Clarice's Pieces: A Very American Thanksgiving

Community organizers, like most Democrat candidates, gain power by dividing people and by emphasizing what distinguishes groups (sex, age, religion, race, ethnic background). They promise that they will "fight for you" -- that is, fight for spoils for the group from whom they are seeking support or votes. Thus, if, for example, you can be made to believe that all Democrat candidates are better for women, blacks, and Hispanics and you are a member of one or more of these groups, then you act in your own best interests only when you vote for Democrats. If there are any Republican women, blacks, or Hispanics running as Republicans, they must be treated especially harshly, as they are clearly traitors to your cause. Little effort is made to enunciate the candidate's policy notions or on the part of the media to examine in depth his views or qualifications for elective position.

For some time, as if we were a nation of half-literate third-worlders, this game has helped the left. The midterms put paid to this gambit. You can win the presidency by cobbling together a series of balkanized constituencies, but sooner or later, most voters will catch on that policy and competence matter, that bloc voting inevitably leads to corruption and criminal actions by elected officials, and that electing people far below the level of competency required for their positions results in truly awful governance and misery all around.

In the United States, there is another reason why such political strategies are doomed to failure, and Thanksgiving reminds me clearly why: More and more, we live in blended families, and in our daily activities, we have sufficient contact with one another to recognize that different people share the same desires for clean, competent governance -- not some political advantage over others -- which offers us all the most opportunity for advancement and happiness.

For several years now, in recognition of the fact that the younger generation has moved to the West Coast and has less flexibility about travel than the older generation, we have gathered from around the country at the home of my son and daughter-in-law in Los Angeles.

We are grateful that we are physically and financially able to make the journey. Every year, some can't make it for one reason or another, but ever since my daughter-in-law Judy started this, it has been a tradition in which everyone tries hard to participate.

Even my 91-year-old mother flew all by herself from south Florida across the country, as she does every November, to spend time with her children, grandchildren, and great-granddaughter.

For my husband and me, the journey began at Dulles airport. The last two times we traveled from there, the lines of passengers waiting to be screened were long and slow-moving. It wasn't because there was a shortage of TSA employees. In fact, the area was full of them, but apparently there were only two or three of them, all in one of the fancy new screening areas, capable of handling the equipment. This time, all the screeners were active, all the aisles were working, and all the TSA staff were pleasant and helpful. I should mention that because of the widespread fuss about the back-screening and pat-downs and the threat of passenger protests, there was a TV camera crew on site, filming the procedure. I saw none of the backscatter machines in use, and no pat-downs occurred in my view. I think TSA knows the protest is growing against the notion that old ladies with walkers have to be thoroughly screened  lest more likely terrorist candidates be offended by rational profiling. The rage at this kind of nincompoopery, based on identity politics (CAIR will complain) at the expense of common sense, will not quickly be dissipated by the Potemkin Thanksgiving screening show. TSA will have to permanently change course, devising another, more rational, less politically correct system for frequent fliers, aged and infirm passengers, and children.

From LAX we drove to our destination by cab, the driver of which was obviously an immigrant. We could not quite place the accent, but he appeared Iranian. He spoke to us of his pride in his daughter, a UCLA student who planned to continue there for law school. We shared wishes for a happy Thanksgiving. I cannot imagine why there might be any enmity between us, and there wasn't. He was proud to be an American, happy to share this glorious holiday, and thrilled with the opportunities (denied him elsewhere) which his children had found in this land of their resettlement.

My daughter-in-law's father (now deceased) was a Japanese-American who, along with his parents and sister, were interned in World War II. Her mother "Mitzi" is Japanese-born. Our particular family tradition is sushi and turkey. Because Mitzi makes so much glorious sushi, we have the sushi on the night before Thanksgiving and the more traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. Mitzi rises about 4:30 in the morning to make the rice. A few hours later she drives to Torrance, where she goes from one large, spotless Japanese supermarket to another, carefully picking fish. She drives home with her catch and spends from early afternoon to dinnertime preparing all these delicacies, which vanish with incredible dispatch.

