We find ourselves at the beginning of the Thanksgiving season which will immediately give way to the Christmas season and then New Year’s.
But first things first!
We hear the story in elementary school. The dramatic crossing of the Atlantic in the Mayflower, the harsh winter, the priceless assistance of Squanto, and the laying of the foundation of American culture.
These days there's another push on this cultural iconography. People are vowing to confront their families about political matters, especially that "crazy conservative uncle." Pair this up with the insistence that the previously mentioned cultural iconography is just a ploy to cover up the evils of colonialism and the evil oppression that the Pilgrims laid over the Indians.
So let me start my commentary with a friendly reminder. About 600 Miles to the South, some 13 years earlier, the first permanent settlement was established at Jamestown. The Pilgrims were just following the lead of the pioneers. So while the northern story is thee we are taught, your American heritage is Southern. And while terrible things were done to the native population, the Powhatans and Wampanoags were not the first people in these areas. The historic record shows a long history of one "native" group brutally seizing the territory and riches of other "native" groups.
That all being said, step away from the politics, the rhetoric, the narrative, and the talking points. Politicizing Thanksgiving is a mistake. It's crude, it's foul, and it's uncalled for. It reflects a substantial lack of hometraining and your parents deserve better.
So what should you do? Ask your grandmother how she met your grandfather. I'm thankful that I asked mine that question before they were both gone. Ask your older relatives about their childhoods and growing up. Take notes. Learn where you came from. Get that crazy uncle to show you how to shoot a rifle. Be grateful that you aren't trying to survive an Atlantic crossing or those first frigid winters that the settlers faced in 1607 Virginia and 1620 Massachusetts. Be thankful these settlements worked and your life is better for it.Be thankful you have a family to spend the holiday with. Focus on gratitude, thankfulness, and contentment. Simplify your thought processes so you don't miss the obvious things.
If you simply must talk politics this Thanksgiving, plan to agree that there's too much power over our lives concentrated in mega corporations and in Washington. Vow to personally act to change that.
But mostly just eat and shoot guns.
Happy Thanksgiving from All the Biscuits in Georgia.
11/21/2018 08:16:45 pm
Nice essay, Sam. I thank you.
11/23/2018 10:09:17 am
Haha! The legendary three Burnham brothers are deeply ingrained in our family lore but the truth is there’s a dispute about our line and wether we’re from one of them or not. You know me, it’s gotta be complicated. :)
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Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire