Thanksgiving is almost here, and I’m a little worried. Emotions are still running hot over the election, and it might get pretty tense around the table between my older relatives who voted for Donald Trump and the younger generation who voted for Hillary Clinton. I’ve already started canvassing the family to request tolerance and understanding, and I have plans for a giant “No Politics” sign on the front door. Right now, though, it looks like I’m going to need professional help to get through the day.
As the mom and the person who makes everything except the turkey and the pumpkin pie (trust me, it’s still a lot of food), you would hope that I’d have some sway here. But even with my legal and mediation training, I doubt that my peacemaking skills will be enough for the day. If I could, I’d invite a few extra guests.
First, I’d invite Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (from the children’s book series by Betty McDonald) is one of my childhood heroes. Her magical cures are for children, but these days there are plenty of adults exhibiting childish misbehavior, whether online or face-to-face. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s cures for Answer-Backers, Fighter-Quarrelers, Bullies and Interrupters could all come in handy. I’m not sure I want Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s bossy parrot demonstrating the awfulness of “Answer-Backers” at my table, but I’d happily settle for some Leadership Pills and Interrupting Powder. Just imagine if family members consistently showed respect for those they disagreed with, and everyone was allowed to finish their thoughts without being interrupted. (I might have to give myself a dose of Interrupting Powder, come to think of it.)
Second, I’d include Mr. Spock, of “Star Trek” fame. (OK, I’ll admit it, I was in love with Mr. Spock when I was in middle school. Don’t judge me.) Aside from his intellectual prowess and dark good looks, I’d want him at my Thanksgiving table for two reasons: his logic, and his mind-melding skills. He could tactfully point out whenever anyone was making an illogical argument, and he could also perform his Vulcan mind-meld, allowing him to explain varying points of view to the other members at the table in a dispassionate manner. Maybe Mr. Spock could find a way to explain both the younger generation’s fears about racism, sexism and xenophobia and the security concerns of the Air Force veteran in language they could all understand. And no matter what, at least one person at the table would be calm.
Last, I’d invite Mary Poppins. Although “The Music Man” runs a close second, “Mary Poppins” has always been our family’s favorite movie. My husband even alluded to it in his finest hour as father of the bride last year.
If you recall, at the end of the movie, it was revealed that Mary Poppins’ mission all along had been to reconcile Mr. Banks with his children. Through a series of crazy adventures, she and Bert set out to help Mr. Banks recover the fun in life, so he could be a better father, while also explaining the stresses and pressures of fatherhood to his children, Jane and Michael.
At the end of the movie, the family is reconciled, and Mary Poppins flies away. Maybe Mary Poppins could work her magic in all of our homes, so that everyone had a deeper appreciation for each other. It might be a little awkward if our Thanksgiving table floated up to the ceiling, but if it was because everyone was laughing, that would be fine with me.
As my husband said last year in his speech, your children are your most precious gifts. So are your parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. I’m hoping we can all remember that and be thankful for each other this Thanksgiving, even without my fantasy guests.
But if things turn out badly, you can look for me down the street at our neighbor’s house. They had a “Neither” sign in their front yard. Maybe they’ll have an extra seat at the table.
Michelle Daniel Chadwick is a writer and an attorney living in Dallas, Texas.