The real turkey talk at our dinner table

ST. LOUIS – With the mainstream press focusing on record-breaking “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” sales and, unfortunately, on mace-wilding shoppers wrestling for “door-buster” deals, the real story has gone largely unreported.

Here’s my family’s story. I think it reflects the political mood of the moment and the kinds of conversations taking place around millions of dinner tables all across our country this holiday season.

My mother and stepfather live in Festus, Mo. They are working class folks.

My stepfather was unemployed for about two years, and just recently got hired on as a welder for a specialty truck company – attaching cabinets, compressors, cranes, etc.

My mother has been unemployed a little over a year now. They both worked for the same trash company.

Until recently, neither my mom nor my stepfather had health insurance. They couldn’t afford COBRA. Fortunately, now that he’s working, mom can afford to go to the doctor and get her MS medicine again.
And while they are still waiting on his worker’s comp settlement (he was unjustly “let go” after falling from a trash truck and injuring his arm and shoulder), they’re not bitter, resentful or mad.

They just want to work!

They just want to pay the bills and the mortgage, and maybe – just maybe – put some money back into their 401k, which they had to use while unemployed.

My in-laws live in Davisville, Mo. They are working class folks, too.

My father-in-law is a retired union roofer, and my mother-in-law is a stay-at-home mom who did everything humanely possible to make life easier for my wife and her sister while they were growing up.

They have a nice little farmhouse down a long dirt road, where family and friends can go spend long weekends, ride four-wheelers, kayak or just lounge around the fire and read a good book.

My wife and I spent the first half of Thanksgiving with my family and the second half with her family. Like most, we ate too much, napped in-between meals, and “talked turkey.”

Much of the “turkey talk” centered on politics, the economy and the 2012 elections’ on the Occupy Movement and the 99 percent vs. the 1 percent, Wall Street greed and workers’ rights to unionize; on how the system is broken.

We even talked about close friends and co-workers recently arrested as part of an Occupy St. Louis / AFL-CIO rally in downtown St. Louis. They were protesting for jobs, rebuilding our infrastructure and increasing taxes on the 1 percent who caused the economic crisis.

What does all of this have to do with Thanksgiving? And why is this more important than Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

I’m willing to bet tens of millions of families “talked turkey” this Thanksgiving. And I’m willing to bet their “turkey talk” was just like my family’s “turkey talk.”

I’m willing to bet millions of ordinary, working class families spent considerably more time “talking turkey” than waiting outside in the cold for “door-busters.” And I’m willing to bet millions of ordinary, working class families could care less about Black Friday and Cyber Monday.   

The real story this holiday season is that millions of Americans are fed-up with politics as usual and are ready to do something about it.

It was a good Thanksgiving. If it is any indication of things to come, next year’s Thanksgiving will be even better.

Photo: AJ Schuster // CC 2.0


Tony Pecinovsky
Tony Pecinovsky

Tony Pecinovsky is the author of "Let Them Tremble: Biographical Interventions Marking 100 Years of the Communist Party, USA" and author/editor of "Faith In The Masses: Essays Celebrating 100 Years of the Communist Party, USA." His forthcoming book is titled "The Cancer of Colonialism: W. Alphaeus Hunton, Black Liberation, and the Daily Worker, 1944-1946." Pecinovsky has appeared on C-SPAN’s "Book TV" and speaks regularly on college and university campuses across the country.