Happy Thanksgiving, friends.
This afternoon, waiting for dough to rise, for my mood to find some even keel, I think my tweezing thoughts and I have teased out a piece of the tangle of feelings I have around this holiday.
There are the obvious threads, clear to anyone with a stack of history books slightly less subject to whitewashing; people are less surprised as time goes on when my weepy drunk voice arcs out the spitting phrase–
our nation was founded on genocide– but perhaps because I find myself in better rooms, or the people in them know me better.
There is, as always, the sticky sweet grip of capitalism, with its taking hand, with its great discarding arms.
There is, as always, the rats’ nest of families.
For those who know me a little better have heard the stories of my childhood: sleeping in a tipi beside a fire, burning sage twirling up my nose. Voices in the dark of a sweat lodge we had built that day. The day I learned to make fire with two sticks, the glass bead necklace I still wear. My mother weeping behind a rattle. My father’s eyes flashing angry under his Oklahoma hat-brim. There are no Native peoples connected to my family tree, as far as I know, but I was too young to know how to draw the lines between cultural appropriation and shared positive experiences that were so clearly important to the adults, mostly European-American, upstate New York hippies, around me. I may still be too young to know. These are the fondest memories of my childhood, stories by the fire, chants across the Long Island Sound.
Today, however, a slight reframing in my head. Part of why this holiday makes me so emotional is the intense and necessary hope that something that emerged out of genocide, trailing a long history of oppression, falsehood, and monstrous capitalism, can somehow over time become an opportunity for genuine gratitude, for building community, for celebrating the love and the gifts that we receive and that we are given. That getting really drunk with your friends over a table of food, helping each other through the things that are hard and sharing the joy of the things that are beautiful, that this is something of great value even when darkened by all our bloody history. This is not just something I feel about Thanksgiving, but something I feel about America herself. The hope that something born of blood can one day be a place of kindness.