Initially my intention for this issue of Thoughts from The Joan Zone was to steer away from my obsessive focus on the ‘real history’ of Thanksgiving and instead bring to light what I’ve realized most people enjoy most about this holiday. But now that I sit down and weave my thoughts together, the reason why we experience Thanksgiving in this loving way has more to do with the origins of Thanksgiving than my protesting mind was willing to see.
To give a little back story, since the first anthropology class I took at Oregon State University, I’ve had an aversion to the holiday. The first thing that shook me was that I had to wait until I got to college to get the truthful version behind how it began. I’m from Connecticut and grew up very close to where the first settlements were located. I remember a few school field trips to the Nature Museum where we looked through exhibits of native artifacts and mock ups of what housing may have looked like. I don’t feel like this is the right place to get political about the whole thing but let me just say that the true history of the Pilgrims and Indians wasn’t the cheery sit down together for a big happy meal, that I was taught in school. The truth looks a little more like the depiction Wednesday Addams orchestrates in the movie ‘Addam’s Family Values.’
Once I began training under Wind Wolf Women, I got more enraged about this injustice. But as the years and many Thanksgivings have passed, many spent in loving company, some spent alone and some under awkward invitations, I am curious as to how other people view this holiday, that, by the way, was invented by politicians as cultural propaganda officially delegated by Abraham Lincoln. It was created to bring family’s together during the civil war. If you want a quick more realistic rendition of what really happened read this article:
But like I’ve said, over the years my obsessive focus on the atrocities has shifted. I honor the history with sadness and gratitude. In a practice of presence and mindfulness, I’ve observed a coming together of friends, acquaintances and family over lots and lots of yummy food. It’s a day that most people do stop to recognize what they are truly grateful for. It is one of the least commercial major holidays we celebrate, and it feels like a genuine outpouring of generosity.
From most true historical accounts, the natives did help the European Pilgrims, who came from an urban way of life, learn how to hunt and farm. I don’t think they did this with expectations or conditions attached. And I know, some of their medicine people had visions of what the Pilgrims would eventually do to the land and the Native people. But they still gave. I know this is also a watered-down version of the complexity of this history. But I’d like to focus on that unconditionally loving spirit in each of us. Whatever manner you celebrate or not, perhaps observe how you offer gratitude and love, give without expectations and offer unconditional gratitude for what has been given to you.