Here is what has become pretty much our standard holiday feast: roast duck with a honey glaze, corn, stuffing, and biscuits. Not shown in this picture (click through and look at the others in the set if you're curious) was a plate of deviled eggs that I hadn't yet set out when I took this photo. We sometimes have sauteed mushrooms, but didn't get the mushrooms this year. Kuma Bear looks on sitting behind his small plate, and I've already poured us glasses of Martinelli's sparkling apple-grape juice.
Although a duck is much smaller than a turkey, we were still pretty full when we finished. I put the duck carcass in a pan in which I will try and boil it down on the wood stove for the next few days to make duck soup. We cleaned up the table, set the dishwasher to run, and went for a walk around downtown to try and make the food settle. An hour later, we both had a slice of pumpkin pie. We both wanted more pie, but realized that we shouldn't have any more until tomorrow.
As I mentioned, yesterday would have been my grandparents' wedding anniversary. They raised me from the age of five after my parents divorced, and with exception of a four-year period when I lived with my father in Milford, Challenge, and Bishop, California (the US Forest Service kept us on the move), they raised me from my formative years through my third year of college. They went through the Great Depression, when my grandfather's parents loaded the family (and it was a big one) into a Model T and fled unemployment and potential starvation in northern Arkansas to head to California to find work in the fields. (Forget reading The Grapes of Wrath — my grandparents and their siblings lived it.) Lisa reminded me yesterday that they would have been proud of me, and that I should be thankful for that. We have never gone hungry, nor are we in any danger of doing so. We have a comfortable home that is more than just a roof over our heads. We have enough reserves so that even if things go bad with my job, we won't lose our home and we'll probably do okay.
Lisa is right. We have a lot to be thankful for. Life is not perfect, but we're a lot better off than many people. I am no paragon of virtue, but in general I tried to do all of the right things. While I have had the advantage of the structural privilege that John Scalzi so aptly characterized as "Playing the Game on the Lowest Difficulty Setting," I still had to play the game and do the best that I could. And I don't make the mistake that many in my position have made of pretending that I'm a Self-Made Independent Strong Man who didn't need any government. My grandfather's living as a construction worker included working on a whole lot of public works projects like building dams and roads. My grandmother was the clerk in a two-person post office in Challenge; the postmaster there sold my grandparents the home in which they lived and which I recently was able to sell; I considered it my childhood home. My father was a career civil servant, albeit that people don't often think of forest rangers that way. I had a public education and was able to go to college first at a local community college and then at California State University, Chico. I had some scholarships, and I did work through college, but I also had public-funded student aid and government-guaranteed loans. I have the benefits of living in a civilized country (I hope more so than it has been these past four years) where my taxes help benefit everyone, not just me personally. There is no way I could possibly have been as successful as I have been without government programs that all too many people call now or have at some time called "socialism."
So color me grateful at my personal success and safety, but also grateful that I do live in a country that manages to have some of the blessings of democratic socialism, even if half of its population claims to reject such things. And I'm also grateful that an absolute majority of the voters of this country rejected the further expansion of a would-be populist white-supremacist dictatorship. I only hope that we'll be thankful in years to come that we managed to back away from the precipice in time.