As much as most of us enjoy family gatherings, they’re often precarious, fraught with topics best left unmentioned. Given the growing political division in the country, it’s likely that every loved one around the table won’t be of the same political stripe, even here in Alabama, where most people are firmly settled into the conservative category.

The Greek statesman Pericles may well have been right in 430 B.C. when he pointed out, “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.”

That doesn’t mean you should rise to the bait today should someone broach the topic at the Thanksgiving table.

Many families and friends will gather today for a Thanksgiving feast. Some people will travel many miles for the opportunity to spend time with loved ones, which is really the point. It’s not really about the food, but fellowship, camaraderie and memory making.

The modern Thanksgiving should be a time to reflect upon our blessings, and realize the gratitude we should express for the people and circumstances that enrich our lives.

To set the stage for such introspection, every gathering should come with a set of ground rules for polite company. No talk of contentious social issues. Football — particularly in our corner of the world — remains fair game.

Politics should be off the table entirely.

Robert Louis Stevenson once quipped that politics “is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is thought necessary.” He might well have meant “for which no preparation of thought is necessary,” as politicians and their supporters, critics and apologists all too often speak without thinking.

After you’ve tucked into the turkey and have settled back to enjoy the company of those around you, consider carefully what topics the conversation moves to and strive to steer clear of matters in which most have already solidified their positions.

As another wise Greek statesman, Solon, counsels, “In all things that you do, consider the end.” And should a politically charged melee break out, do us all a favor and turn your cellphone to landscape position when recording the fracas for posterity.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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