Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It is a day full of controversy. I do not profess to have any answers to the questions posed below, but for whatever it is worth...these are my thoughts.
Days of thanksgiving are common holidays around the world and many cultures have days which are set aside for the purpose of expressing gratitude. Thanksgiving Day as it is celebrated in late November in the United States has a terrible past. It is impossible to ignore its origins in conquest and the genocide of indigenous people.
A day for coming together in gratitude is worth having and many want to transform today’s thanksgiving into a day that is apart from its origins. We have traditions shared with friends and family that are beloved to many of us that we do not want to give up. Yet we can’t turn our faces from the facts of this holidays roots in the slaughter of native peoples.
Here in the United States we tend to idealize family. We like to believe that when we gather on this day that we do so in love and celebration, yet for many of us this holiday is a difficult time. It can mean coming face to face with family members who have hurt us. It might be the only day of the year we see distant or estranged siblings. Many find themselves pretending that all is okay, all hurts are glossed over even when there is still pain present.
What would we do if we sat at that table and acknowledged all of what we bring when we sit down? What if we were to acknowledge the full shared family history, one that includes not just the joys but also the pain, the sadness and the grief? What would our dinner be like if we openly faced the truth of what family really means? It would likely be quite difficult, and we might decide to never come together again, but we also might see the full truth of how we came to be this family for the first time. We might have some chance of healing…
Now expand that thought to this holiday. Yes, there is something wonderful in gathering in gratitude but what would it be like to acknowledge the other feelings that surround this day? We need to accept all parts of this day and be present with that. We cannot gloss over this holiday’s history. If there is ever to be any hope of transforming this day, if there is to be any hope of healing, the full story of the day much be brought out into the light.