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Our modern tradition is based on harvest meal that took place in the 1600's in Plymouth Massachusetts. The documentation on this meal is limited. The holiday was created on the last Thursday of November by the federal government in 1941.
So why is it that we get all fired upset about working on Thanksgiving but yet demand that Columbus day be renamed to honor the Native Americans? Why do we see one as racism and the other as not?
Glen Ford wrote the following regarding the American Thanksgiving: (link)
William Bradford, the former Governor of Plymouth and one of the chroniclers of the 1621 feast, was also on hand for the great massacre of 1637:
“Those that escaped the fire were slain with the sword; some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers, so that they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire…horrible was the stink and scent thereof, but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to enclose their enemies in their hands, and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enemy.”
While I have had some nasty family dinners, no one ended up run through with a sword. So now, let's think about these projects where you spend X number of days writing about being thankful for things. First let me state that I think it is a fantastic idea to be thankful. Everyday I wake up and thanks the earth for being under my feet and the sky above. I thank the birds of the trees and all the wonderful things that I have in my life. I don't however, feel obligated to do this. I do this automatically. I don't need a month or a holiday to make it happen.
I think instinctively I avoid taking part in these things because I do not condone what happened to the native people who lived on this island before Europeans came here and destroyed their culture. Our ancestors tried to conquer a people and when they could not enslave them, they killed them. Plain and simple. There is no honor there. Celebrating this month as some sort of holy month for those to be thankful of all things fall is a bit of a misnomer.
Especially since the majority of those reverent US citizens will celebrate Thanksgiving in the following manner:
While getting set to schedule your blog posts or share your wonderful Thanksgiving messages, I only ask that you actually do a little research on the holiday. Be sure to fully understand what you're celebrating. And remember, you don't need to have a special month or day to be thankful for what you have. You can do that anytime.
Thanksgiving from a Native Standpoint
The First Thanksgiving - Lies My Teacher Told Me
Thanksgiving - A National Day of Mourning