Home for Thanksgiving

Every Thanksgiving is a treat for me because it’s an opportunity for me to witness how strong the sense of community is in my family. My mother is always the “head chef.” With a laundry list of tasks to complete before Thanksgiving dinner, everyone pitches in. The turkey needs to be defrosted a whole day in advance. The stuffing, ham, and yams are done the day before and only the turkey and vegetables are cooked the day of. Everyone gathers at my aunt’s home on the edge of town. This ensures enough parking spaces for everyone (and that we won’t get a noise complaint…). Then when the time comes, we gather around and have dinner together. Each of us taking a turn to say what we are most thankful for.
This Thanksgiving I am grateful to have the time to be home, even if it’s just for a few days. I’m glad to see my family and to have the time to reflect on what I am thankful for. This morning however, my mother reminded me of something else I should be mindful of during the holiday season.
We were sitting in the living room when a news update of Standing Rock came on the television. Images of activists being sprayed by water, tear gas, and who knows what else, came on the screen. My mom shook her head in disgust. “They’re trying to build over sacred land.” She said taking a drink from her cup of coffee. “That’s all they have left.” That’s the reality of Thanksgiving. While today, families like mine might take the time to celebrate the day as a day for giving thanks, many families are out fighting for their basic rights. Fighting against years of institutionalized racism and discrimination. They’re fighting for a reality that was stolen from them. Native Americans in this country are fighting (and have been fighting for centuries) against revisionist histories that ignore how horrific a holiday like Thanksgiving can be.
It is important to remember and acknowledge that Thanksgiving isn’t just about being thankful, it’s also a reminder that there is much left to do. So this Thanksgiving, as you sit down with your family, remember why you’re sitting down, and remember that many communities of color are still fighting to ensure their basic rights are protected.

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