Remembering Thanksgiving

It was 2015 when Columbus Day took its last gasp. There were many reasons why it was a really poor choice of holiday, why Columbus was unworthy of celebration, from his not having discovered anything except from the European colonialist perspective, to his having raped an island native when he arrived. Some decided it was better to use the day to celebrate the indigenous people who suffered as a result of his arrival in the New World, their world.

The New York Times has decided to similarly correct the history of Thanksgiving.

Not to rain on our Thanksgiving Day parade, but the story of the first Thanksgiving, as most Americans have been taught it, is not exactly accurate.

By “not exactly,” they mean everything you think you know about Thanksgiving is wrong. Not merely inaccurate, but as is necessarily the case, a story of death and destruction.

A prevalent opposing viewpoint is that the first Thanksgiving stemmed from the massacre of Pequot people in 1637, a culmination of the Pequot War. While it is true that a day of thanksgiving was noted in the Massachusetts Bay and the Plymouth colonies afterward, it is not accurate to say it was the basis for our modern Thanksgiving, Ms. Sheehan said.

And Plymouth, Mr. Loewen noted, was already a village with clear fields and a spring when the Pilgrims found it. “A lovely place to settle,” he said. “Why was it available? Because every single native person who had been living there was a corpse.” Plagues had wiped them out.

Whether this is the “real” history misses the point, and the compulsion to “correct” the record and turn every tradition we hold dear into a story of the horrors inflicted on others to prove how power structures oppress the marginalized. The history of mankind is replete with victors and the defeated, and if the marginalized won, the story would be otherwise and they would be the oppressors. But they didn’t, and history is written from the winners’ perspective. That’s as it’s always been, and as it should be. Yes, as it should be, as one of the benefits of prevailing. There’s a reason we have no holiday to celebrate the mystery of Jamestown.

But Thanksgiving, our most beloved secular holiday, has become one of the most wonderful and inspirational holidays. The story behind it may be a myth, but it’s a myth we need, a myth that serves us well. Sometimes it’s best not to look behind the curtain, to spend one’s time seeking ugliness and reason to be outraged.

On this day, we can choose to enjoy the privilege of our lives and give thanks, whether to family, God or country, that we are so fortunate as to live in a nation that affords us vast opportunity. I’ve no doubt any woke person can provide a long list of our horribles, the people we’ve harmed, those who enjoy less opportunity than others, the pain and suffering that continues in the world, albeit far less so than in the past. But for this one day, look at the good things you’ve got and, for one brief, shining moment, give thanks for them.

If you choose to wallow in misery for the benefit of others, to turn over every rock, every pebble, in search of a reason to be outraged at your parents, you will miss out on the pleasure of a pumpkin pie. If you feel too guilty to enjoy the beneficence this country has given you, go serve the less fortunate at a soup kitchen. They will give thanks for your kindness, even if you can’t find it in your heart to do the same.

Thanksgiving may be a myth, but it’s a good myth, a wonderful myth. Don’t ruin it.

Thank you all for your support. I sincerely appreciate it.

Happy Thanksgiving.

17 thoughts on “Remembering Thanksgiving

    1. Patrick Maupin

      I’m not cosmopolitan enough for that, but everybody can have a hug. And hanging out in the hotel lobby here is certainly more informative and entertaining than watching Fawlty Towers. I have lots to be thankful for, including the fact I still have a mother, even if she did unilaterally decide that thanksgiving would be at my house this year. Time to go prepare for the descending hordes.

      Merry Turkey to all, and to all a Good Pie!

  1. Hunting Guy

    Happy Turkey Day to all!

    May your favorite football team prevail!

    Now to prepare the fishsticks for the feast. After all, to be accurate for the first thanksgiving in the New World, fish was a main course.

  2. Jim Tyre

    we can choose to enjoy the privilege of our lives

    And there it is. Even the slightest hope of your redemption is now gone.

    Happy National Alka-Seltzer Awareness Day, my friend.

    1. SHG Post author

      I will eat my pie today without any guilt. I will, however, enjoy a nice glass of Kracher trockenbeerenauslese with it.

  3. JorgXMcKie

    My wife and I were at my sister’s (formerly my mother’s house (a 515 mile trip one-way)) in a village of 150, sharing a traditional meal with 40+ of my family, ex-family, friends, neighbors, shirt-tail relatives, hangers-on, passers-by, ne’er-do-wells, in-laws, outlaws, and a general selection of the ruck and ruin (sic) of local humanity. And we all had a good time. Children were cuddled, few to no politics were discussed, old family stories were retold for new generations (families need myths, too), and love was all around. Ages 2-71 with 2 current pregnancies.

    One of the best days of the year. One of the best days ever. I love Thanksgiving.

  4. B. McLeod

    Pilgrims, or NYT, whatever.

    Thanksgiving, as I have seen and remembered it for many years, is a time when people scrape up the makings of a feast, no matter what else is going on, and have friends and family over for a gathering. Sometimes, friends and family we don’t often see during the year, and sometimes, people we have not seen for many years. It’s more about catching up with friends and family than it is about giving thanks, or maybe, it’s about giving thanks for that chance to catch up. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about, Charlie Brown. And fuck the NYT. What do they know?

    1. Casual Lurker

      Ditto!
      Heck, we even fed our inmates patients guests something resembling turkey, but with a taste closer to Nutriloaf.

  5. Nemo

    I will add my well-wishes, as well. You are correct, the traditions of Thanksgiving are well worth retaining, because even the fictional parts speak to gathering together family, friends, and our fellow folks. In any such gathering there’s likely to be bickering, and the sharpness of the memories may tend to drown out the rest, but the thing that must not be overlooked is the kindnesses, large and small, that also tend to thread their way through the gathering, strengthening bonds as they go.

    I hope you will forgive me for the addition, but woulda put this on the previous anyway:

    Mr. Greenfield, there are many ways to describe what you do here, but perhaps my clumsy illustration will prove helpful. In short, what you do is not so much factual analyses, but rather you run a given set of facts through a logical process, and the results are the results, no matter who it pisses off, even yourself.

    That you do so twice a day, day in and day out is remarkable, but what is more remarkable is the great pains you take to make the ‘logic machine’ transparent*, to the point of… Well, sliding off the topic of the logic machine is hazardous to your health, here.

    Anyway, I sit here and lift a cheap beer in a toast to you and yours. May the family traditions and bonds persist to untold generations.

    Nemo
    *Just “saw” this tonight, so don’t kill me for not complying with that concept, ok? Also, since offerings of support are in order, I will note something you have already deduced, that I have sent a more spendable token, via a 3rd party. The reason for the cut-out was primarily convenience, but I hope I made the point that it’s a token of unconditional support, and nothing more.

    Your good health, sir,

    N

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