This may (not) come as a surprise to somebody, but I never quite related to this holiday.
Sure, over the years I've assimilated to the U.S and its customs and traditions, and I've eaten my share of turkey and even grew to like stuffing and cranberry sauce. (What on earth is green bean casserole though!?!) I've had friends-giving and even family thanksgivings a number of times. And yes I also had orphaned thanksgivings that reminded me I am a stranger in a strange land.
But this tradition never hooked me. It didn't have that magic spell that converted me into a die-hard thanksgiving fan. (An area where Thanksgiving's older sibling Christmas does far better in).
Thing is - it SHOULD HAVE hooked me. I am an empath and love swimming in the pool of 'attitude of gratitude' in most moments of my life. I make it a daily practice to give thanks and be grateful.
So why am I an absolute cynic and a bit of a hater of a seemingly innocent holiday like Thanksgiving!?!
Well, that's just it. 'Seemingly' should have clued you in.
If you look at the history origin of the tradition, you'll find that the narrative most Americans are told about the holiday's roots - the story of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans eating together in peace and living happily ever after - is simply not the entire story. It fulfills a political narrative, a whitewashing of the history of the native Americans in New England who were brutalized, enslaved and hated on. While millions of Americans enjoy the holiday and feel gratitude for each other - for the descendants of native American tribes from New England - Thanksgiving is actually a day of mourning.
Sure, I can do what many others do, and ignore the origin of this holiday and just enjoy the family and friends and the gratitude I have for them and for the roof over our heads and food on our plates. I can, and some years - I do. But as the stranger in a strange land that I am.. I wonder: couldn't we be grateful and also acknowledge our past's mistakes? So we can learn from them and support our indigenous communities or any community that is perceived as an 'other' in the American culture? (Yes I know - what IS the American culture anyways... sigh) So we can begin heal our separatist past and build a brighter inclusive present and future? Oh, and can we stop eating turkey!?! (I mean, if it really was tasty - wouldn't you be eating it more than once or twice a year? Just sayin'...)
And with that somewhat cynical sentiment (Or 'brutally real' as I would prefer calling it) I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving! (and ahem maybe vegan also..?)
In April 2020, while experiencing her first ever global pandemic, Tamar Pelzig pledged to write something every day, even if it's only a word, so she welcomed to the world a daily blog to keep her creative writing wheels rolling.
Header Art: Daniel Landerman