“I just don’t know what to celebrate on Thanksgiving,” said my friend. “I want to spend the day with my family eating Turkey, but I hate what the day represents to so many of my friends.”
I understand completely. How can we celebrate a day that marks the beginning of the end of the Native Peoples who lived here before my ancestors came and murdered them? And yet the tradition of gathering with friends and family to celebrate what we’re thankful for has a strong place in our culture. I’ve celebrated this day since childhood. How do we make peace with it?
Take out the Pilgrims and Plymouth Rock and all that BS about the friendly Native Americans. Focus on what is real: Gratitude. What are you thankful for? Really look at it. Because that’s what we’re really celebrating on this day. Look at everything you have and say “Thank You.”
Thank you for my health. Thank you for the food on my table and the friends in my life. Thank you for indoor plumbing and clean water and the roof over my head. Thank you for the generosity of strangers who help me every day. Thank you for all the little things I take for granted and the big things I call gifts. Thank you for my life.
I acknowledge the crimes of my ancestors and I am grateful that I can make amends by learning and doing better. That’s what our country is struggling with right now, and we need to struggle with it. Glossing over the atrocities by celebrating a myth perpetuates those atrocities. The reality is that our country is young and volatile and full of bloodshed. It is also beautiful and hopeful. We can celebrate our history and mourn those who died from that history. Eat that turkey and pumpkin pie, celebrate your family, but leave Plymouth Rock out of it.
Today is Gratitude Day. Be grateful for all that is good in your life.