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November 22, 2016

What to do if turkeys around your table turn Thanksgiving dinner into a political football

Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away, and perhaps the biggest reason to give thanks is that the Eagles do not have to play at Dallas against the Cowboys.

The way the Cowboys are playing, that could have truly ruined Thanksgiving dinner. Instead, there is another reason to worry about wrecking the family gathering this holiday – it’s called politics.

The recent election has not only divided the nation, but it also divided families – and matters could truly get ugly around the turkey on Thanksgiving Day. So, with no background in politics, we offer a primer on how to deflate the political problems around dinner by using local sports as a calming balm:

When your cousin Vinny starts complaining about the possible loss of social security, avoid the temptation to stuff his mouth with the roasted Brussels sprouts. Instead, take the time to praise the play of Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

Tell him that before he's eligible for social security, Wentz will bring the Eagles to a Super Bowl. Then, think out loud that if cousin Vinny doesn’t stop stuffing his face with food he will never reach the age of social security.

Going round the table again, when your dimwitted brother-in-law Franklin stands up to announce that Donald Trump is a this-and-that, avoid the urge to throw the bowl of cranberry sauce in his general direction. Rather, suggest that by the time Trump actually takes office, there is a good chance that Joel Embiid will finally be a full-time player.

In fact, imply that the Sixers might climb into the playoffs as early as next season. You might even go further and remind good old Franklin that Ben Simmons still has not played a game and that the Sixers are on their way to great things.

If you then find that none of this has stopped your brother-in-law from spouting off about Trump, you can then launch a yam in his direction.

Now then, the situation with your grandmother might be a bit more tenuous. There is great importance on respecting your elders, so it should be with great trepidation you address this problem.

Thus, when grandma remarks that she is distressed that Hillary Clinton lost, you might be best served if you do not shout out “Put a sock in it, you old liberal dope.”

Nope, not a good idea. The more intelligent approach might be to remind grandma that she has seen such great progress for women since Title IX, and, by the way ... don’t you think the U.S. Women's Soccer team members should be paid more money?

You can actually pretend that somebody cares about that issue, and then try to ignore the gravy running down grandma’s chin.

Not to be outdone, the situation could really get ugly when gramps stands up to make his feelings known – and that he doesn’t agree with his wife of 40 years. In fact, he begins to indicate that anybody who voted for Hillary was dumber than the turkey on the table.

Given this situation, you must reconsider your desire to hand grandma the knife and sit back to watch her carve up her husband. The safer course of action would be to steer the conversation toward the Phillies, a team gramps has watched for his entire life.

You can strive to direct his anger toward a Phillies team that is still trying to find its way. You can bring him back to the days of Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Charlie Manuel.

Your hope will be that he starts crying in his glass of cheap wine, and then you can remind him that he hasn’t voted since 1948, and direct him to a stack of old VHS tapes in the basement where he can spend the late afternoon watching episodes of All In the Family.

He will be happy and so will the rest of the family.

Now, the real problem will occur if you have a younger couple at the table, perhaps a pair of millennials. It could be it’s your 25-year-old son who brought his 23-year-old girlfriend to the event.

Bad enough that you had to endure an afternoon of watching her flip up her nose ring every time she takes a bite of food, but the real problem will occur when the two of them start to cry when another family member brings up support for Trump.

Do not – repeat – Do NOT suggest they grow up and deal with the election in grown-up terms. Steer clear of a desire to have them curl up with the family dog in the corner and sob.

Better that you show concern for the two of them. Remind them that it’s only four years, and by the time the next election comes around they might actually have watched the Flyers play for a Stanley Cup with a defense led by Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov, and Captain Travis Konecny.

Then too, you might be best to stay away from a follow-up statement that all of those guys are years younger than the two at the table – and look where THEY are in life.

Oh well, if none of that works, just make sure you have a pair of ear plugs and a big appetite.

Happy Thanksgiving!