“Thanksgiving” or Thanks-Giving?
Every year, when this holiday rolls around, I have a heavy feeling. One that many probably have, but we too often ignore out of convenience. There’s that feeling that you are celebrating something awful. That you a desecrating a story and buying into all things commercial.
That’s because it is.
It was pretty evident at Halloween, when we talked about the tradition of costuming and how much more important it was than the opinions of those who may be offended.
“Why can’t I dress as [insert XYZ racist costume]!? It’s funny!!”
One thing that we often forget, is that many of us are in the position to ignore, we’re coming from a place of privilege and of not being required to take note of other’s perspectives on more sensitive topics…and it’s easy to do.
One thing I’ve learned though, is that folks with privilege…whether it be white privilege, male privilege, or that of social class…need to think critically about how their perceptions impact their actions. We need to think critically about why we see our perceptions as facts and the perceptions of others as here say and opinion.
Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving the way that we do? What is the history behind the holiday? Why is it seen as a time for gathering together? Why is thanks given during our meal? What are the opposing views and why doesn’t everyone think like I do? Am I right or wrong? Can we compromise?
To answer these questions, it is key that we explore a variety of sources and perspectives about both Thanksgiving and the celebration of giving thanks. For me personally, I am still looking for more content on this topic, because I think that it’s a difficult tradition to rationalize. My family has always celebrated the special Thanksgiving meal and been overjoyed by the experience of having that meal, but we have never celebrated the meeting of Pilgrims and Indians. We have never been guided into believing that theirs was a celebration of equality or understanding. What came next (if you read your history) was a sign that these two sentiments were not in play.
Overall, even knowing the circumstances on which Thanksgiving was founded, I still cannot see this tradition being exiled from our home…nor would I want it to be. I love coming together with my family, reminding myself of what I’m thankful for and eating some exceptionally good food…and that’s ok. But, I can do all those things without the mention of pilgrims and without painting a rosy, misinformed picture in my daughter’s head about their relationship with First Americans.
Instead, I choose to make my holiday about giving thanks. I resolve to research new resources every year to explain to her and myself why the commercial and political Thanksgiving might not quite be synonymous with the act of giving thanks…and I’ll give her the tools to make critical examinations of this celebration on her own. Because, I think that when it comes right down to it, we should be examining everything that we say and do, and never giving any action the benefit of doubt, simply because it has been raised up on a pedestal within society.
Just like those who use racial slurs in their daily lives without knowing…we all could focus a little more on awareness and a little less on conformity.
With that said…Happy Thanks-Giving! And here is one source that shares some interesting details about the first Thanksgiving…and please check out this interview for more details about Thanksgiving perspectives. You can also read this post about the myths of Thanksgiving…it’s excellent.