Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays… it is centered most around family and food, two things I love dearly. In addition, because of my family”s Christian heritage, we saw it fit to share what we were thankful for… attempting to embody this thing called gratefulness. But is that really the right posture we ought to have as Christians towards Thanksgiving day?
The central issues that ought be considered have to do with history, memory, narrative, and power. As they say… the winner gets to right the history books. In this case, it is a warm fuzzy story of indigenous Americans helping the Europeans through a rough start, and them sharing a meal. The picture in my mind just leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy all over. However, what is not mentioned is that while the natives did in fact show much hospitality, the Western Europeans came and took everything from them. It is a story of conquest, imperialism, colonization, disease, suffering, loss, and almost complete genocide.
I do not dare suggest that a heart of gratitude is always an appropriate attitude to have at all times. We ought to be people that give thanks. But we should also be discerning people who give thanks for appropriate things. In this case, this “holiday” is a power move by the strong, to narrate history in a way that favors what was done. I am sure that this holiday is seen as hurtful and insulting to many 1st nations peoples.
This would be like their being a holiday to celebrate how helpful the African indentured servants were in 1619 in Jamestown, and how appreciative the westerners were of their hardwork. So because of this beautiful collaboration we are going to celebrate Unity Day through large festivities and parties. If this did exist, I am pretty sure what position I would take in response. So why is thanksgiving any different? Well as I write I am heading off to church and then family to “celebrate”. It must be our apathy towards others that allow us to ignore the sufferings of others.