Despite the controversy surrounding Thanksgiving in the United States — people say that it celebrates colonialism, brutality, genocide, epidemics, and slavery — it’s still a day of celebration for most of us. We don’t celebrate the mythical origins of the holiday, we merely take the day as it is presented to us — a day of being thankful, of being grateful for the good in our lives.
And truly, that is a wonderful thing — people getting together to celebrate thankfulness.
Languages evolve over time, meanings evolve, holidays evolve. What a holiday once meant, it no longer does. (In fact, the word “holiday” no longer means what it once did; it’s come a long way from the original “holy day.”) Just look at Halloween. It means something different to everyone, from the most religious to the most profane, and yet, there it is.
Thanksgiving is turning out to be the same. For most of us, the story of the first Thanksgiving has no meaning. We are newcomers. (I am a second generation American. The woman I spent the day with is a naturalized citizen.) And so we create our own traditions layered upon the older traditions.
I had no intention of getting into all this even to the extent that I did, but I wanted to point out that despite its mythical and self-serving origins, Thanksgiving is still an important day. Though come to think of it, I don’t need to have a day set aside to remind me to give thanks. Every time I look around my house or meander the paths in my yard, I give thanks for what life has offered me.
Today I did have a special reason to be thankful. A friend spent the day with me, and we feasted both on food and good conversation.
And that, too, is worth celebrating.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.