Thanksgiving has always been a complicated holiday. For me, Thanksgiving has been a day of food and family and football. There is a way I can relax and get to practice gratitude with my extended family in a way I don’t get to do most other times of the year. And I love that. The experience of joy and connection has usually overridden my inclinations to try to incorporate the complicated politics behind the holiday. Like so many of our stories and histories, the popular myth of Native people welcoming and supporting European settlers is a “feel-good narrative that rationalizes and justifies the uninvited settlement of a foreign people by painting a picture of an organic friendship. A more accurate telling of the story, however, describes the forming of political alliances built on a mutual need for survival and an Indigenous struggle for power in the vacuum left by a destructive century of foreign settlement.”
Ug. Particularly after going to Standing Rock and in the context of our presidential election, I want to find a way to engage the messiness better than I have in previous years. And, I will make sure to offer gratitude and enjoy my family. This Thanksgiving “messiness” really represents the messiness of our American lives, period. Thanksgiving is just another struggle to find joy and gratitude even as we acknowledge the violence upon which our current realities are founded. And I am not going to give up on joy and gratitude, for lord knows we are going to need it more than ever. Lord knows we need each other more than ever.
If you want support in navigating Thanksgiving tomorrow, Showing Up For Racial Justice has both a hotline and guide to help you.
UU minister and executive director of the Public Conversations Project, Parisa Parsa, offers a great guide for meaningful, real conversation here, suggesting that our “holiday sojourns give us a critical moment to see if we can stitch together a better understanding of just what in the world is going on. A chance to risk seeing and understanding our kin in greater dimensions, and sharing more of ourselves than we normally would.”
And regardless of what you do or do not say tomorrow, however you do or do not feel, know this: you are loved, you are so VERY, VERY LOVED. And I am so grateful to be in this time with you all.
This Sunday, Sharon Aproika, Leroy Egenberger, and Sabine Klein will lead worship: Creating and Sustaining the Beloved Community— What are the basic elements of the
Beloved Community? How do we, in our UU congregations go about doing that?