I’m usually a big fan of Thanksgiving, because it’s my favorite of the family holidays, but I’ve never particularly cared about its origins. It’s just an excuse to take some time off work and spend a day stuffing face with people I love. I don’t need a back story to justify it.
However, with what’s going on with the DAPL protests it’s hard not to be reminded of the narrative that is attached to the holiday and how bullshit it is. Even if you don’t object to the DAPL, you’d have to be pretty callous not to think there has to be better ways to address the Native American’s objections than the militarized aggression they’ve been shown. To celebrate a holiday that’s supposedly about how grateful settlers were to the native people for generously not letting them starve to death while encroaching onto their land while that’s going on seems, to put it mildly, insensitive.
Still, I have food to eat and people to appreciate right here and I’m not going to let them go to waste. I’m not going to wallow in guilt for the sins of my forefathers. There is always suffering in the world and if we don’t allow ourselves to enjoy life while others suffer then there will never, ever again be joy in the world because reality is inherently brutal and unfair.
One of the great things about being human, though, is having a greater capacity for defying nature and caring about things outside our immediate situation. Not all of us do, of course, but all of us have the ability to and that is awesome. We’re amazingly complex in the amazing scope of things we can think and feel simultaneously. That is what I am truly thankful for. That today I will be able to fully appreciate gorging myself on tasty food, laughing with my holiday companions, and still be thinking about what is within my means to help others.
So, enjoy feasting with your loved ones today, but perhaps spare some thought for a people struggling not to vanish from the Earth while we indulge in a holiday wrapped in candy-coated tales that leave out the destruction settlers wrought upon them. Consider including in your celebration taking an opportunity to return the favor long ago done for us to their descendants.