I have a conflicted relationship with Thanksgiving. When I was little it was all about the food and the company. And then I got a little older and a little wiser and a little more familiar with history…
I do think it behooves us to have a day set aside for gathering with family and friends. To contemplate what we’re thankful for. To think on what we can change, what we can improve, how we can better ourselves, our world. (Whether or not people en masse will ever use Thanksgiving to do that is another question entirely and probably wishful thinking.)
I also think it betters us to not ignore our history. To not sugar coat it. To not continue to whitewash it.
The holiday we recognize today was created in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln; in the midst of a nasty war, he decided we should have a national day of thanksgiving and praise.
It is not, as depicted in children’s books and grade school plays, a celebration of the coming together of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people.
The actual history of that era is something else, something shadowed by conquest, by genocide.
That’s something to contemplate, as we gather around food laden tables. And it’s something to contemplate in our daily lives, because we are not, as some like to say, a “post-racial society.” We need to learn from our history.
For me, in the current world, in the current economy, there’s a lot I’m thankful for. A lot I’m trying to not take for granted. Here’s my song list for this week. It’s short. Simple.
1. Thank U – Alanis Morissette
2. Kind and Generous – Natalie Merchant
3. Simple Gifts – Yo Yo Man & Alison Krauss