Some people want to eliminate Thanksgiving as a national holiday. They prefer a day of atonement for the mistreatment of indigenous people.
In grade school, I was taught about The Mayflower and the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth rock. Jeny had three relatives on the Mayflower and she has little interest in them.
My teachers said Squanto taught the pilgrims farming and survival skills. The Pilgrims and some Indians celebrated the success of the first harvest and Thanksgiving has roots in that festival.
Later I found out how difficult the voyage was and how many pilgrims died the first winter as they remained aboard ship.
I also learned Squanto was Tisquantum. He had been captured and been in slavery in Europe. He learned English. He made his way to freedom and returned to America only to find out his tribe had been annihilated by smallpox and other diseases brought to America by Europeans. He was adopted by the Wampanoag tribe. He was the last of the Pawtuxet.
His language skills were of enormous help in the relationships between the Wampanoag tribe and the Pilgrims. His survival skills saved the Pilgrims.
The feast to celebrate a successful harvest was a tradition practiced in many locations. It was not a national practice until William Seward drafted the Thanksgiving Proclamation delivered by Abraham Lincoln. The proclamation called for the holiday to be a national holiday and to occur on a continuous basis. But it took until 1941 for Thanksgiving to become an official national holiday.
Although the holiday has its roots in my grade school knowledge, the day has many more meanings. For example, Lincoln was in the midst of the Civil War. Lincoln hoped a day of thankfulness for our blessings would be a step toward unification of a vastly divided nation. That, I suggest, would be a worthy purpose for Thanksgiving Day this year given the current mess in which we live.
I can rue First Nations treatment AND celebrate Thanksgiving. I chose to do both. The situation is another “and” answer rather than “either or.”
When I get up Thanksgiving morning, I will not be celebrating America’s Pilgrims past. I will pause and give thanks to God for a long list of present blessings. I will pray for those in need. I will then make contributions in support of the needs of others.
I will also pray for unity in our land and in the world. I will remember Martin Louis King III’s statement: “We must learn to live together as brothers (and sisters) or we will surely die together as fools.”
I would be remiss if in the season of thanksgiving I failed to extend my THANKS to you. Your support of Jeny has been remarkable, heartwarming and deeply appreciated. She had her scan on Monday and we will know the results next Monday.