Happy Thanksgiving! Whatever That Means.

Happy Thanksgiving! Whatever that means.

Look, I’m a big fan of holidays. Any excuse to celebrate being alive is one that I’ll take. But that doesn’t mean that some holidays don’t take precedence over others. And, to be totally honest, I don’t really know what aspects of being alive I’m celebrating every time that turkey season comes rolling around again.

I’ve heard of some connection to pilgrims and colonialism, and if that’s the case, I don’t know if Thanksgiving is a holiday that I can totally support. I don’t want to be the type of person who just ignores the genocide of the indigenous people, particularly not when that is still a problem in my country. But, at the same time, as much as I think that’s what Thanksgiving is tied to in America, I don’t know if the same is true in Canada. I know that we have the history, but I don’t know if we have the same pride in it that America does, and I’m not sure if Canada explicitly connects the holiday to the same idea. This all leaves me with a general unsettled idea of “I don’t know.”

When I was a kid, after all, Thanksgiving was never connected to colonialism at school. We didn’t talk about pilgrims or conquering a nation, but about Thanksgiving being a time of… well, giving thanks. Every time the season came around, we were expected to craft the same paper turkey, and on it, we listed all the things that we were most grateful for. And if this is what Thanksgiving is celebrating, I think I can support that. I mean, I’m not really the sort of person to say that our youth today is ‘ungrateful’ and that we ‘don’t know how good we have it’. I personally feel that I’m constantly aware of the things in my life that I’m lucky to have, that there isn’t a day in the year where I forget how good it is to have a roof over my head and my family, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t important to have a particularly strong annual reminder. At least, I’ve heard of worse reasons to drop everything and celebrate being alive.

At the end of the day, though, I’m forced to admit that I really don’t know what Thanksgiving is about. I don’t know if it’s an innocent celebration of being grateful, but I wouldn’t put it past our society to conceal a very ugly history either. And a part of me wishes that that doubt didn’t weigh as heavily on my mind as it does. I mean, I may not agree completely with the history of Christianity, but I can still recognize Christmas as a celebration of joy, peace, and love. So why can’t I do the same with Thanksgiving? Especially when I’m still in doubt about just how deep the ugliness runs in the latter holiday?

Is it because we talk about the problems in Christianity?

Is it because I’m still uncomfortable about the fact that I didn’t even learn the full extent of the problems with colonialism until my second year of university?

I don’t know. I don’t even know if I have a right to my discomfort. All that I really know is that I am home with my family for Thanksgiving, and we have plans to gorge ourselves on roast chicken, mashed cauliflower, and pumpkin pie later today. And if that in any way supports something that I don’t agree with, something other than my usual celebration of life, then it is completely unintentional and I apologize for it.

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