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It's a Land of Plenty With Not That Many Choices

November 28, 2003|James Socas | James Socas is a congressional staff member.

My wife brought the turkey out of the oven all crisp and brown. Uncle Joe had to help carry it.

"Now that is a real beauty," Aunt Polly exclaimed.

"Sixty-eight pounds!" Uncle Joe said.

My wife smiled.

"Costco," I said.

Everybody nodded.

We had picked it up there the night before. Strapped it right onto the roof with some duct tape we had left over from the Code Orange alerts. Filled up the trunk with three-gallon cans of candied yams and cranberry sauce and drove home.

It was really a feast. We ate and watched the Paris Hilton video.

We had some funny moments too.

Turned out Uncle Joe and I were wearing the same shirt and pants and socks and belt. A nice red plaid-and-brown holiday combo. Kind of embarrassing, frankly. But then in comes my neighbor, Herb, with the same outfit on. We'd all been to the Gap!

We looked like one of those dance teams. That is what my wife kept saying, yelling "Go team Turkey!"

Boy, we laughed a lot. But Herb brought us down.

Polly wanted to say a Thanksgiving prayer for the Pilgrims and Indians.

"No Indians," Herb said plainly. "I am not praying for any Indians. The company moved my job overseas and now some Indian is doing it."

"Not those Indians," I said. "She's talking about the American Indians."

"Even worse," Herb said. "Those are the ones that came here on those H-2-0 visas."

"You mean H1B visas," I said.

"It doesn't matter," Herb said. "I still lost my job."

"Well, let's have a toast just for each other," my wife said, " -- for the country."

She brought out our new glasses. They glimmered in the light.

"Fancy!" said Polly.

"From Wal-Mart," my wife told her, beaming. "Only 62 cents each. They get them from China."

Everybody nodded.

"We bought over 100."

Everybody laughed.

But Grandpa was kind of quiet. He'd been the manager of the glassware plant we used to have in town, but he'd been laid off too when it moved out.

Now he spoke up. He was wearing his uniform. He wore it all the time now. He was a Wal-Mart greeter and proud of it.

"Let's all go into town."

By town he meant Wal-Mart. All the other stores had closed, of course.

When we got to the Wal-Mart, Grandpa's shift was starting, and we said goodbye. We were proud of him for having a job again.

After the glassware plant closed he lost his retirement savings when he took his broker's advice to buy Enron. So Grandpa seemed happy to be working again.

We all walked around the aisles. I was always amazed by all the stuff.

We wished we could buy something, but I didn't have a job either, and those glasses were our last big splurge.

So we just looked around like kids set loose in a candy store. We stayed late, until the Wal-Mart was ready to close. They had just brought in the crew of Filipino children hired to clean the floors.

I put my arm around my wife as we walked out into the cool night air.

"God bless America," I said.

She looked at me and smiled.

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