The next day, Thanksgiving, is also my son's birthday. Now my daughter-in-law and I, in an interestingly choreographed series of movements, navigate together through the kitchen. I am not terribly familiar with the placement of equipment and the idiosyncrasies of her oven, so as she starts her dinner preparations and I try to avoid getting in her way, she patiently helps me locate what I'm looking for and shows me how to use the oven timer. I make nutella crepes (my son's choice) for breakfast -- an apple almond tart I modernized from an old Simca Beck recipe, redolent of the tastes and smells of European Jewish cooking. (When I could find no apricot or currant jam to coat the pastry, I tried some yuzu preserves. The Japanese citrus jam was a delicious substitute.) Then I tried -- instead of my usual bread -- a one-hour Moroccan challah from Joan Nathan's new book, thinking that my assistant baker -- my granddaughter Saya, who is 5 -- would not have the patience for anything longer.

The rest of the afternoon was largely a one-woman show: Judy boiled and mashed potatoes and cooked yams and green beans, and turkey and stuffing were skillfully assembled and set to cook. (A special stuffing was made for my vegetarian niece). Just before everyone arrived, Mitzi brought down the freshly ironed table linens and the decorations Saya and I made the year before. My niece and her husband came in with roasted root vegetables; my sister and her husband filled the overflowing kitchen counter with cake and pies.

Does this all sound familiar in its essential parts? I think so. Americans are intermarrying at a rapid rate. And we are scattered all over the country, bringing with us to these gatherings a wide understanding of  international, ethnic, and regional American variations in customs and habits. I suppose if "over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go" is your idea of the only true way to celebrate this most American holiday, you might not like the way we celebrate it. But from fellow travelers, airline crews, cab drivers, and friends, I think our blending differences and traveling to the most sensible family venue -- our loving accommodations to assure we get to spend a wonderful time sharing this special occasion -- is increasingly the new norm, and it's but another death knell for community organizers and those who hope to hide their corrupt governance notions under identity politics.
Community organizers, like most Democrat candidates, gain power by dividing people and by emphasizing what distinguishes groups (sex, age, religion, race, ethnic background). They promise that they will "fight for you" -- that is, fight for spoils for the group from whom they are seeking support or votes. Thus, if, for example, you can be made to believe that all Democrat candidates are better for women, blacks, and Hispanics and you are a member of one or more of these groups, then you act in your own best interests only when you vote for Democrats. If there are any Republican women, blacks, or Hispanics running as Republicans, they must be treated especially harshly, as they are clearly traitors to your cause. Little effort is made to enunciate the candidate's policy notions or on the part of the media to examine in depth his views or qualifications for elective position.

For some time, as if we were a nation of half-literate third-worlders, this game has helped the left. The midterms put paid to this gambit. You can win the presidency by cobbling together a series of balkanized constituencies, but sooner or later, most voters will catch on that policy and competence matter, that bloc voting inevitably leads to corruption and criminal actions by elected officials, and that electing people far below the level of competency required for their positions results in truly awful governance and misery all around.

In the United States, there is another reason why such political strategies are doomed to failure, and Thanksgiving reminds me clearly why: More and more, we live in blended families, and in our daily activities, we have sufficient contact with one another to recognize that different people share the same desires for clean, competent governance -- not some political advantage over others -- which offers us all the most opportunity for advancement and happiness.

For several years now, in recognition of the fact that the younger generation has moved to the West Coast and has less flexibility about travel than the older generation, we have gathered from around the country at the home of my son and daughter-in-law in Los Angeles.

We are grateful that we are physically and financially able to make the journey. Every year, some can't make it for one reason or another, but ever since my daughter-in-law Judy started this, it has been a tradition in which everyone tries hard to participate.

Even my 91-year-old mother flew all by herself from south Florida across the country, as she does every November, to spend time with her children, grandchildren, and great-granddaughter.

