By now, most of us (or at least the people in my circles) know that American Thanksgiving has attached to it some egregious re-writing of history. Pilgrims and Native Americans weren’t all buddy-buddy; the settlers committed many heinous crimes and atrocities. Read Howard Zinn’s, A People’s History of the United States if you are looking for a more accurate accounting.
But i still think we need to Celebrate Thanksgiving, maybe with even more gusto. Why?
1.Because the USA didn’t invent harvest feasts; every culture has them.
2. Because it’s a day that shines the light on gratitude, the practice which makes us happier and healthier and more able to deal with the ills of our current world;
3. Thanksgiving, or a day dedicated to giving thanks, in its purest form shouldn’t be abolished just because a group of humans managed to botch it up and distort it;
4. Because although that damn Black Friday is creeping in, Thanksgiving is still a relatively non-commercial holiday; because it’s centered around coming together as extended family, family of choice or community, also something we sorely need.
5. Because the food is so. damn. good. I mean, seriously, there’s not a Thanksgiving dish I don’t like, and even though the turkey is still the star of the show in many feasts, it’s really all about the veggies. It’s a celebration of seasonal eating and healthier than Halloween or Valentine’s Day.
So yes, by all means, let’s continue celebrating the harvest, thankfulness and community and reclaim our harvest feast. However, we need to stop perpetuating the stories about the pilgrims and Indians, b/c rewriting history has harmful consequences that continue on through today. We can hold on to the inherent goodness of the celebration without sweeping the atrocities under the rug. We need to lovingly hold the complexities, dialectics and downright diametric nature of the day. We need an accurate retelling of our shared history, a delving into and trying to understand the factors in our evolutionary paths that would have allowed us to behave as we did, and how we are still doing that today; and co-visioning what we can do different, what needs to change, how we personally can shift that dynamic. Then, on friday, instead of consuming material goods excessively, we can participate in an action that will begin to repair the damage we, whose ancestors pillaged and profited from Native Americans, continue to benefit from. As in actually volunteer in a service project benefiting Native Americans. Or participate in a Truth and reconciliation Council. Examine our relationship to indigenous cultures around the world today. In this way, we can course-correct. Simply abstaining from celebrating doesn’t contribute to the healing and repair of our history.
Here’s my reflection and amends to work on this year. We. Who is this “we” I am referring to in this article? Am I including Native Americans in it? If I am, am I honestly suggesting that they celebrate Thanksgiving? What about African-Americans? They didn’t participate in the genocide of Native Americans. Do my suggestions apply to them? Or was I just talking about white Americans, or perhaps just those who have descended from the pilgrims. The short answer is, I don’t know. But I know these are important questions to ponder, alone and collectively and I intend to do so with an open heart and mind.
6. I saved the best for last- By moving to this balanced form of observing Thanksgiving, we can heal wounds on all sides, collectively raise our vibration, and experience true abundance, for all. We need to work with it, both returning the day to its pure archetypal state and re-claiming/evolving it from the U.S.’s historic perversion (which includes taking responsibility and making amends.)
Blessings to you and yours for nourishment of all kinds,