28 November 2013

Thanksgiving Day - 2013

On the occasion of Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.A., a lot of people like to use it as an occasion to set us all straight about some of our nation's more shameful earlier history.  I too consider knowledge about the actual facts of history to be vitally important instead of preference being given to misconceptions and denial of facts.   Even so . . . given that Thanksgiving Day is set aside as a national holiday (which many enjoy as the luxury of a four day mini-vacation dedicated to family), I want to encourage our entire "American Tribe" to enjoy celebrating our nation's Thanksgiving as the harvest festival it is, and the special day of gratitude for all that is good about life.

Harvest festivals are traditionally celebrated, worldwide, at different times in different places.  Even indigenous tribes in the U.S.A. celebrate the blessings of harvest at various times of the year according to their traditions.  But the entire "American Tribe", as it currently exists in all of it's variety, inclusively celebrates the harvest on the 3rd Thursday in November.

My point?  Well, I am not convinced that the primary purpose for most in celebrating Thanksgiving is an unrealistic veneration of the first harvest festival of the European settlers in Plymouth - the simplified feel-good elementary school version we were all
introduced to as children.  When the remembering of Plymouth is a dimension of the feast for some, whatever our nation's history and mythology (lies and facts if you prefer) regarding the complexity of the actual relationships among immigrants and indigenous, and whatever did and did not occur, our national celebration of Thanksgiving does NOT include a dimension of celebrating the unconscionable facts of our history; nor is it intended to be a day set aside for commemorating the unconscionable in our nation's history.  Whatever the extent and quality of the indigenous/immigrant friendships in Plymouth, only the kindnesses that were extended are commemorated by those to whom the cultural history of Plymouth is a dimension of being grateful for and traditionally celebrating a bountiful harvest on our national day of Thanksgiving.

As I remind myself, I also want to share the reminder with all -
Thanksgiving Day is a special time for our entire nation of people to make good use of an opportunity to be grateful, altogether, for all that is good in life.  That is not the same as being in denial about history.  So why not save the justified grousing about what was bad, what continues to be bad, and what will be bad, for less propinquitously shared days of the year instead of a national holiday dedicated to gratitude?  (The elders in my family would demand, more descriptively, "stop being a wet blanket"!)

In the spirit of celebrating the harvest and being grateful for all that is good, I wish all a blessed and fulfilling Thanksgiving.