Turkey, Pie and Politics? T-Day Family Friction

Thanksgiving dinner.
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In Minnesota, the issue dividing Jake Loesch's family isn't marijuana but gay marriage. Voters defeated a proposed amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage in the state, and Loesch, 24, of St. Paul, was deputy communications director for Minnesotans United for All Families — a group that fought the gay marriage ban. (It remains illegal under state law.)

Loesch is a conservative, like his huge family. He had difficult conversations with some aunts, uncles and grandparents when he took his recent job, and as the political season heated up, he tried increasingly to avoid the subject: "Having those conversations is healthy for the political process, but sometimes, when it's with family, it can be really, really hard."

But he found common ground with his grandmother, who is 85. She disagreed with his stance, but after the election, she posted on his Facebook wall: "Congratulations, Jake — even tho I didn't agree with your stance on the issue I will have to say you really put your heart and soul into your convictions — and I must say I'm proud of you!!!"

"Our family is very understanding of everybody's opinions," says Jake's grandmother, Bunny Arseneau. "We know where everybody stands because we're a very open family. Your opinion is your opinion and we respect you for it."

And so, Loesch says, he is hoping for the best at Thanksgiving — after all, they're still family. Adds his grandmother: "My father was of the old school. You never leave the house mad at each other, and you never go to sleep mad at each other."

As for the Marshalls in Massachusetts, there's hope that the political discourse, however charged, may at least carry some levity as well.

Last Friday night, some family members gathered at the home of Andrew's parents, in Hingham, Mass., for homemade pizza and wine — a dry run, maybe, for the bigger Thanksgiving dinner.

As a fire crackled in the fireplace, so did the political discourse.

"I did vote for Obama," noted Rebecca Malone, 27, Andrew's sister.

"Oh my God!" replied Andrew. "I didn't know that! You're out!"

But the family did find a few areas of agreement — for one thing, they all agreed on medicinal marijuana.

And though some voted for Democrat Elizabeth Warren for Senate, who won, and others didn't, they all agreed that outgoing Sen. Scott Brown was good-looking.

As the wine flowed, Andrew waxed philosophical.

"If we didn't care, we wouldn't sit here and battle," he said.

Added Anne, his liberal aunt: "And it's all so much more interesting than the Kardashians."

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    Associated Press writers Amy Forliti in Minneapolis, Bridget Murphy in Boston, Jay Reeves in Helena, Ala., and Kristen Wyatt in Denver contributed to this report.

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