Today is Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving.  With time and increased exposure, I become more aware of how problematic this holiday truly is.  I also recognize that for many people, this is a day that embodies their faith.  It’s something I’ve come to understand about Christianity: what many Christians believe is right and good often hurts others and comes from a place of control and power.  I don’t know how to reconcile this dichotomy, especially since there is a degree of truth in nearly all perspectives and perceptions.  There is both joy in this day and grief, as well as a history of friendship and of oppression, shared skills and conquering.  In bible classes and schools, children are taught the palatable version of the history of Thanksgiving.  Like any story, there are aspects of this that are honest.  To be anything the average person can stomach and taste, the unsavory portions have been left out.  For those of us who read about history beyond our textbooks, we know there are deep wounds reopened during November.  It’s arguable that celebrating as most normally do during this month is glorifying the near obliteration of many Native American tribes while simultaneously degrading their descendants by acting as if all Native Americans are a monolith.  Ironically, the first bible published in what is now the United States was an Algonquian translation for the Wampanoag and other Algonquian speaking tribes, yet less than five thousand Wampanoag people live today.  The idealistic tale that the Pilgrims and Native Americans shared a Thanksgiving meal today years ago isn’t untrue.  They did eat together because of a good harvest and the Pilgrims wishing to thank the Wampanoag people for giving them food and supplies to survive the harsh year prior.  It also helped that the Pilgrims agreed to be allies against one tribe warring with another.  As jaded and cold as it might seem, this united meal was more likely one of social and political necessity and not one to promote true camaraderie.  Even so, when most Christians were met with generosity, they eventually forgot and continued what became a centuries old crusade of marginalization in the name of God.  Again, I don’t know how to reconcile the good of this day and the negative through line that I represent as a Christian.  If I deny this history and separate myself from it, because I didn’t personally contribute to it, I do take part in the suppression of a more accurate historical interpretation, thus continuing that same through line.  Where the need to share a more sincere version of history intersects with the sincerity Christians feel about this day is an enigma to me.  It is good to be grateful.  It is good to be thankful.  It is good to share with others, to eat and have fellowship.  It is also good to tell the stories of those in our past, even if those stories leave us with no appetite for the meals in front of us. 

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