Nov 24, 2015

Posted by in Featured, Life & Musings, My Viewpoints | 0 Comments

Thanksgiving: To Celebrate or…?

Thanksgiving, traditionally in my family, has always been a time of great joy because it meant that my extended family was gathering so that we could celebrate our thankfulness together. It also meant it was time to sleep over at Grandma and Grandpa’s house; which meant less rules, more candy, and later bedtimes. Oh yeah! But what really stood out the most, was it also meant we kids (myself and my two younger siblings) got to take a trip with Grandma to Toys ‘R Us and make our Christmas wish lists. We had a $10 budget as well to pick out one thing while we were there, but the main reason was that wishlist. I look back fondly on that day wandering up and down the isles of toys, my own little notepad in hand (we each got a different color, so exciting!) as I looked at all the shelves of toys I could potentially attempt to stuff on my bed with me while I slept.

I don’t have any memories of Thanksgiving as a child that aren’t fond ones. It’s a holiday that, to think about, fills me with a warm glow and a comforting thought of family.

This isn’t the case for everyone, but I assume that for many in the US, your memories of Thanksgiving are similar to mine: Filled with warm feelings and sentimental thoughts. Of times gone by that you look back on fondly. You might not have the same family traditions I do, but I’m sure you have other ones, ones that perhaps you’re currently passing on to your own children.

It’s because of this that I get so upset every time I read about what a terrible history this holiday apparently has. And unfortunately, due to the political tides presently, it’s a skewed history focusing on everything that Thanksgiving wasn’t.

Thanksgiving was not, first and foremost, the genocide of the Native Americans. Now, I’m not denying that this happened. I am fully aware that Christopher Columbus was quite the asshole, and because of him terrible things happened to the Native Americas. But Christopher Columbus was not part of the Plymouth settlement, and he had nothing to do with the First Thanksgiving.

No, the First Thanksgiving was a peaceful event, and an occasion that was spent between a colony that was friendly with their local Native Americans. A rarity in the age, sadly. [Source]

So when I see people purporting Thanksgiving as anything but a holiday steeped in something wonderful, I get pretty miffed. It’s a time of gratitude and family. Regardless of what your family traditions are (watching football, seeing a movie, having a big meal, or volunteering at a soup kitchen, etc.), this is not a holiday that should be confused with what ultimately happened to Native Americans because it is separate from that history. Anyone who cannot make that distinction frustrates me greatly.

I’m equally frustrated by people who cannot remember that it is a holiday of gratitude, too. I feel bad for those who are unable to celebrate with family for whatever reasons, and I’m not a fan of people having to work if their job is unessential to society (ie: we still need nurses, ER doctors, firemen, police officers, etc.). I firmly feel that if you can be with family, you should. I don’t think it’s a huge issue to ask that people suspend their need to wander the mall for one day of the year. I certainly don’t think we should forget about the holiday we just celebrated either, on the following day that is the biggest shopping day of the year: Black Friday.

So, as we come into Thanksgiving again this year I implore my fellow Americans to be grateful for what you have. Not just in food; but in life’s lessons, in family, in friends, and in health. Take time too to be thankful that we have the freedoms we do, because of the men and women who serve in our armed forces, and remember them on this day as many of them are unable to be with their families. Be thankful too to your local civil service folks who cannot spend Thanksgiving with family because they’re on duty; the police, the firefighters, the hospital workers, EMTs, etc. Thanksgiving does not have to be religious, to be a day of gratitude.

If you don’t have a family to celebrate with, or just don’t for whatever reasons (I don’t judge), perhaps consider volunteering at your local soup kitchen, homeless shelter, nursing home, or other public place where people might need some holiday cheer. Perhaps organize a community potluck for others in the same situation as you, so that you can share the gratitude of the holiday with others. It’s a warm, magical time if you let it be. And I hope that you do.

Happy Thanksgiving (in a couple of days anyways lol)!

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