Monday’s USA Today featured a story suggesting that families are disinviting friends and loved ones to their Thanksgiving celebration based on who they voted for in this year’s contentious presidential election.
Other news outlets like the New York Times and the Wall St. Journal are filing similar reports. Across the nation we’re hearing that people feel like they just can’t bridge the divide caused by political differences. In addition to being disinvited to holiday tables, many who are going somewhere are dreading the family get-together. Others are choosing to avoid the hassle and celebrate separately.
Are the reports accurate or exaggerated? Is this just another example of media making a mountain out of a mole hill?
There’s no question that emotions are still running high, but if President Obama and President-elect Trump could sit down and civilly engage one another, why can’t their respective supporters (or those who supported neither) do the same?
If you think about it, these seemingly insurmountable differences between friends, family and countrymen echo the division that characterized the first modern-day Thanksgiving in 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln issued his proclamation asking Americans to recognize God’s many blessings on the nation.
President Lincoln hoped the Thanksgiving celebration would help bring together a country torn apart by the issue of slavery. So despite the death and devastation of the Battle of Gettysburg just three months before, Lincoln wrote:
“The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”
Surveying the scene in 2016, the eloquent words of our sixteenth president are timeless and still true. How blessed we are to live in the United States of America. Our challenges are real and significant. Only a Pollyannaish idealist would suggest otherwise. But as Christians, we have every reason to be hopeful and grateful for what is – and what is yet to be!
I want to close with an observation from popular author and Focus broadcast guest, Dr. Tim Keller. Some time ago, the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City was preaching on Proverbs 14:13: “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief.”
It’s a sober biblical reality, Tim asserted, that earthly happiness is fast and fleeting. For example, take the composition of those seated around your Thanksgiving table this year. Look around it. There is one person there who will watch everyone else die. A depressing thought? Perhaps. But in that verse Solomon was trying to remind us that we’re not ultimately created for this world but the next.
Given the brevity of life, would you really want to exclude someone over a political difference of opinion? I hope not.
Please let me know in the comments section below how you and your family are navigating the hyper-sensitized climate post-election. From the Daly family to yours, a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving!