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Teen Talk

November 30, 2013

On the Go: We need to rethink holidays' meaning

The end of November smells like comfort. Our bellies are full and our wallets are empty. 

An entire vacation is dedicated to extravagance. 

I like the ideals of Thanksgiving as well as anyone. Those picture book ideals we tend to forget shortly after grade school. We still talk the talk and preach gratitude but our actions condemn us to hypocrisy. As a society we tend to bend holidays to meet our cultural greed and consumerism. 

With Thanksgiving we take it to a whole other level. Gratitude morphs into rabid gimmes and excessive indulgence. I think we should reflect on this past Thanksgiving and plan to do better next year. 

Once upon a time on a crisp fall day a group of friends sat down to celebrate their harvest. People of different colors came together to be grateful for their abundance. In the next couple hundred years, the friends showed their love for each other by brutal murder and sabotage. Friendly dining turned into racial purging and lasting conflicts. 

As school children dress up and perform historic stories. Many Native Americans consider Thanksgiving to be a day of mourning. Picture books don’t mention that. While the glossy, romanticized version may sit better with most people of European descent it isn’t the truth and shouldn’t be portrayed as if it is.

Another bone I have to pick is its birth as a federal holiday. As the Civil War was brewing Lincoln wanted something to unite the country. Ta da! Thanksgiving. But we weren’t thanking Natives. We were thanking God. It failed to foster unity and undermines separation of church and state. A national holiday to thank God is about as secular as the 1954 addition to the Pledge. 

The tainted history of Thanksgiving lends itself to the faulty execution of the day. 

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