What do you about Thanksgiving?

What do you about Thanksgiving?

What are you doing this thanksgiving? I had always hoped to avoid the holiday madness at least once in my life and damn, this year still brings me no relief. Ha. You thought I was going to plop on the couch and watch tv? Maybe watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Speaking of which, have you seen the compilation fails of the parade? They are hilarious. But not this year, it’s not my style apparently. Thanksgiving is symbolic of traditions and the comfort of knowing what to expect. Although the family is not having any get togethers or parties we are still cooking a big feast and doing a drive by Thanksgiving. This should be interesting. My grammies chili cadeve is to die for. This deep almost burgundy wine red sauce is poured over all the thanksgiving goodies. It gives everything a smokey, spicy flavor and as you savor every gluttonous bite you can’t help think about the next one. The chili is the showstopper on the table. That’s what I think about during this time of the year as far as food and family is concerned. But enough about myself, this Thanksgiving we are taking the opportunity to shed some light on the holiday’s history and what this holiday means in this nation with a special focus on Native Americans. 

When you were in school it was all turkey, pie and the surprise turkey meat. I learned of the pilgrims coming to the new world and feasting with the natives and it was this great cultural events. I'm not sure what public education you got, but I’m sure we can all agree that Thanksgiving was painted as happiness and camaraderie. If 2020 has opened your eyes to any of our history’s injustice then it should come as no surprise that the events surrounding Thanksgiving are not as happy as pilgrims and “indians” eating turkey around the table. Like much of our nation’s history that glosses and hides the ugly, Thanksgiving is no exception. 

In September of 1620 the mayflower set sail to the new land. Its passengers were separatists of the Church of England, what we now call pilgrims. At this point in their history they already fled England and freely practiced their religion in Holland. But they believed that in order to truly practice their faith they needed to establish their “perfect” religious kingdom in the new world. They had a harsh winter when they docked in massachusetts. Only half the passengers survived and those remaining settled on the shores. The Natives helped them grow food and use the land. Many people believe that the meeting of the pilgrims and Native Americans, in this case the Wampanoag tribe, was the first mixing of the two races. In actuality Native Americans were well aware of the English and many voyages were made by Englishmen before – hello Jamestown, Virginia anyone?! The Pilgrims were able to build a life in Plymouth without much resistance, mainly because the Natives of that area were already decimated from previous disease brought most likely by rats from overseas. Squanto, as many learned about in history, was a real human that helped communication between the two. He was a former slave that escaped Europe and made it back to the U.S. His tribe would eventually be massacred. After a year the pilgrims did host a three day feast that was attended by members of the tribe but it wasn’t until the 1800s that Thanksgiving was established as a holiday. The first mention of “thanksgiving” amongst the pilgrims, or better known as colonizers at this point, was after a massacre of the Pequot tribe in which they celebrated their victory in 1637. This was Squanto's tribe. As the years passed feasting and religious fasting were hallmark traditions of the holiday. 

More than a century later, a few more religions established, Independence from Britain, many states had a day or two to celebrate. Abe Lincoln declared the holiday the last thursday in November some would say at the behest of “The Lady of Thanksgiving in 1789. He would go on to say that it was a way for the nation to unify. This is the Thanksgiving that we know and celebrate today. People coming together and eating food, and having a good time. Un-coincidently around this time immigrants were arriving in the nation and many protestants feared for their way of life. Nationalism was a hot topic at this time. We see schools indoctrinating kids with the idea of pilgrims and happy "Indians." I’m sure many of you know something about the treacherous massacres of the Native Americans. They were painted as savages throughout our history. If you google Native American history it's a sad one. That's why this thanksgiving, as we celebrate we are also taking the time to think about our nation's history and show respect and support for other cultures and peoples and how celebrate this holiday. Some Native Americans use this period as a day to mourn what they lost and others use this day to create a new meaning for themselves. Let us know how you celebrate Thanksgiving.

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