?
Who is the person, living or dead, you would love to have dinner with?
How would you spend $100,000 won in the lottery?
What age would you like to be again?
If you were trapped in a TV show, which would it be?
What is your favorite way to spend a Saturday night?
Which president would you most like to see in a jail cell?
Oops, that slipped in by accident.