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Friday, November 23, 2012


In elementary school, the way we learned about Thanksgiving was that people in loincloths and feathers sat down with people with funny buckle shoes and dowdy hats, and had this awesome feast. They were so buddy-buddy, you wanted to be at that first Thanksgiving table! We all made hats out of construction paper in class and sat down as "Indians" and "Pilgrims."

They didn't teach you until later about the genocide of the American Indians. No teacher told us about the idea of Manifest Destiny causing the death of so many that Holocaust expert David Cesarani stated that more were killed during the white settling of this country than the Holocaust. The Trail of Tears led the Choctaw, Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, and Chickasaw on a death march in the middle of freezing cold and famine.

Nothing was mentioned in elementary school that the first Pilgrims would have not survived their first year here if it weren't for the Wampanoag tribe, and that the Pilgrims later fell to cannibalism to survive. That the graves of the Wampanoag were robbed by the pilgrims, their crops were stolen, and the Wampanoag themselves were sold into slavery wouldn't have made for a good national holiday. Thanksgiving would be an untainted holiday if the schools had left American Indian/Pilgrim "friendship" out altogether. Why it became such a part of the curriculum of public schools still makes no sense to me, and miffs me a bit how sugarcoated history can be.

I love my grandma
I'm part Choctaw. What do I do with this holiday, that glosses over most of the nasty parts of our history yet presents it to little kids as such? Do I shun it, like many American Indians? Do I embrace it, like some do? I'm not Christian nor does my family celebrate this as a religious holiday, so I am certainly not thanking a god with this holiday.

I guess I am truly an adult now, when this sort of soul searching occurs.

I do, and will continue to, celebrate Thanksgiving. You will never find any caricatures of smiley feather-wearing natives decorating our table.  I view it simply as a day of thanks and giving gratitude back for family, friends, and health, which is one holiday that makes sense in every culture. No lavish gifts, no rampant spending and commercialization, just comfort food and the comfort of family.

I was especially thankful that almost everyone was able to make it this year. I wish I could freeze time to when I was a kid and everyone was healthy and younger, but my family and loved ones are getting older and older.

And don't worry, recipes will follow. Right now, it's time to reflect and digest.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Miss Mochi! Very well written post and it was interesting to read about your multicultural background (I enjoyed reading about your family history in About page too). Looks like you had a feast! It's nice that your grandma is healthy and cooks great meals!