Every year at this time in November, Americans, metaphorically speaking, shape their hands into a “T” and call “Time Out”. Thanksgiving is America’s “Time Out”, a fixed date in the calendar to retreat, reflect and renew. Above all, it is the one festival when people can put their differences to one side and come together – just for a day or two. Observed by pretty much everyone – in a way that Christmas isn’t – it has long been a powerful force for national unity.

This year, Thanksgiving has not come a moment too soon. The country is split right down the middle, riven by a wretched partisan politics that is infecting every facet of daily life. “I’m 89 years old and I have never seen anything like the current situation we are in,” tweeted Ed Asner, the celebrated Emmy Award-winning actor, on the eve of Thanksgiving. “I believe that we are headed for an internal conflict.”