For my husband and me, the journey began at Dulles airport. The last two times we traveled from there, the lines of passengers waiting to be screened were long and slow-moving. It wasn't because there was a shortage of TSA employees. In fact, the area was full of them, but apparently there were only two or three of them, all in one of the fancy new screening areas, capable of handling the equipment. This time, all the screeners were active, all the aisles were working, and all the TSA staff were pleasant and helpful. I should mention that because of the widespread fuss about the back-screening and pat-downs and the threat of passenger protests, there was a TV camera crew on site, filming the procedure. I saw none of the backscatter machines in use, and no pat-downs occurred in my view. I think TSA knows the protest is growing against the notion that old ladies with walkers have to be thoroughly screened  lest more likely terrorist candidates be offended by rational profiling. The rage at this kind of nincompoopery, based on identity politics (CAIR will complain) at the expense of common sense, will not quickly be dissipated by the Potemkin Thanksgiving screening show. TSA will have to permanently change course, devising another, more rational, less politically correct system for frequent fliers, aged and infirm passengers, and children.

From LAX we drove to our destination by cab, the driver of which was obviously an immigrant. We could not quite place the accent, but he appeared Iranian. He spoke to us of his pride in his daughter, a UCLA student who planned to continue there for law school. We shared wishes for a happy Thanksgiving. I cannot imagine why there might be any enmity between us, and there wasn't. He was proud to be an American, happy to share this glorious holiday, and thrilled with the opportunities (denied him elsewhere) which his children had found in this land of their resettlement.

My daughter-in-law's father (now deceased) was a Japanese-American who, along with his parents and sister, were interned in World War II. Her mother "Mitzi" is Japanese-born. Our particular family tradition is sushi and turkey. Because Mitzi makes so much glorious sushi, we have the sushi on the night before Thanksgiving and the more traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. Mitzi rises about 4:30 in the morning to make the rice. A few hours later she drives to Torrance, where she goes from one large, spotless Japanese supermarket to another, carefully picking fish. She drives home with her catch and spends from early afternoon to dinnertime preparing all these delicacies, which vanish with incredible dispatch.

The next day, Thanksgiving, is also my son's birthday. Now my daughter-in-law and I, in an interestingly choreographed series of movements, navigate together through the kitchen. I am not terribly familiar with the placement of equipment and the idiosyncrasies of her oven, so as she starts her dinner preparations and I try to avoid getting in her way, she patiently helps me locate what I'm looking for and shows me how to use the oven timer. I make nutella crepes (my son's choice) for breakfast -- an apple almond tart I modernized from an old Simca Beck recipe, redolent of the tastes and smells of European Jewish cooking. (When I could find no apricot or currant jam to coat the pastry, I tried some yuzu preserves. The Japanese citrus jam was a delicious substitute.) Then I tried -- instead of my usual bread -- a one-hour Moroccan challah from Joan Nathan's new book, thinking that my assistant baker -- my granddaughter Saya, who is 5 -- would not have the patience for anything longer.

The rest of the afternoon was largely a one-woman show: Judy boiled and mashed potatoes and cooked yams and green beans, and turkey and stuffing were skillfully assembled and set to cook. (A special stuffing was made for my vegetarian niece). Just before everyone arrived, Mitzi brought down the freshly ironed table linens and the decorations Saya and I made the year before. My niece and her husband came in with roasted root vegetables; my sister and her husband filled the overflowing kitchen counter with cake and pies.

Does this all sound familiar in its essential parts? I think so. Americans are intermarrying at a rapid rate. And we are scattered all over the country, bringing with us to these gatherings a wide understanding of  international, ethnic, and regional American variations in customs and habits. I suppose if "over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go" is your idea of the only true way to celebrate this most American holiday, you might not like the way we celebrate it. But from fellow travelers, airline crews, cab drivers, and friends, I think our blending differences and traveling to the most sensible family venue -- our loving accommodations to assure we get to spend a wonderful time sharing this special occasion -- is increasingly the new norm, and it's but another death knell for community organizers and those who hope to hide their corrupt governance notions under identity politics.