Many people naturally assume that since I work in political journalism, I must breathe, drink and eat politics 24/7/365 — including on the Thanksgiving holiday.
The thought of it gives me indigestion.
Self-absorbed creatures who have no life outside the Beltway world are the most tiresome ogres. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest advised Americans "sitting around the Thanksgiving table" to talk about gun control. The left-wing National Memo published "5 Things To Tell Your Republican relatives at Thanksgiving." And The New York Times served up its own version of "How to Talk to Your Relatives About Politics at Thanksgiving," stuffed with poll data and hyperlinks to other liberal sources of information.
Nobody needs tryptophan when you've got Pundy McPundit (amateur, professional or otherwise) at the table to bore your company to death with his or her insights on "climate-proofing" your holiday feast; bombard you with details about Bernie Sanders' latest Web ad; regurgitate John Kasich's latest attacks on critics of his massive Medicaid expansion; or champion Jeb Bush's latest re-re-re-reboot (two exclamation points, new talking points, a fix-it toolbox, blah, blah blah).
I feel sorry for rabid partisans on either side of the aisle who refuse to talk to family members, co-workers or friends who support a candidate they don't like. Life's too short — and 99 percent of all politicians are crapweasels, anyway.
I've encountered unhinged hotheads who yelled at me in front of my kids at IHOP over my appearances over the years on Fox News. Way to ruin a Funny Face Pancake moment, one-dimensional oafs.
And I've known people who shunned my left-leaning in-laws because they refused to denounce their conservative daughter-in-law. Gotta love the Tolerance Brigade.
Newsflash: Even amid a heated campaign season, global jihadist terror and economic insecurity, there is more to life than #WINNING political arguments.
It shouldn't be a struggle to avoid yelling about Bush, Clinton or Trump as you pass the sweet-potato casserole. Don't get mad. Get perspective. Here, let me help:
If your children are alive, free and healthy, count your blessings and say a prayer for all those parents spending the holiday week in hospitals, hospices, clinics, jails or funeral homes.
If you can't think of something nice to say to the person sitting next of you, trade memories of the dearest, departed loved ones you share a connection with who are no longer sitting at the table at all.
Pick up an instrument and play music together or sing some old hymns of Thanksgiving ("We Gather Together" was always my favorite).
Take a walk, breathe fresh air, go out on the deck and make fire pit s'mores (or use the gas grill).
Show the young ones at your gathering how to make rubberband stars, advanced paper airplanes, origami hearts or crochet snowflakes.
Get silly. Play "Charades" or "Spoons" or "Balderdash." Laugh at yourself and laugh with your relatives.
Don't take family time for granted. Ever. You never know when your time will be up. It would be ridiculous if the very last, parting words you traded with an elderly uncle or sibling or cousin you rarely get to see were "You're an idiot for voting for (fill in the blank)!" instead of "I love you."
Look up at the stars. Remember how small and insignificant you are in the universe.
Finally: When you gather 'round the turkey, try not to be one.