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  Comments (1) Total Friday Apr. 18, 2014
Holiday Politics
Uncommon Ground
At the end of next week the daytimes get longer. The week after it’s Christmas. In my family, these times of giving, eating and wonderment can be blissfully intense.

A decade ago our parents moved to Florida, fleeing the snow and cold. I routinely spend Thanksgiving with family. Unfortunately they retired to a place I find humid, flat and full of traffic.

My father and father in-law are conservatives. On some social issues they could be labeled far right. All my mothers are more liberal.

I think most families can politically clash during holidays. My fathers and I agree on issues like fiscal discipline, property tax caps and and cars. But we conflict on plenty of moral issues like gay marriage and health insurance tax breaks for moderate wage earners.

And most assuredly my fathers and I strongly disagree on President Barack Obama’s job performance. On this topic facts matter little; rhetoric rules the house.

We’ve trained ourselves to keep politics cordial at family gatherings. Well, mostly, after the second beer we tend to slip. We strive for civility for the sake of the moms and family peace. But my dads enjoy a good political debate as much as I do.

One discussion this Thanksgiving involved tax cuts and their effect on national debt. My fathers’ views involved the misnomer that Bush-era income tax cuts did not increase national debt, yet somehow income tax breaks for health insurance to moderate wage earners does.

In reality income tax breaks reduce the amount of revenue that the government collects to spend on programs. But in today’s world of the endless cable TV and talk radio, facts matter less to politics.

One morning my father-in-law informed his daughter, who volunteers at the Whitefish food bank, that no one in this country is hungry. She walked away deciding it was time to shower. Nearly 50 million people participate in anti-hunger programs, half of whom are kids.

The week leading up to Christmas’ influx of family, it’s good to relax. It’s just family; be wise and celebrate the reasons of the season.

During extended visits, make time for you. Read a book, take a nap, go for a swim, ski, ice skate, or do some yoga. Spend some time alone. It’s OK; you’re giving your parents a time to also rest.

My parents are pushing 80. What do I do? I want to see them. And they want to see me.

I reminded my fathers of community friends benefiting greatly from national safety net programs. Making it personal and verbalizing that this is the way I feel helps.

I also spent an inordinate amount of time test-driving fancy cars. The Cadillac SRX with its 20-inch wheels was a particularly sweet ride, but terribly fuel inefficient. We looked at new kitchen floors and counter tops.

We hauled two houses full of Christmas decorations down from one attic. I fixed faucets, replaced fixtures and repaired doors. I trimmed the lawn, pruned grapefruit trees and hedges, and raked leaves with my nephew.

The work and daily walks made it easier to digest the massive amounts of traditional food my moms prepared daily. It’s a rich, meat-centric diet. There’s plenty of sugar, fat and salt. It’s deliciously good, but eating more vegetables would clearly help.

It’s kindness and graciousness, which make the holiday season. Our parents simply live a much different lifestyle than we do on the farm. There is little they could politically say to stop our visits. Life is short. I’ve learned to cherish family and tolerate a bit of nonsensical rhetoric.

Political squabbles matter little with regard to our love and respect of parents. They taught us strength and tenderness, giving and forgiving. Our parents simply raised their kids to be independently minded.
On 12-12-13, mooseberryinn commented....
Yeah, I taught my kids about communism and integrity.  I’m pretty sure they know what the chairman is.
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