Irrespective of your politics, no matter your football allegiances, the joy of Thanksgiving binds you with millions of others who are also celebrating togetherness. Some of us might gather with family and friends, while others might celebrate as a community of neighbors. Some will enjoy menu-staples, such as turkey and mash potatoes, while others might add their own personal touch to today’s dinner table.

Though we collectively enjoy today’s festivities, we might come together with others whose perspectives, experiences, and traditions don’t match our own.

Personally, I believe difference makes for much better conversation, challenges my worldview, and offers me the chance to step into the story of another’s life. To be entrusted in that way is a deeply humbling experience. But I’m not naïve to suggest that it is an easy exercise, so here are some tips.

  • Show up with curiosity, respect, authenticity, and a commitment to spending at least as much time listening — really listening — as you do speaking.
  • Appreciate the complexity of the human experience, because most people have a range of views on a range of topics, precisely because of their lived experiences.
  • Know that you can stay in close fellowship with others disagree with you, and it can feel unsettling, but that’s the only way forward.
  • Take comfort in knowing that most people, across the political spectrum, are united in their frustration with the state of our divisiveness and a desire for less of it.
  • Aiming for persuasion can end a conversation, while curiosity can expand one.

I hope these tips offer you the chance to connect in a way that’s different from year’s past, strengthen your relationships, and set a new standard for actualizing the values of civility and gratitude. Not only will you benefit, but our communities and country will be all the better for it.

Because a thriving democracy relies on each of us to do our part, in the ways we can, across the relationships we hold, so that we’re able to chart a just and prosperous future together. And I know we’re absolutely up to the task. From all of us at the American Immigration Council, I wish you a safe, healthy, and joyful Thanksgiving holiday.