Last week I ended my blog with the sentence “Hopefully your family is getting ready for Thanksgiving this week, the most American of all holidays.” I wanted to expound on that here, also recognizing that there are false narratives about the holiday that should be corrected.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. This is mostly because little is expected of me. Make some food, play games with friends, watch a movie with the family. Not too taxing. But the other reason is because it is the most American of all holidays. I know there are people out there who will say it’s Independence Day, and I certainly can see the point, but since this is my blog, I’m going forward with this one.
Picture it. A group of religious zealots leave their homeland in search of freedom to practice their religion, and spend more than a year trying to survive in an unfamiliar landscape. They are so thankful for their survival (half of them did die the first year, after all) that they host a big feast and invite the neighbors over. It lasts for a few days and the atmosphere is mostly convivial.
Were women a part of this feast? Potentially not, but let’s not get too caught up in that.
Was it an attempt to form a military alliance with the local native tribes upon whose land they settled without permission? Possibly, but it didn’t really work. There were outnumbered nearly two-to-one, and most of the colonists there were children.
All over the nation there will be children reenacting scenes from the First Thanksgiving, and undoubtedly they will be inaccurate at best and offensive at worst. Children in Putnam City don’t create these tableaux today, but we did when I was a child in the district.
Being more enlightened to the pain inflicted by our ancestors does not mean we should not recognize the importance of this holiday at all. That is still rewriting history. The event happened! We need to teach about it -- the good and the not so good. I am not a proponent of glossing over any aspect of US History, or leaving out something because the behaviors are not in line with the zeitgeist. We call that the Sin of Presentism.
So I recognize the harsh and negative aspects of the holiday and how some might not celebrate it because of those facets. But I still do, because it is full of meaning. Being thankful is a core value of mine and I strive for gratitude to be evident in my actions. Thanksgiving’s traditions fill me with pride in our nation that has struggled through so many harsh winters yet remains committed to the idea of gratitude.
Even if it’s only for one day, you can surely see this new vision of Thanksgiving. Families in every town -- literally every single one -- across the United States will be eating at least one traditional food around a table together. I know it may seem “Pollyanna,” but I don’t care. I have the vision, and I think the vision could translate into our all realizing that we are part of the same family, doing the same thing at the same time. We are all Americans.
Happy Thanksgiving Friends! I hope you get the last piece of pecan pie!