Dear David. Turkey Week Edition, 2020.

Dear David,

This used to my favorite week of the year – Thanksgiving week. Shortened school/work week, good food, no worries about gifting, the “bonus” of Friday off and more. It wasn’t so much my specific (lack of) family traditions as the idea of having so much freedom, so much indulgence, and so little knowledge about actual Thanksgiving events. Blind ignorance, as they say.

Of course, there were the years I worked retail and that was not so much fun. But those are drudgeries we all put under our belt to appreciate the down time, right?

Laura and I used to have a few holiday traditions – we had our own “Thanksgiving eve” dinner, typically some local Asian-American restaurant. We had blueberry muffins on Thanksgiving morning. And then we ceded the rest of the day to the family before reconnoitering in the evening to watch tv together and just digest. On Friday, we would go to Eat’n Park for a very late breakfast and then do nothing. Ledcat doesn’t do nothing very often.

A few years ago, I had the chance to get to know a local woman from the Seneca Nation and her husband who was part of the Cherokee Nation. They are local to Pittsburgh. In the fall, Laura and I went to a workshop they led and it opened my eyes in a new way to the parts of Thanksgiving I wasn’t so much denying as ignoring.

So that year I set out to educate myself. I read, watched documentaries, and followed Native and Indigenous media sources. It was fascinating and brutal, but necessary. Moving forward, I resolved to amplify Native and Indigenous voices in my social media shares and to write from a more informed perspective. In so doing, I’ve steadily grown my understanding of the truth and consequences behind the Thanksgiving myths. I’ve also watched with almost morbid fascination how the holiday morphed into this weird family traditions that reflect contemporary culture pretty well – consumerism, alcohol, disproportionate food resources, this odd fetish with insisting employers give employers Turkey Day off instead of working for workers rights or acknowledging the many, many people who have always worked this holiday forever.

OK, I’m rambling. I’m not at some sort of finish line with my attempts to educate myself, but I do shame my heads at people who don’t connect the dots of the actual history of Thanksgiving with the contemporary experience. Eating a big meal with family and watching football is simply no longer a benign activity. It is an act of public health warfare.

So our plans are modest. We pre-ordered dinner from Bistro-to-Go. We ordered some muffins, too. We are going to watch the modern parade and Miracle of 34th Street. We don’t plan to have contact with any humans for the whole weekend.

One thing that’s different this year is that I will genuinely offer thanksgiving for our good health and privileges. I will also continue to fight like hell for those not-so-fortunate.

But I will also enjoy my turkey-stuffing-mashed potato-gravy.

I hope you and your lovely wife have a good day.

Take care,

Sue

 

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