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This Thanksgiving

November 16, 2016

I bought a Thanksgiving turkey on Election Day after casting my ballot. I had on my silly “I voted” sticker as I sorted through the frozen, plastic-wrapped, bulbous-shaped turkeys—so strangely removed from their real-life stateliness of puffed and upswept feathers. As I walked around the store I felt confident and anticipated the night ahead.

It has taken me a few days to even begin to sort my feelings following the outcome of the presidential election. There has hardly been enough time for me to even think about how to write about it. But here I am. And here we are. And I will try, like all those of good faith, to make sense of how all of us can proceed together.

Friends on Facebook are crowing: “Rural America has spoken.” And, yes, I get that. I am a natural born liberal (I say this despite my dislike of labels), who grew up here in upstate New York, surrounded by conservatives. I know rural, upstate people are struggling. They feel patronized, forgotten and swept aside by the prominence of the city. Moreover, the economic stagnation that has characterized our communities for decades drove many kind and decent people to grab onto the coattails of Donald Trump, a xenophobic and completely unqualified contender for the presidency. (And, in my opinion, the worst of two flawed candidates.)

According to CBS News, Trump won in rural American by two to one. But, in asserting that rural voice, have these disregarded people forgotten the voices of other marginalized people? Or am I also forced to acknowledge the underlying racism of some neighbors and friends? And, in the end, what are we really to think of a populist movement that didn’t even win the popular vote?

The nuanced causes and repercussions of this election will be chewed over for years by many more qualified and thoughtful than I. In the meantime, we need to recognize that all Americans are hoping for something better and work toward our common goals for the benefit of all.

Thanksgiving is upon us.

This Thanksgiving, as we set our tables for our friends and family, let us remember the beginnings of this first American holiday. This contentious election season has left us all weary. The joke of the divided and argumentative family gathered together to fight cannot be lost on us this year. Remember the Native Wampanoag tribes who welcomed the Pilgrims—themselves refugees escaping war and religious persecution—to their table. This Thanksgiving let us take the opportunity to heal our families and our country. And most importantly, as our native hosts did at that first Thanksgiving feast, let us extend our welcome to all.