Blessings for Understanding
Growing up, Thanksgiving was all about gathering with family to share food, family stories, and gratitude for the abundance we enjoyed. It was, for us, a harvest festival. The only place I remember hearing about the myth of the pilgrims and the Native Americans was at grade school. The one connection to the Thanksgiving myth I can remember was the particularly American selection of food, although my family also made that very much their own by spicing everything with Mediterranean flavors of cinnamon, clove, oregano, and fennel. Even the stuffing had more nuts and meat in it than bread.
I am, however, at peace with giving voice to the myth and lie of the Thanksgiving holiday and putting it in the right relationship to our nation’s horrific treatment of Indigenous people. This is the time to look clear eyed at what was done—by whom, to whom and why—so we can begin to heal the harm.
Untangling the wrongs of the past is deeply difficult, and there are many stories of displacement and discrimination—some that our own ancestors perpetrated, and some that were inflicted on our ancestors. I say this not to compare and contrast suffering, but to help us all perhaps get some sense of the injustice and trauma.
I hope we can completely transform this time as that of the harvest celebration and all gather together around the table to celebrate our mutual and essential relationship to the land, understanding that this is the same land that Indigenous people have cared for and stewarded for many centuries.
If we are to truly rebuild healthy communities here, they must be rooted in the land that nurtures all of us and the wisdom of the Indigenous communities who hold the heart, culture, and stories of this land we live together on now. Next week I intend to break bread with family and others and will include deep thoughts and conversation of gratitude towards the Abenaki families who tended to and traveled each season through the land my home is now on. We will honor those who stewarded the flora and fauna, and spirits that nourished and protected them. I intend to get to know them, their culture, food, and ways that kept this land abundant and healthy for centuries before we arrived. Because, the only way I can really understand another is to eat at their table, hear their stories, understand their history, and honor our differences as beautiful, wise, and perfect.
Please have a happy holiday with your family, with our farmer’s food, and join me in celebrating the land we live on, and those who came before us, and perhaps you can join me in my intention for a future where all our children sit around a table together celebrating the harvest, sharing their foods and stories in a wonder filled, loving and rich way.