Of all the holidays that I don’t like Thanksgiving has got to be one of my least favorites. This year I’m grateful that my least favorite holiday overlaps with my favorite- Channukah. Now when everyone is happy and wishing each other a happy holiday I can join in all the fun, plus I get to do it for eight days so that’s nifty.
When it comes down to it I’m a traditionalist. I like like ceremony and repetition and ties to my history and so while I’m a firm agnostic you can still find me singing hymns and lighting menorahs and doing all the other stuff that my religiously polyglot family has been doing for centuries. My issue with Thanksgiving is that all of its traditions seem to come back to the same place- the fact that we committed genocide and then turned the start of this genocide into a lovely myth about how self-reliant and hardy and inherently good our ancestors were.
Maybe I’m cynical horrible person who takes joy in being miserable but I’m also not a fan of current attempts to focus Thanksgiving away from whitewashing our national history towards a day that we focus on being grateful for the blessings in our life. Rather than actually addressing the blood that our flag covers we’d rather direct our attention to nice things that don’t make us think of the violence our nation sits up. I’m all for a holiday when we share our love and count our blessings and give thanks to those that bring us joy but I’d rather not have that holiday come at the expense of forgetting about, you know, fucking genocide. If we’re going to have a holiday to give thanks let’s pick a day that doesn’t erase our blood soaked history (I’d like to put forward January 25th as a nice option.)
Let’s burn down “Native American” holiday decorations. Let’s yell at people who try to use today to propagate a history that makes white cishet landowning men look good. Let’s actively try to make today a day of solemn remembrance.
But I realize that this isn’t something that’s going to happen over night. I’m still going to sit down tonight and eat turkey because I do it for a family that loves me. I’m going to practice self-care and try to avoid getting myself into situations that could ruin the holiday for others sitting around my table.
What I will do is politely speak up and remember that I have 364 other days to be rude and angry about Thanksgiving because these are the compromises we make for our immediate loved ones. And I’m going to regularly look at the menorah and take strength from the three lights I’ll see glowing at the dark window.
So I wish you a Happy Channukah with a reminder to remember our dark history that America so happily tries to forget.