American Thanksgiving is a confusing holiday for me. The older I get, the more I learn about why we celebrate Thanksgiving and the real story about what happened between the Pilgrims and Native Americans. I learned that the Thanksgiving holiday the United States celebrates today was created during the American Civil War to help foster national pride. The “original Thanksgiving” story we were told as children, with English separatists and Indians eating peacefully together, was mostly a fabrication: it left out the part about early colonizers killing Indians, and in some cases deliberately infecting them with deadly diseases.
I appreciate having a day to reflect on our blessings, stay home from work, and love my family. But I think it’s past time for us to reflect seriously on the mistakes of our past. When we insist on telling the same sanitized story, it not only continues hundreds of years of ignoring the real harm my ancestors caused, but it doesn’t teach us anything about how to react in the future. Would you want to be in a relationship with someone who refused to ever acknowledge their mistakes or the harm they caused you?
This year for Thanksgiving I want to count my blessings, and reflect on how we can do better as a culture—and how I can do better as a person.
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November 25, 2023
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