By Reese Burns, Assistant Editor
With having just celebrated Thanksgiving, the debate arises as to whether or not the celebration of this American holiday is justified. A day full of turkey, stuffing, and pie has a substantial number of American families coming together to be thankful. Despite Thanksgiving being my personal favorite holiday, it has come to my attention that I must take the responsibility of educating myself on its history.
The first time I remember learning about the history of Thanksgiving was sometime in between kindergarten and third grade. I remember sitting with my classmates, making hand turkeys and other sorts of arts and crafts attempting to resemble Native headdresses. The way I and many other American children were taught focuses only on the feast which supposedly brought together the pilgrims and the Native Americans as they set their differences aside to co-exist in peace.
We can’t ignore that the way the history of Thanksgiving is taught in schools lacks crucial aspects of the truth. It is clear the roots of Thanksgiving go far beyond the first feast between the pilgrims and the Native Americans, or when peace was finally made, because peace, as we like to imagine it, was by no means made.
Similar to the infamous Columbus Day, the merciless claiming of stolen land plays a much larger role in Thanksgiving than the supposed feast does. Inequality is still widely prevalent today even though we want to pretend we don’t see it. Therefore, many refer to Thanksgiving as “The National Day of Mourning” in which the holiday is spent remembering the lives and land lost due to the inhabitation of the colonists. Some argue that feasting on Thanksgiving is an inappropriate practice considering what the day truly represents. Robert Jensen, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, argues, “One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.”
However, denying how much Thanksgiving means to some families would be an injustice in itself. Sometimes all people need is a day they can spend with their friends and families and reflect on everything they are thankful for. This element of Thanksgiving might be the glue some families rely on to stick together. Whatever the case is, I believe it is important to take this day to recognize what and who we have surrounding us. I know I have a lot to be thankful for and I love having a day I can dedicate to my appreciation.
In conclusion, Thanksgiving will remain a holiday intertwined with controversy regarding the foundation of America and the way in which families show their gratitude. I don’t believe there is any right or wrong way to celebrate Thanksgiving as long as we remember the truth behind the land we celebrate it on.