All That We Have to Be Thankful for

As I prepare for this Thanksgiving holiday, I am reminded of the spiritual significance of this autumnal harvest time.

As a time of spiritual connection, I pause to acknowledge what I have to be thankful for. And in so doing, I make each day of my life a holiday of thanksgiving by living in a space of thankfulness.

Living in a space of thankfulness is an act to be cultivated and practiced not just during this time of year, but all through the year. When you live in a space of thankfulness, you start to give thanks for the simple abundance in your life that you take for granted. You begin to share your sense of abundance with others in new ways, and it becomes an opportunity to count your blessings.

Also, living in a space of thankfulness you begin to notice and appreciate the simple things in your life. For me, it’s enjoying the autumn foliage and weather as well as delighting in eating all my favorite foods.

Living in a space of thankfulness, you know that life is not always fun, but it is always a gift. And as a gift, life is a journey of continuous lessons in how you can choose to become the person you are capable of being, which in turn makes us thankful for life itself — the good as well as the bad.

For many of us this time of year, it’s not easy living in a space of thankfulness. And in the face of remembered and continued adversity and bigotry, living in a space of thankfulness is a chosen attitude of courage.

But I also reflect on this holiday as a time of remembrance — historical and familial. For many of us this time of year, it’s not easy living in a space of thankfulness. And in the face of remembered and continued adversity and bigotry, living in a space of thankfulness is a chosen attitude of courage.

For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, homophobia will be the reason many of us will not be sitting around the table with our families this holiday, but our thankfulness will be shown with our extended families and friends.

For the survivors of hurricanes Katrina and Rita who lost their homes and will not be gathering around their familial tables this holiday, our remembrance of their ordeal and our thankfulness for their strength will be in welcoming them around our tables.

And for Native Americans, especially the Wampanoag nation of New England whose name means “people of the dawn,” this national holiday is a reminder of their unwavering courage to make us all remember the real significance of the First Thanksgiving in 1621 as a symbol of persecution of Native Americans and their long history of bloodshed with European settlers.

The Pilgrims, who sought refuge here in America from religious persecution in their homeland, were right in their dogged pursuit for religious liberty. But their actual practice of religious liberty came at the expense of the civil rights of Native Americans.

Because the Pilgrims’ fervor for religious liberty was devoid of an ethic of accountability, their actions did not set up the conditions requisite for moral liability and legal justice. Instead, the actions of the Pilgrims brought about the genocide of a people, a historical amnesia of the event, and an annual national celebration of Thanksgiving for their arrival.

In the spirit of our connected struggles against discrimination, let us remember to respect and mourn the Native forefathers and foremothers who died for their people’s liberation, because it is a much better way to show our spirit of thanks on this holiday.

“Since 1970, Native Americans have gathered at noon on Cole’s Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of mourning on the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. Many Native Americans do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers. To them, Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of their people, the theft of their lands, and the relentless assault on their culture. Participants in a National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native people to survive today. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience,” reads the text of the plaque on Cole’s Hill that overlooks Plymouth Rock, the mythic symbol of where the Pilgrims first landed.

The United American Indians of New England (UAINE), a Native-led organization of Native people supporting Indigenous struggles in New England and throughout the Americas, as well as the struggles of communities of color and LGBTQ communities, understand the interconnections of struggles.

In the spirit of our connected struggles against discrimination, let us remember to respect and mourn the Native forefathers and foremothers who died for their people’s liberation, because it is a much better way to show our spirit of thanks on this holiday.

And in so doing, it helps us to remember, respect, mourn and give thanks to the struggles our LGBTQ foremothers and foremothers endured.

It is in the spirit of our connected struggles against discrimination in this country that we can all stand on a solid rock that rests on a multicultural foundation for a true and honest thanksgiving.

For more information about The United American Indians of New England and the 36th National Day of Mourning, click here.

Comments are closed.