Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., another of those complex holidays with dubious histories rooted firmly in settler imagination. The day is frigid, a deep snow pack and north wind adding to the pervasive chill. There are rabbit tracks near the house and the occasional determined bird flies by the window. The early winter sun is bright, if weak, and has very little influence on the cold; the north wind picks up loose snow and drives it along in streams of icy white.
Our family is far-flung. Those who live close and are able to gather are working away in the kitchen, or sit plugged in to their various devices in the sitting room; here inside the house, warmth abounds.
I find this a strange holiday as we give thanks for bounty of the harvest and our families against the background of genocide. Looking back into childhood, it seems to me that Thanksgiving was always unsettled in our house growing up. There were inevitably tensions between the life experiences of family who identified as settler and those who identified as Native, a perceptual gulf that was seemingly unbridgaeble.
The most virulently racist members of the family seldom joined us for Thanksgiving; the one major exception to this remains vivid in my memory. I guess that challenging Thanksgiving in the mid-sixties was not all that different from the charged atmosphere in our country today. Back then, as now, civility helped, even as one knew that it would eventually break down in a torrent of hate speech and hurt feelings.
Maybe all this adds to my appreciation of the kindness and warmth that fills the house today. Once again there are people here who Identify as settler and those who Identify as Native. Fortunately, the similarities are held more closely than the differences, and most of the opinions and experiences shared are presented with a certain care and thoughtfulness. I like to think that here, for today, kindness rules.
I hope that wherever you are, and whatever you may be doing today, you find yourself embraced by gratitude, family, and the presence of community and kindness.