The Grinch That Didn’t Steal Thanksgiving
“We are all one child spinning through Mother Sky.”
Full Disclosure: I Am the Thanksgiving Grinch
I offer you 8 points of evidence:
- I hate turkey. (The bird – I have nothing against the country that sits in between Greece and Iraq. It looks perfectly lovely.) I like those shrunken little dinosaurs that we call birds quite a lot; just not as food. I started disliking Thanksgiving a whole lot less when my mother started a tradition of serving salmon at Thanksgiving. (So much easier, faster, and tastier!)
- I’m allergic to wheat, so a whole lot of the other foods people adore at Thanksgiving are a really bad idea for me to eat.
- I do not do well with large infusions of sugar in small spaces of time.
- Bless my Mom Mom’s heart, I think that canned beans dumped in canned mushroom soup with canned crisp onions on top is absolutely vile. I was so grateful to grow up and find that there are far more delicious options.
- Truth be told, I’m not wild about any food that falls out of cans, on principle. Don’t get me started on that version of cranberry sauce that continues to look like the can once you plop it out. Really people, making the real thing from scratch is not that difficult and so worth it!
- I do love food and cooking and getting together with enjoyable people. Why would I only do that on a Thursday at the end of November? That just seems weird.
- My side of our family is not at all close. I thank them for helping me become a much better therapist. My husband’s family, as warm and fun as they are, tends to disperse elsewhere for Thanksgiving, so that’s out too.
But mostly, I retain my Thanksgiving Grinchiness because,
- I flat out refuse to promote a myth that Thanksgiving started with a happy yay happy feast between the surviving Mayflower Puritans, (who finally disembarked months after arriving in Massachusetts Bay,) and the Wampanoag who lived on shore. They had already experienced at least a century of abuse from people who arrived on ships. Besides, they were just starting to recover from 4 years of a horrible, viral epidemic. (I bet you can relate.)
Some call me a wet blanket. That’s an interesting choice of words given that my European ancestors gave my Native ancestors literal blankets… filled with smallpox. The genocide against Native peoples started in the 1400’s and continues today.
That’s not the story we tell at Thanksgiving. It makes us uncomfortable. The only Thanksgiving discomfort many people seem to accept comes from overeating or tolerating annoying relatives. I would be very Thanksgiving grateful if we would dump this habit we have as a country of ignoring people’s pain because we don’t want to be uncomfortable.
I’m always astonished to learn that there are people in the US who don’t realize that Native Americans still exist today. Of those who do know, many do not know:
- The US Government has ratified more than 370 treaties with Native American Nations. Guess how many have been honored? Not a single one. Not. One.
- 28.2% of Native Americans live in poverty. The poverty rate on some Reservations is as high as 63%. SIXTY-THREE PERCENT.
- Native peoples did not choose to live on barren, unyielding “Reservation” lands. They were forced, through deceit and brute force to abandon their fertile, beautiful lands in the southeastern states by the United States Government. They were forced to abandon everything they knew and walk from Tennessee to Oklahoma.
Why? Two reasons: The US Government wanted the land they were on, and, they wanted to use the Native American presence in Oklahoma as a sort of human buffer against the English and Spanish that occupied what is now the western United States. Because, hey, you know… it’s just some Natives. It’s not like they’re people or anything.
Space does not permit a full explanation of the intense brutality and devastation of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and consequent Trail of Tears. You can find a short summary here but there is much more to the story. To put a more human face on it, consider the story of my 1st cousin 7 times removed, John Cooper, found here.
- In addition to extreme poverty, healthcare in Native communities is nearly non-existent. It has been downright dangerous for Native peoples to live here on Turtle Island for more than 600 years.
That all makes it really hard for me to want to play along with the only story that a lot of people in the US have heard about the relationship between my Native family and the colonists being all yayhappyyayharmonyjoykumbaya.
This is also where I diverge from the Grinch story, however. My heart is not “two sizes too small,” and I don’t need a Cindy Lou Who to help me recover. Ironically, the one thing that I do resonate with at Thanksgiving is the thing that keeps me from such bitterness: Gratitude.
Like my Native ancestors, like my Mayflower ancestors, like so many humans, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Even in the worst of things, gratitude. Without any fictionalizing, without shirking from painful truths, there remains so much for which I am grateful.
Enjoy that Bipedal Theropod!
I won’t be eating a dinosaur on Thursday. (Plenty left for the rest of you.) I won’t be frantically cooking a bunch of things and having a bunch of people over this year. However, I will be spending some time thanking all of my ancestors for all of who they are, and being grateful that even in all of my Grinchiness, my life is full of gratitude.
Are there things that stand in between you and gratitude? Contact Tiffany today. Let’s find your path to something that might serve you better.