For the past couple of years, our family has gathered for our Thanksgiving meal on the Saturday following the “proper” Thursday; it allows those coming in from the coasts to get better airfares, and those with “other” families to split their time equitably among relatives. So–although there seems to be some sentiment for a return to the traditional day of celebration–yesterday was our big meal.
And big it was! 22 people around three tables. Two turkeys, and multiple dishes, many assigned to children and siblings in advance. (My sister always brings the sweet potatoes–our daughter brings veggies, my daughter-in-law’s usually stuck with appetizers.)
I know that Thanksgiving is an ordeal for many people, a time of enforced conviviality with seldom-seen relatives who pry or judge, disagree politically, are more or less religious or are otherwise less than pleasant. But the thing I’m most grateful for is a family that isn’t at all like that. Our family includes not just blood relatives, but long-time friends, and relatives of relatives. This year, we welcomed the parents of my nephew’s partner. (My sister and brother-in-law have decided that even if it doesn’t work out between Josh and Michael, they’re keeping Michael’s parents!) We had nephews from both coasts, cousins from Florida, a son from New York, all our children and all but one of our grandchildren (our oldest granddaughter lives in England–she was missed!)
I’m probably biased, but I think our Thanksgiving table(s) are a perfect reflection of America.
We have Jews, Protestants, Catholics,Buddhists and atheists. We have gays and straights. We have native-born Americans and immigrants.
What we don’t have any more, I realized yesterday, are Republicans. And that’s interesting, because fifteen years ago, most of the people at my Thanksgiving tables were Republican. My sister used to poll her neighborhood for her precinct committee person. My brother-in-law was showing some disquieting signs of imminent “Fox-afication.” My husband and I were still hanging in, believing–hoping–that the sharp-right tilt of the party we’d worked for so long was a temporary aberration. A couple of the kids had already deserted, and several of us were getting uneasy, but like so many others, we had deep, longstanding ties to the GOP. We were loyal.
On the other hand….
We would all describe ourselves as socially liberal and fiscally conservative. We are all–every single one of us, whatever our religious beliefs, national origins or sexual orientations–pro-science. Pro-empirical evidence. Pro-diversity. Pro-reality.
And so here we were, this year, a now group composed entirely of Democrats and Independents. A group of people who favor reproductive choice and same-sex marriage, and worry about global climate change.
There’s a lesson for the GOP here, and I hope the party learns it. The country needs two credible political parties, and if our family is typical (and I think it is), we’ve pretty much lost one.