|PARODY OF NORMAN ROCKWELL'S "FREEDOM FROM WANT" (1942) / MODERN FAMILY|
(PORTIONS OF THIS POST WERE ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN 2015.)
These are the folks joining us again this Thanksgiving for our annual stuffed turkey, cranberry and brussels sprouts extravaganza.
Before dinner, we all crowd into the living room and listen to Alice's Restaurant for the umpteenth time. Then there's dinner, touch football in the back yard before pumpkin pie and ice cream for dessert, and brandy for the grown-ups while the kids play video games. Then we all watch Home Alone for the ump-umpteenth time before passing the Zantac and going our separate ways.
Despite all the turmoil in the old U.S. of A. and in our own lives, we all have oodles to be thankful for, as our grandson Toby puts it, again this year. I'd like to introduce each of us and explain why.
That's Toby on the left. He had an anxiety disorder that went untreated, and he fell behind in school. Then President Obama signed the Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act, which provides quality health care to kids like him. Today Toby is a straight-A student. (Well, maybe not in gym class.) But Republicans opposed renewing CHIP, even for children who were uninsured, and President Trump agrees.
Next to Toby is Courtney, or Curtsy as her brother Toby calls her. She went to work as a quality control technician at a pharmaceutical plant straight out of high school and eventually found out that she wasn't making as much as the men in her lab. She didn't mind the flirting, at least until her boss's boss grabbed her . . . you know, what the president-elect likes to grab, but getting paid less for doing the same work seemed unfair. Under the Obama administration-supported Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, she's now making the same. But Republicans oppose the act, and Mr. Trump agrees it should be repealed.
Next to Adrian is Matt and next to him is Armand. Matt and Armand are Iraq war veterans who happen to be gay. They have been living together for years and are very much in love, but weren't permitted to get married because of a state law until Mr. Obama's lawyers argued before the Supreme Court that their union is constitutionally protected like Mom's and mine. But Republicans adamantly oppose same-sex marriage and predict a social apocalypse. Never mind that there hasn't been one because Mr. Trump's Supreme Court will turn back the clock.
Next to Matt and Armand is Kelly. He struggles with a form of paralysis linked to contaminants from a Reagan era Superfund site where he played as a child. Then Obama signed the Reeve Paralysis Act, the first piece of comprehensive legislation aimed at improving the lives of Americans living with paralysis and backed embryonic stem-cell research into the causes of paralysis. But Republicans didn't want to fund the act and oppose anything to do with embryonic stem cells. Mr. Trump agrees.
That's Mom and me at the head of the table. I'll get back to us in just a sec.
Next to us is Adnan. He was an orphaned refugee from the civil war in Syria when Barbara and Frank adopted him last year. They were unable to find child care while they worked. Under an Obama administration program, money was provided for child care and his English teacher's job was saved through the president's Recovery Act. But Republicans opposed the program and Recovery Act, and oppose even orphaned war refugees being granted asylum. You know where Mr. Trump stands.
Next to Bart is Beverly, or The Bevster as her brother Toby calls her. She's asthmatic but couldn't afford health insurance when she decided to work for a veterinarian for a year before attending community college to become a vet tech, but because of the Affordable Care Act she can stay on her mom's policy until she's out on her own. But Republicans oppose all forms of health-care reform. You know where Mr. Trump stands.
Next to Beverly is her and her siblings' mom, Barbara. Obama's stimulus bill saved her job at the auto assembly plant and she is celebrating a big pay raise because of record sales and profits. (You may have noticed that she's wearing a new wig, which is the subject of some dinner-table tittering). But most Republicans opposed bailing out automakers, while you can expect Mr. Trump to eventually deport all those small Fords back to where they were manufactured -- in Mexico.
And finally there's Barbara's husband, Frank. He likes to joke that he's the Frank in Dodd-Frank, the financial reform legislation supported by Mr. Obama, and there's actually some truth to that. The agency created as part of Dodd-Frank to protect Americans against predatory lending saved their house from being taken when they couldn't keep up with usurious mortgage payments. But Republicans oppose any Wall Street regulation, and Mr. Trump is more than happy to oblige.
As for Mom and me, we too thank the president, and have done so every year when we say Grace.
We know Mr. Obama wasn't perfect, but we sure feel like middle class folks like us finally had a chance again. Also, we were able to install solar panels on the roof of our house because of his administration's generous tax incentives, and we're selling our surplus to the local utility. We also were able to get rid of our old car through his Cash for Clunkers program and buy an energy-efficient model. But Republicans are intent on making things tougher for the middle class through tax giveaways to corporations and the rich, and despite Mr. Trump's campaign promises, the reality is that people who love assault weapons also sometimes need food stamps and health care. Sorry!
The only person missing is our next-door neighbor Leo, who usually sat at the opposite end of the table from Mom and I.
Leo is a widower, poor guy, and lost his wife to cancer in 2008. It had gone untreated because their darned insurance company refused to write a policy when they found out she was ill. Leo would never blame the Republicans for that, although his wife once told Mom they were to blame. Anyhow, Leo said he wouldn't be joining us for Thanksgiving dinner in 2015 that darned Toby asked him if he was a racist at the Labor Day picnic because he flew a Confederate battle flag and had a Trump for President sticker on the rifle rack in the back window of his pickup truck. Toby caught Leo trying to scrape off the Trump sticker the other day, but he's too proud to admit he was wrong.
You can't choose your family, of course. Or your president, as it turns out. But we've been blessed, and hope your Thanksgiving will be as wonderful as ours. Uncle Frank likes to say that we "mustn't view everything through an ideological prison," so yes, our blessings even go out to the Republicans, Leo and his cherry red MAGA baseball cap buddies, and even our president even if the whole bunch of them are against everything we value and stand for.