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A Progressive Texas Thanksgiving

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Ever since my mom got beat by George Bush Jr. we've congregated for Thanksgiving down at Padre Island, near Harlingen, Texas. We liked to think of this gathering at the beach as the Hyannis Port of the South - just like the Kennedys we had an extended family, touch football games, and were obsessed with politics.

It has always been convenient that Thanksgiving falls so neatly post-election, almost always by which time the major electoral contests have been called. There's the odd year where we actively follow a yet to be determined cliffhanger, so this year we'll all be counting on the ability of Al Franken's first rate lawyer Marc Elias to convince the Minnesota election board that yes, the whole idea is that we make our best faith effort to count every vote.

Over the years the Thanksgiving rituals have become positively Pavlovian with our extended group of family and friends. Jalapeno cheese grits are required: a post-feast movie (this year -- Quantum of Solace); the Turkey Bowl touch football game; and the world's most competitive Charades game where inevitably someone ends up in tears. There's also a mad dash to Matamoros to stimulate the Mexican economy through drinking margaritas and buying pottery we absolutely will not be able to get back on the plane.

But the main event each year is the Thanksgiving parade, a political satire of sorts, with appropriate poorly executed costumes, luggage carts transformed as floats, kids and animals, Santa and lots of wigs. The parade was primarily designed for our own entertainment, but over the years, word has spread and usually there is a decent turnout at our beachfront condo to observe, if not applaud, the spectacle. (One year two strangers dressed in full pilgrim regalia appeared on the scene to join in.)

Given our political bent there are always great moments over the previous year that scream out for a featuring role -- Florida voters and Hanging Chads, Tom DeLay's indictment, Mission Accomplished. Not surprisingly, every year, someone always gets to wear the prison stripes and the judicial robe.

Most of our children have dressed up as a presidential candidate (think Dennis Kucinich) at one time or another, and most years, the parade is our collective chance to 'revue' and start over. As progressives, the election outcome is most always a disappointment, and its important to laugh or else we would surely give up and become organic farmers.

Although my mother passed away two years ago, we still get together and carry on our traditions. But for the first time, I don't think there will be a parade. God knows there is enough material.

But the good news of this November overwhelms the rest -- instead, our cynicism abated, we will rejoice that our kids experienced winning at a lot earlier age than we did. They all volunteered, phoned and knocked, some even voted for the first time. We are living at a moment in history where the world has changed, fundamentally and for even the most hard-bitten political junkie, it is a marvelous to be part of this change. So we'll save the costumes for next year, or the year after -- and instead, just give thanks. Its what mom would want.

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