A day or so before this Thanksgiving, one of my Facebook friends posted about how hard this time of year can be for some of us. While some may have loving families where getting together feels special and maybe even like a reunion, there are those of us who cannot say the same and we are not that excited about going into the holiday season via Thanksgiving Day. For us, it is a time and an event that seems to bring out some of the most challenging thoughts and situations of our lives.
Nevertheless, Thanksgiving is one of those holiday gatherings that my family really gets into. Like many others, they see it as a neutral opportunity to “give thanks.” They do not associate it with the tyranny of white supremacist power over native peoples for purposes of national conquest. I find that odd – that they pretty much ignore it – since my family (at least on one side, and maybe in fact on both) has Native American heritage, which was visible in the physical attributes of my grandmother, especially when she braided her long black hair in two long links (what some call “ponytails”) to hang down her chest. That we do not even mention or commemorate the loss of our peoples and our connection to their stories is kind of sad to me. But we are not unusual, many approach the Thanksgiving holiday without a thought or a tear of the Great Genocide that was unleashed on this continent beginning five centuries ago. On Thanksgiving Day most act as if it never even happened.
When you go through life acting as if terrible things never happened, it creates problems, dare I say delusions about life. For example, when we do it with regard to our national narrative it promotes the idea of American exceptionalism, reinforcing thinking that the U.S.A. is the greatest country on the Earth. When we do it with regard to our personal lives, when we ignore the terrible and perhaps unthinkable interactions and events that have happened to us individually with the people we love, the people we know or think we know, and, of course, with perfect strangers, we tend to promote narratives (often based in religiosities and spiritual cosmologies) that ignore the reality of pain and dysfunction. We walk around and act as if everything is okay, even perfect, when nothing could be further from the truth. And when that is happening, we are sick and in need of legitimate and rational truths that have the power to bring healing.
This Thanksgiving, I made it through a visit with my family without incident, which was very different from last year. Of course, I was very pleased to spend a peaceful afternoon with my folks, but that doesn’t mean that it is still not the hardest time of the year. It is a good thing that truth still has the power to set us free. *Sigh*
© 2013 annalise fonza, Ph.D.