On Thanksgiving Day it’s appropriate that my door collection is from historic sections of the East Coast – just down the coast from where the Pilgrims landed in what is today Massachusetts. I found the neatest doors in Annapolis and in Baltimore last week! Thank you, Norm, for giving me this platform to show them off! If you want to join the fun, post your Thursday doors at Norm’s page.
There is something about the feel of these old eastern towns that I am drawn to. I am not sure that I can describe it, but I recognize it when I see it. On my recent trip to Maryland I found doors that were extra special because they had that feeling.
I’ll add a note in honor of today’s holiday.
Among American Indians, Thanksgiving Day can bring up inner conflicts. I was raised (long, long ago….ha ha) in a climate where no one talked about Thanksgiving holiday in the context of accurate history. Instead, it was all about pilgrims and Indians getting along, and being thankful for things, and getting together with family.
And yeah… it’s still all that. But thank the gods Americans are now talking about the rest of the story. No, not all whites and reds got along, and they still don’t. No, that mythical first thanksgiving meal was not a joyous expression of love for fellow human beings, but more like desperate people doing what they could to stay alive. Those Indians are my ancestors, and sometimes I bitterly grumble to myself that the Wampanoag tribe saved the Plymouth colonists by sharing their food and teaching them local husbandry, and as a thank you, got despised, or killed, or diseased, and anyone left 200 years later was marched off on the Trail of Tears. But it’s disingenuous to ignore the good stuff. The rest of the story also includes the fact that our country is the landing site for pilgrims from around the world, who built a beautiful country to be proud of, and those pale-skinned people are also my ancestors.
The source of the conflict of Thanksgiving Day for me is that those whites created a system that I am now benefiting from, while simultaneously suffering the consequences of.
I am fortunate to have thrived in our school system, I fought in our military, I was a public servant for our government, I have government health care, and I am retired on taxpayer dollars. The white system is protecting me right now. At the same time, I was raised out of generations of hidden disadvantage, from people who carried ancient anger, ignorance, and hegemonic oppression – so ancient that the people who raised me didn’t even know all this was inside of them and didn’t even know where it came from. I struggled like mad to succeed in a complex system designed to keep poor, uneducated, descendants of Indians down. As a country, we are doing a better job at trying to recognize the present-day consequences of all the suffering of enslaved people. But we are barely barely scratching the surface of recognizing this same generational suffering among indigenous American families.
No wonder we feel conflicted on Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving is not a bad holiday. In my recollection of my childhood education, the aim of this holiday has been pure, and the lessons have applied to everyone: Be Thankful, Eat Together, Recognize the Greater Good Despite Our Differences. I think there is room for Thanksgiving Day to be a good holiday for everyone while we truthfully acknowledge the whole story. I’m not there yet. I don’t feel it. I’m confused and angry still, that I had to learn the awful truth about my country and this holiday so much later in my life. But I have faith that in time my country can grow into a better nation, a nation strong enough to speak the truth, apologize, respect and value each other, and stand proud together.
And eat together. Because until we learn to get along, that’s one thing we’ve got. Let’s eat!