Saturday, November 17, 2012

Why I Say, "Bah, Humbug" To Traditional Thanksgiving

In less that a week, the vast majority of American families will get together, eat a huge feast, watch football, watch parades, and give thanks for their lives.  A few will discuss the story behind Thanksgiving that we all learned in elementary school.  But I feel like we as a country have not only forgotten the lesson of Thanksgiving, but I wonder if anyone really got it at all.

Why?  Because we, the new Native Americans, do not welcome people into our country with open arms.  We don't help others live, and we definitely don't share a large percentage of our food with strangers in a show of harmony.  What we do is persecute people who want to come to the United States; we greet people with suspicion and lots of questions.
Do you have a job or a visible means of support?
Do you have an education?
Do you have any sexually transmitted diseases, or any other communicable diseases?
Do you have family in the U.S. to help you out?
Are you bringing family with you?
If yes, how many?  Who are they?
Maybe we can blame our reluctance towards new people on the fate of the original American Indians, since history shows that nothing good happened to them after the Europeans arrived.  After helping the new settlers, more immigrants sailed over and began to kick the Native Americans out of their territory.  We brought over the flu and other diseases that acted as plagues.  We brought over alcohol, and destroyed lives with it.  We wiped out most of the Native Americans, stole their land, and polluted the environment.

In general, Thanksgiving marked the rise of the colonists and the downfall of the Native Americans.

So what are we celebrating when we eat Thanksgiving dinner?  Are we celebrating the success of the colonists to serve in the New World?  Even though those same colonists contributed to the virtual genocide of a native people?

Sorry, but I must say "Bah, humbug" to that Thanksgiving.

But I still have a Thanksgiving dinner.  What I celebrate is the ability of humans to share, to learn together, and to be kind to one another.  I celebrate the times when we rise above ourselves to help each other, to put another person ahead of ourselves and do what is right - to become the people that we want to be, if only for a moment.

3 comments:

  1. The tricky bit is what we were taught in elementary school is the Thanksgiving myth. Historically our Thanksgiving is far more like the original Harvest Festivals because the first Thanksgivings were about fasting and prayer and did not involve eating at all!

    It was not until 1863 that Thanksgiving combined with the Harvest Festival and became a day to celebrate and eat together. This was quite a bit after Native Americans were out of the picture and unable to bring corn to the table.

    Then came FDR in 1939 (no Native Americans involved at this point) used Thanksgiving to boost the depressed economy. Making it a national day of thanks. Thanksgiving still plays a major roll in commercial success. Each extra day between Thanksgiving and Christmas boosts our economy. I cannot comprehend the complaints about keeping Christmas to December in light of knowing each day brings in more not just the same amount spread over more days.

    Modern day Thanksgiving like it or not is about American indulgence and has little to do with making it in the colonies.

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    1. Do you ever wonder why the elementary school myth persists?

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  2. The first part of your post reminded me that Bill O'Reilly was whining about this country not being what it used to be, and Jon Stewart reminding us/him that what this country "used to be" also wasn't what it really used to be, etc.

    We also partake of the good foods of this holiday (turkey, pies, ham, whatever), but we're of the opinion that Columbus was a terrorist and we stole the land from the Native people, so we don't actually celebrate it.

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