Theater Latté Da brings back its deeply moving production of “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914” in December, which I highly recommend to anyone hungry for an infusion of humanity as this unusual year wraps up.
But there’s no time like the present — and I mean today — to imagine what it took for the young soldiers of this true tale, British and German, to lay down their weapons in a poetic pause during World War I.
To sing Christmas carols together. To share warm drinks and, according to old letters and interviews, even play a game of soccer with makeshift balls and goalposts.
I don’t think we should just imagine what it took for them to do all that. I think we should practice it.
I’m proposing the Great Turkey Truce of 2016. Are you in?
I ask because I cannot believe the stories I’m hearing and reading. One young couple have apparently changed the date of their wedding and moved the ceremony to Italy to keep out a grandmother and aunt who didn’t vote the way they did.
Others will spend today, this supreme family day, apart for the first time. Another family has canceled Christmas plans.
I hear these stories and I worry that one shortsighted decision will lead to greater awkwardness among kin as the months and years go by. That we’ll create a habit of staying away, leading to conversations with our sweet, wide-eyed progeny that are some version of this:
“Oh, sweetheart, we don’t talk to Grandma/Grandpa/Uncle Jake/Aunt Julie/Cousin Lou anymore because, well, there was this election five/10/20 years ago. …”
A truce doesn’t mean we don’t ever tackle our differences. It means we wait until all is calm.
But on this Thanksgiving, let’s take on the role of “best self.” That means we don’t agree to disagree. We agree to avoid political talk, all of us, completely.
Instead, we ask about college coursework and travel plans and, “Is there brandy in that delicious pecan pie?” (and, of course, one hopes so).
We recommend movies and say, “Can you believe that autumn we got?” and “Isn’t that a lovely brooch?”
We give thanks for abundance in a world where hunger still ravages so many.
We watch football.
We bite our tongues.
I know how difficult this can be. After many, many years of practice, deep breathing and probably too much wine consumption on occasion, I will be surrounded at my Thanksgiving table by my cherished annual turkey team:
My longtime beau, my mom, my ex, his wife, her kids, my kids, my aunt and uncle and a few young friends who may or may not decide to eventually marry into this wacky clan.
This table was not put together quickly or effortlessly. But time and perspective heal a lot of wounds and reveal truths you seldom see right away.
One biggie is that everybody has something that makes him or her feel small.
Another is that everybody wants to be heard, and deserves to be.
So, please do not stop trying to love these people.
A turkey truce allows us to step back, so that we may sit down together.
To pass the gravy and take stock.
To lay down our arms, so that we may open them.