Thanksgiving, Day of Gratitude, Day of Mourning

As an American food blogger, it’s in my personal best interests to do as much tie-in with the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday as possible. It’s a time to show off my skills at cooking, photography, and writing. It’s a time to help people make the biggest feast of the year better and/or more interesting. And, indeed, I’ve already posted something on the subject this year and I have definitely posted about it several times over the years.

On a personal level, Thanksgiving has always showcased the best parts of life: camaraderie, food, and gratitude, shared and personal.

But last year, I couldn’t do it. If you look at that second link above, you’ll notice there’s not a single post in 2014 tagged “Thanksgiving.” Because, though I participated in the celebrations, I was finally aware from the year before of the terrible roots of the day and the name.

I am working more toward calling it Day of Gratitude, but doesn’t solve the inherent problem of timing and original intent. National Day of Mourning does, but I have no faith that we as a society are prepared to let go of the idyllic lie we’ve built around this day.

I don’t have answers. And, this year, I’m not hosting the daily celebration. I now live near family, whom I adore and don’t see enough, and I’ll be at their house. I’ll be thinking about the idyllic lies we teach kids, but also the deep sense of gratitude we can instill. I’ll be, frankly, a bit emotionally all over the map.

I don’t know how to handle it all. And that’s okay; not everything is handle-able or navigable.

If you’re reading this, what are your thoughts?

4 thoughts on “Thanksgiving, Day of Gratitude, Day of Mourning

  1. Hrm. That’s a pickle.
    In my family, Thanksgiving is *THE* holiday. It’s the one everyone tries to get together for, it’s got tons of tradition for us- from the things we cook and how we cook them to going around the table saying what we’re thankful for…the Polish food, the way we finish the meal in the afternoon and watch Christmas movies, then because there’s tons of November birthdays (mine is on thanksgiving sometimes!) in my family, we do a birthday celebration either after the meal or after our tummies have settled some. The next day we shop at a christmas fair and go to a movie chosen by the youngest.

    I think it’s bigger than Christmas for us.

    I know it’s always been and still is my favorite holiday. I love the food and family and that it’s the start of the Christmas season. I love cooking, I love travelling for it…all of it.

    Knowing that the origins are that evil…well, that sucks. What happened to all Native Americans in this country was reprehensible.

    What it’s become? The holiday about thankfulness and family and togetherness? what it means to my family? I can celebrate that still, I think, and still feel that way about its roots. Knowing makes me want to remember that it happened and remember never to tell my kids the “fake story” of the holiday. But these kids, if they happen down the road, would hear what Thanksgiving is in our family, and what it means to us. And I think that’s ok.

    • It’s definitely a pickle, and I do wonder how much of the answer is to make sure the real stories are told. It certainly feels like some bullshit to realize I learned about so much of this shit in my 30s, you know?

  2. I think the approach is to find a way to make the holiday your own and recognize all the wrong in our world while appreciating what we have and who we have in our lives. I was of course taught the fairy tale version of the English side of the story (the “we are good decent people” construction) but I was also taught about the taking of America. There are good teachers out there. Truth be told, our country has inflicted a lot of atrocities… Do what you can but make sure you smell the roses too. My ancestor married a native Cherokee that was evicted from her home and was supposedly on the Trail of Tears. There have always been merciful people in the mix too.

    • There are definitely good teachers out there, and I’m glad for them.

      As for me, I got more realistic history in my Spanish classes than I did in my history classes. And that’s dependent on those teachers being good ones, for sure. But the institutionalized problem of not telling those stories is an issue as well. I wonder if part of the solution is to agitate for fixing that.

      Thank you for commenting; the reminder to remember the good is important.

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