Thanksgiving 2032

"Winston, come into the dining room, it's time to eat," Julia yelled to her
husband. "In a minute, honey, it's a tie score," he answered.
Actually Winston wasn't very interested in the traditional holiday football game.

Ever since the government passed the Civility in Sports Statute of 2027,
outlawing tackle football for its 'unseemly violence' and the 'bad example it sets
for the rest of the world', Winston was far less of a football fan than he used to
be. Two-hand touch wasn't nearly as exciting.

Yet it wasn't the game that Winston was uninterested in. It was more the thought
of eating another Tofu Turkey. Even though it was the best type of VeggieMeat
available after the government revised the American Anti-Obesity Act of 2025,
adding fowl to the list of federally-forbidden foods, (which already included
potatoes, cranberry sauce and mince-meat pie), it wasn't anything like real
turkey. And ever since the government officially changed the name of 'Thanksgiving
Day' to 'A National Day of Atonement' in 2023 to officially acknowledge the
Pilgrims' historically brutal treatment of Native Americans, the holiday had lost
a lot of its luster.

Eating in the dining room was also a bit daunting. The unearthly gleam of
government-mandated fluorescent light bulbs made the Tofu Turkey look even weirder
than it actually was, and the room was always cold. Ever since Congress passed the
Power Conservation Act of 2026, mandating all thermostats - which were monitored
and controlled by the electric company - be kept at 68 degrees, every room on the
north side of the house was barely tolerable throughout the entire winter.

Still, it was good getting together with family. Or at least most of the family.
Winston missed his mother, who passed on in October, when she had used up her
legal allotment of life-saving medical treatment. He had had many heated
conversations with the Regional Health Consortium, spawned when the private
insurance market finally went bankrupt, and everyone was forced into the
government health care program. And though he demanded she be kept on her
treatment, it was a futile effort. "The RHC's resources are limited," explained
the government bureaucrat Winston spoke with on the phone. "Your mother received
all the benefits to which she was entitled. I'm sorry for your loss."

Ed couldn't make it either. He had forgotten to plug in his electric car last
night, the only kind available after the Anti-Fossil Fuel Bill of 2024 outlawed
the use of the combustion engines - for everyone but government officials. The
fifty mile round trip was about ten miles too far, and Ed didn't want to spend a
frosty night on the road somewhere between here and there.

Thankfully, Winston's brother, John, and his wife were flying in. Winston made
sure that the dining room chairs had extra cushions for the occasion. No one
complained more than John about the pain of sitting down so soon after the
government-mandated cavity searches at airports, which severely aggravated his
hemorrhoids. Ever since a terrorist successfully smuggled a cavity bomb onto a
jetliner, the TSA told Americans the added 'inconvenience' was an "absolute
necessity" in order to stay "one step ahead of the terrorists." Winston's own
body had grown accustomed to such probing ever since the government expanded
their scope to just about anywhere a crowd gathered, via the Anti-Profiling Act of
2022. That law made it a crime to single out any group or individual for "unequal
scrutiny," even when probable cause was involved. Thus, cavity searches at malls,
train stations, bus depots, etc., etc., had become almost routine. Almost.

Complaining about it was dangerous. The government decided that anyone who would
complain about such actions being used on its citizens was "certainly a
home-grown terrorist" and if they felt they couldn't make that charge stick in a
court of law to make an example of you, they would use the RICO act against you
and you would be forced to 'take a plea' and get less time in jail and now have a
'record' or try to fight the government with your pittance of a paycheck. So,
Winston bit his tongue and wished for the times when their forefathers fought
against such tyrannies.

Anyway, the Supreme Court is reviewing the statute, but most Americans expect a
Court composed of six progressives and three conservatives to leave the law
intact. "A living Constitution is extremely flexible," said the Court's eldest
member, Elena Kagan. "Europe has had laws like this one for years. We should learn
from their example," she added.

Winston's thoughts turned to his own children. He got along fairly well with his
12-year-old daughter, Brittany, mostly because she ignored him. Winston had long
ago surrendered to the idea that she could text anyone at any time, even during
Atonement Dinner - unless he wouldn't mind her texting the police and them busting
into his home alongside Child Protective Services and checking if he isn't abusing
a minor. Their only real confrontation had occurred when he limited her to 50,000
texts a month, explaining that was all he could afford. She whined for a week, but
got over it.

His 16-year-old son, Jason, was another matter altogether. Perhaps it was the
constant bombarding he got in public school that global warming, the bird flu,
terrorism or any of a number of other calamities were "just around the corner,"
but Jason had developed a kind of nihilistic attitude that ranged between
simmering surliness and outright hostility. It didn't help that Jason had reported
his father to the police for smoking a cigarette in the house, an act made
criminal by the Smoking Control Statute of 2022, which outlawed smoking anywhere
within 500 feet of another human being. Winston paid the $5,000 fine, which might
have been considered excessive before the American dollar became virtually
worthless as a result of QE13. The latest round of quantitative easing the federal
government initiated was, once again, to "spur economic growth." This time they
promised to push unemployment below its years-long rate of 18%, but Winston was
not particularly hopeful.

Yet the family had a lot for which to be thankful, Winston thought, before
remembering it was a Day of Atonement. At least he had his memories. He felt a
twinge of sadness when he realized his children would never know what life was
like in the Good Old Days, long before government promises to make life "fair for
everyone" realized their full potential. Winston, like so many of his fellow
Americans, never realized how much things could change when they didn't happen all
at once, but little by little, so people could get used to them.

He wondered what might have happened if the public had stood up while there was
still time, maybe back around 2011, when all the real nonsense began. "Maybe we
wouldn't be where we are today if we'd just said 'enough is enough' when we had
the chance," he thought.

Well maybe so, Winston. Maybe so.

reparations my ass