This morning I woke to see a post from Seth Godin saying that this is "the only holiday that really matters.” Thanksgiving. Are you freakin' kidding me?
Now, in no way do I intend to“call anyone out” for sending wishes of thankfulness. It is a lovely sentiment and should always be applauded. Still that post stuck in my throat like that little pointy bone in a chicken.
Thanksgiving has always been a day of ambivalence for me.
I love the big family meal where everyone brings something to the table. We all help out setting and cleaning up. I love watching Lila play with her friends, and the very tastes of turkey and cranberry, stuffing and my specialty chocolate pecan pie remind me of this time we spend together.
Am I to be completely honest, if I could suddenly zip back to Atlanta right now to be with the whole ganza mishpacha, I would do it without a second thought. Thanksgiving holds a special place for many expats, because it tends to be a very American holiday.
It’s also my favorite time of the year. Crisp but not too cold to keep you from going outside. The leaves on the ground impart a unique scent to the entire city of Atlanta and everything is quiet on the streets as people sit down for dinner.
On the other hand and a hand that shouldn't -- although too often is -- ignored.
Thanksgiving is a day of mourning for many. It’s the yearly reminder of blankets with smallpox, families murdered, entire peoples marched sick and dying for thousands of miles, stolen land and lost hope.
For this reason, I couldn’t bring myself to post Thanksgiving recipes to mark the day on the Matador Life, and why we chose to post an article on Native American Thanksgiving traditions instead. Definitely check out the wonderful article Candice Walsh, the fabulous associate editor and angry redhead wrote.
Noah and I chatted about it over coffee this morning. He, as always, has a unique view of things, often stated so wryly and succinctly it is difficult to hear. In short, he sees the second view of Thanksgiving as “post colonial guilt.” As expected, I bristle strongly at the suggestion.
“The Indians lost,” he says. “If they had won, we wouldn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. We wouldn’t use their images as mascots for sports teams. Thanksgiving is a victory holiday. That is at base what we are celebrating, and history is littered with this kind of mangled crap.”
South America. Australia. Canada. New Zealand. Name a country where you won’t find someone with a similar history. It's inescapable.
But to celebrate with a feast? It's something I simply can't reconcile.
Should reparations be made?
If so, how? And who? So many of the people living in the US are immigrants – including myself – and have no direct responsibility for what happened aside for our choice to live in a country that now offers greater freedom and opportunity than the countries we left.
I also wonder if we had it to do all over again today, with the knowledge we now have, would we do the same thing again?
The more I write, the more I realize I have no answers, only questions. With that, I leave you with my final one. How can we celebrate all the good we have without remembering what was lost in order to pave the way?
Photos courtesy of Jonathan Hamner's Flickrstream