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The Real Danger at Thanksgiving


Almost 51 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more away from their home this Thanksgiving according to AAA projections. This number represents the highest traffic volume over the Thanksgiving holiday since 2005. Most of the increase will be in air travel, due to cheaper air fares, but travel by train and bus is also expected to see growth. With gas prices and car rental prices higher than in recent years, a substantial increase in travel by car is not anticipated.

The normal precautions for travel over this busy holiday are advised: travel if possible during non-peak hours; pay attention to weather forecasts and avoid traveling if bad weather is predicted; make sure your car is prepared for the road and pack an emergency bag; stay alert and focused on the road; do not text and drive; and never drive while intoxicated.

All of the above is good advice to avoid or at least minimize the risks inherent in getting to your destination. But what about the dangers once you arrive?


Although holiday gatherings have long been fodder for late-night comedians and screen writers, the past two years have created an atmosphere where even civil discourse has proven to be beyond the reach of many friends and families. Last year, Thanksgiving was only weeks after Trump’s surprising victory, and much was written about people unable or unwilling to come together for even a holiday of gratitude in the midst of such deep division. One year later, and the division seems to be even worse.

Mention just about any topic—even the previously safe topic of weather brings a hotly contested debate about climate change, Hurricane Maria’s recovery efforts and the Paris accords—and you immediately become embroiled in a partisan argument. From race relations (think Charlottesville and Black Lives Matter) to civil rights (think equality in the work place, and LGBTQ issues), to immigration (think securing the border, DACA, and deportation) to the economy (think higher minimum wage, better jobs, and staying competitive globally), it seems that any discussion on these issues devolves into personal attacks on the speakers. What should be a civil conversation about important topics of the day instead becomes an ugly verbal assault on the presumed beliefs of the other person, or simply, the “other.”

Division in our country is not new. We have a long history of racial, socio-economic, political and even generational differences in our society. What is frighteningly new is each side of the divide being tone-deaf to the other. What is scary is the insistence of “doubling-down” rather than opening-up our minds and hearts to the other’s opinions, thoughts, ideas and needs. What will undermine our democracy is attributing inevitable differences and divisions to defects of the “other,” and then attempting to first marginalize and then get rid of altogether the “other.”


So where does this leave us for Thanksgiving dinner? If you are surrounded by people who think the way you do, you might get through the day and the meal with little controversy. But agreement on the many hot-button issues of the day is unlikely, so here are few “safety” tips on what is one of the biggest risks to a happy holiday—conversation:

  1. Remember to listen to everyone’s opinion, no matter how much it differs from your own;
  2. Avoid raising your voice, especially in an effort to speak over someone else;
  3. Do not make rude facial expressions or hand gestures;
  4. Try to find common ground in a topic, no matter how small the ground, and build on it (I would say that the behavior of Roy Moore and Charlie Rose would be a good place to start, but it seems that not even this type of egregious behavior is beyond dispute …)
  5. When all else fails, stop talking and watch a fun movie or football game.


If you or a loved one is injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact Dave Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm for a free consultation regarding your legal rights.

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Thomas Law Firm
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