It's Thanksgiving week, and like basically everything else about 2020, this holiday is on track to be...let's call it "different." But while the world has changed in innumerable ways this year, one thing that hasn't changed is that the country is deeply politically divided. And those divisions and tensions run right through a lot of families preparing to gather around a Thanksgiving dinner table. (By "gather around a table," we of course mean, "sit on your couch while balancing your laptop on one knee and your Boston Market holiday feast on the other.")
So on the pod this week, we're revisiting our attempt to answer the age-old Thanksgiving question: How do you deal with family members who have really, really different political beliefs than you? We first tackled this question back in 2016, right after Donald Trump was elected president — remember that? And somehow, the fraughtness of talking politics with loved ones seems to have gotten even more intense than it was when we first aired the episode. Yet we persist.
And while you're here, here are some of our favorite vintage pieces about Thanksgiving from the Code Switch blog and our play cousins across NPR. Feel free to browse through them when you need a distraction from your problematic uncle going on a Zoom diatribe.
For Many Native Americans, Fall Is The Least Wonderful Time Of The Year
Former NPR news assistant Savannah Maher is a citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Nation, and over the years, she's had to answer the same question every fall — "Do Indians celebrate Thanksgiving?" Between that, football season and Columbus Day, autumn is fraught for Native folks, she wrote back in 2017: "To be Indigenous in fall is to feel hyper-exposed and, at the same time, invisible."
How To Enjoy Thanksgiving Without Swallowing The Stereotypes
As part of our "Ask Code Switch" column, editor Leah Donnella tackled a question from a parent uneasy about passing on Thanksgiving traditions to her young son, thanks to the holiday's messy origins. Leah's advice? Make sure Thanksgiving isn't your children's introduction to Indigenous people — and make sure you're exposing them to books and knowledge about contemporary Native folks, lest your kids mistakenly get the impression that Native culture is a thing of the past.
A Code Switch Thanksgiving Feast
On this 2017 Thanksgiving episode of the pod, we talked to Lin-Manuel Miranda about Puerto Rico, a parenting expert about tense family gatherings, and a Native professor about the truth behind the holiday. And for desert, the debate of our time: pumpkin pie or sweet potato pie? [Editor's note: Let's bring pecan back into the discourse.]
This Thanksgiving, Looking Forward To A Respite From The Hydrant Of Terribleness
Some things never really change, do they? Back in 2016, co-host Gene Demby wrote about looking forward to a Thanksgiving meal with family, after the awfulness that was the 2016 presidential election cycle, writing: "The only real rancor I expect will be directed at the surprisingly and irritatingly, not-currently-mediocre Dallas Cowboys, who we, as proper Philadelphians, have been raised to rightly detest." Large gatherings with family and friends? We really didn't know how good we had it back in 2016.
Cross-Cultural Menu Ideas For A Code Switch Thanksgiving
It's no secret that most Thanksgiving food, prepared the traditional (white) American way, is trash. So we put out a call to our readers: How do you make your turkey taste...well, not bland and dry? How do you make your mashed potatoes pop? And how do you avoid making turkey sandwiches for days from leftovers? And boy, did our readers deliver some delicious, cross-cultural answers, ranging from tandoori turkey to using mofongo as a stuffing. Dig in.
What Educators Need To Know About Teaching Thanksgiving
For many Americans, the beginning of their (mis-)education about Thanksgiving takes place in school. (Odds are that you did some arts and crafts featuring Pilgrim hats and feather headdresses, right?) So in this 2018 article, Mayowa Aina talked to educators about how they teach the story of Thanksgiving — and how schools all over the country can do better. Some takeaways? Bring Native perspectives and stories into the classroom, and don't just talk about Native history when fall rolls around.
Happy (Harm Reduction) Thanksgiving!
As COVID cases are spiking to never-before-seen levels across the country, public health experts have begged people to stay home for Thanksgiving. But knowing that people will still be gathering with their friends and family, our play cousins at Short Wave put together a guide to harm reduction on Turkey Day to downgrade the risk of getting sick. If you're dead set on gathering with other people this year, take a listen.
How To Make Better, Prettier Pies: Advice From Self-Taught Baker Lauren Ko
On a lighter note, our own Shereen Marisol Meraji joined NPR's Life Kit podcast to talk a topic near and dear to our hearts: pie! She spoke to Lauren Ko, author of the new cookbook Pieometry, about her tips for upgrading your dessert game. Our mouths are watering just looking at the pictures of beautifully sculpted pie.