The holidays are just around the corner, and in a world still reeling from the devastating effects of Covid and the political unrest from various mandates and vaccine wars, the holidays are even more important as they give us a chance to decorate (I started seeing Halloween decorations in early September) and celebrate what is truly important in life — family and friends. Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to connect with our extended family, and then several hours later, complain about them to our friends.
This is where the true magic of Thanksgiving always comes through for me. While I enjoy spending time and breaking bread with my family, for many it’s not like that. The best part of Thanksgiving night is connecting with my friends, eating way too much pie, drinking too much beer, and swapping holiday horror stories. In my head, this is a celebration. This is Thanksgiving.
The stories of the peaceful pilgrims dining alongside their Native American brothers and sisters pretty much went out the window when I got out of elementary school and became something that I grew to assume was a fiction created for the entertainment of school children. It surprised me when I learned there were some people who, as a form of protest, choose not to celebrate Thanksgiving. Some would say this is being “woke”. Woke is defined by Oxford as, “alert to injustice in society, especially racism.”
Different people may have many different reasons for not celebrating. One of the main reasons is that people feel the holiday makes light of Native American peoples being stripped of their culture and replaces the horrors they have faced with a Norman Rockwell-worthy picture of togetherness and unity that just didn’t happen. The story of the first Thanksgiving is quite a bit different than the story we’ve all been told, and a lot of historians can’t even agree on an exact event that was the true “first Thanksgiving.”
Some version of Thanksgiving has been celebrated in many cultures throughout most of human history, usually as a somewhat religious harvest feast designed to give thanks for a bountiful crop. In the United States, Thanksgiving has been celebrated on various dates throughout the nation. But it wasn’t until 1863, when it was championed by Sarah Josepha Hale (of “Mary had a Little Lamb” fame) with a successful appeal to President Abraham Lincoln, that we began to celebrate it on the third Thursday in November. Her intention was to unify the nation after the Civil War. So, Thanksgiving has several origins depending on how you look at it.
God willing, we are all able to connect with our loved ones, then go and complain about our wonderful, horrible situations with our friends. Make sure to eat way too much pie and drink way too much beer! Do it in the spirit of togetherness, or do it in defiance of rationalized racism and genocide.
Here is some food for thought: Can you choose what “version” of history you are observing? Is it possible to ignore the story we have been told that undoubtedly stems from a time when racism was overlooked? What can be gained by boycotting, and will it do any good? Can you be too woke to celebrate Thanksgiving? You tell me! Leave us your comments below.
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