Helen looked over her shoulder at her husband sitting on the floor, playing Go Fish with the grandchildren whose computers had mysteriously lost their Internet connections.
“Nothing. Why do you ask?”
“He hasn't said a word since we got here.”
“He just said 'Go Fish'.”
Helen's daughter Rachel studied her father and frowned.
“That's not really talking,” she responded with emphasis on “really”.
“I've noticed it too,” Helen's other daughter Kristy chimed in.
Helen bent her attention to the potatoes.
“Seriously, mom,” Rachel persisted. “He's going to ruin Thanksgiving.”
Helen set down the potato and peeler and turned to face her daughters.
“What do you want him to say?”
It was Rachel's turn to shrug.
“I don't know, anything.”
“Anything but politics,” Kristy added.
Rachel rolled her eyes in agreement.
Helen shook her head and retrieved her potato and peeler.
In the moments that followed the only sound heard was the scratching of Helen's peeler and the murmur of her sons-in-law talking politics in another room.
“It seems my husband is better trained than yours.”
Kristy glared in her husband's direction.
“You know what?”
The two men shrugged and returned to their discussion in quieter voices.
Peggy, Helen's teenage granddaughter by her oldest child, Matthew, wandered into the kitchen.
“I'd rather talk about politics with grandpa than Uncle Ken and Uncle Andy.”
Kristy and Rachel glared in unison at their niece.
“Seriously,” she shrugged as she stole a lick of pumpkin pie pudding from a bowl, “at least grandpa listens.”
“You should respect your uncles,” Kristy suggested and Rachel harrumphed in agreement.
“Like they respect grandpa?”
The color rose in unison to the cheeks of both women.
Helen stepped between her granddaughter and her daughters. With a smile she guided the conversation away from politics, or at least tried.
“How's school, dear?”
The girl sighed. “Not so good, grandma.”
Helen fought an impulse to gather the child into her arms.
“But you were always such a good student.”
The frustration was evident in her voice.
“Teachers don't want us to think,” she explained, “just recite.”
“Yes, just play back what they want us to believe. I wish they were more like grandpa.”
Helen's daughter, Kristy, whispered over her shoulder at her sister.
“This is why Ken doesn't want dad talking to our children about politics.”
It was Peggy's turn to color.
“I'm not talking about politics. It's everything. They tell us what to think and we're supposed to recite it.”
“Surely you don't mean math and science,” Kristy responded.
“Every class is political. Math. Science. History. Phys ed.”
Helen grabbed Peggy by the shoulders and drew her close.
“Why don't you begin setting the table?”
In the brief silence that followed, Kristy's toddler, Johnny coughed, and Helen's head was the first to turn in his direction.
“Don't start, mother,” Kristy warned.
“See grandma. You're not allowed to have an opinion either.”
Helen grabbed a stack of plates and followed Peggy who was carrying a basket of silverware into the dining room. She leaned close.
“Don't worry,” she whispered, “someday they'll be old and you'll pay it forward for grandpa and me.”