Thursday, November 25, 2010

The real Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in the US was started in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln. The holiday is a wonderful reason to overeat and spend some time chillaxing with family and friends. It's a great day to let others know how thankful you are unless you are a turkey. I like this holiday though I do call it birdday- happy Birdday!

however- you knew there'd be a however, didn't you? I really don't like the lies we perpetuate as teachers about this holiday. We tell kids that the pilgrims landed at plymouth rock and moved in with the help from the native Americans and everything was honkydorey. We tell people that the Indians eagerly helped them settle and the only sad thing is that a settlers died because they got cold in the winter. The indians kindly showed the pilgrims how to plant corn and squash and beans with a fish, and introduced them to living in America.

Then, when harvest time came, the settlers decided to have a party- like they probably did every harvest. Supposedly, they decided to invite their new friends to join them. Every body brought turkey and pumpkin pie and had a grand ol time.

The truth? They weren't all fine and dandy. the weren't sweet to each other. It was very difficult for strangers with very different customs to like each other. One native did help the settlers plant the veggies they had never known about. They also, I believe, learned how to plant tobbacco. The party? the natives were most likely not invited. The heard a rukus and came over to see if the settlers were gonna start a fight. The settlers decided that since they were there, they might as well eat with them. The Indians went out and got more food (like a deer) to eat. There was no turkey. The pumpkin wasn't in pie shape.

We should be able to honestly teach this to our kids. We should be able to talk about how two different groups of people with vastly different lifestyles, views, and religions had a hard time seeing each other as equals- especially when they did not speak the same language. We should be able to talk about how some situations were handled poorly with fighting and bickering and mistrust.

We should also be able to talk about how some people in each group were kind and respectful. That they took time to try to understand the others' points of view. How at some point, they did (kind of) see eye to eye. How they did sit at the same table without killing each other (like some of you might feel when you go to a relatives for the holidays). How we are still making steps everyday to see our fellow man as equal and valued and deserving respect no matter what religion, race, creed, or orientation. ( For this, I am thankful)


Debra She Who Seeks said...

You're right -- the spirit of Thanksgiving is wonderful, but the facts are more ambivalent. But nevertheless, happy thanksgiving to you!

Lyn said...

We don't have Thanksgiving here (we save all the turkeys for Christmas) so I never really knew the 'real' thanksgiving. I love the sentiment of giving thanks though - have a good one K!

Her Mom said...

I agree - we should teach the way it really was, not the way it is in our fantasies. Whatever the history, it is good to have a day to give thanks, for each of us to think about what we have that we are thankful for; how much we have to be thankful for.

SuziCate said...

History should be taught mush of that has gone to the wayside. At any rate, we do have much to be thankful for. We certainly have it much easier than the pilgrims or the Indians.

LisaF said...

Very true. The Pilgrims probably would have starved to death that winter if it wasn't for the Native which they were probably very thankful!