When I was younger, I thought the holidays were the most annoying part of the year. I dreaded Thanksgiving and Christmas like I dreaded a fast approaching bed time (even though I’m pretty sure my mother was speeding up the hour hand). When I was in an elementary school, Thanksgiving was all about making turkeys & pilgrim hats out of construction paper, and singing cheesy off cue songs about being friendly to our “fellow man.” I continuously heard ridiculous stories about Native Americans being called “Indians”, the Pilgrims trying to teach the “Indians” how to be “civilized”, and that the “Indians” felt sorry for the Pilgrims because they didn’t know about agriculture and gardening. I was humiliated through Nativity plays where I disgraced the Native American population with paint markings on my face, a feather in my hair, and speaking as if the Native Americas never developed any motor skills. OMG! It was BEYOND AWFUL! I thought Squanto was the poster child for the whole “Indian” race. I don’t even want to reveal how I thought he got his name…(did I mention that I was 8?) When someone asked me “Imani, what are you thankful for?”, I would usually reply that I was thankful for all my toys, my television, my friends, and getting to stay up later to watch all the holiday t.v. specials that came on Friday and Saturday nights. I thought Thanksgiving was about getting my family together to eventually stuff our faces, and actually talk about other family member in a negative light. Not quite the stories I had heard sitting on that “magical carpet” just last Friday.
When I think of Thanksgiving now, I think the name should be changed to “Giving Thanks Day.” If I didn’t know Thanksgiving was a holiday, I would think someone was talking too quickly and just jumbled their words together. While the holiday presents a blurred image of what really happened on that auspicious day, the message is still clear: coming together and being thankful for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon our path. “Giving Thanks Day” should be a day of servicing a community, helping a homeless shelter, visiting a senior citizen home, and of course having a dinner with close loved ones and friends. While the activities mentioned should be done not just on “Giving Thanks Day” or any other holiday, it should advertised and promoted on t.v. and in the schools. On “Giving Thanks Day,” I’m thankful for the strong health of my relatives young and old, my friends who stand by me through thick and thin, for my career, and most of all, my spiritual healing. My spiritual growth in finding out my purpose on this earth. I’m thankful that I never try to miss an opportunity to make someone laugh, or smile, just have a good time. I think history is an essential party of any holiday. Here I some facts and myths about Thanksgiving (if you still want to call it that) that I think are imperative for growth and persepctive of how we see and interact with new cultures and races. Hope the truth isn’t too eye opening, and do have a VERY HAPPY GIVING THANKS DAY!
MYTH: Thanksgiving started when the Pilgrims and Native Ameircans, actually called the Wompanog tribe, ate together in 1621.
FACT: It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.
MYTH: The pilgrims were kind, open, and helpful people that welcomed the Indians.
FACT: The pilgrims were an orthodox religious group who left England to practice their own beliefs. They were judgemental, critical, overbearing, and cautious of the Indians, if not ready to shoot first and ask questions later.
Fact or Fiction: Turkey contains an amino acid that makes you sleepy.
Fact. Turkey does contain the essential amino acid tryptophan, which is a natural sedative, but so do a lot of other foods, including chicken, beef, pork, beans and cheese. Though many people believe turkey’s tryptophan content is what makes many people feel sleepy after a big Thanksgiving meal, it is more likely the combination of fats and carbohydrates most people eat with the turkey, as well as the large amount of food (not to mention alcohol, in some cases) consumed, that makes most people feel like following their meal up with a nap.