27 November 2019

Thanksgiving Eve People

Yesterday afternoon (which is technically Thanksgiving Eve Eve), I had delivered something to another person at work and as I was leaving their office, I said, "I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving."  Because I knew it was unlikely that I would see that person today.  And her response was, "HOW can you tell me to celebrate a holiday that is all about the oppression of Native Americans and celebrates gluttony?"

Look.  I get it, I really do.  There are lots of problems with American history, white privilege, and oppression and exploitation of non-white peoples.  And I am also aware that the first Thanksgiving was not two groups of people joining together to sing "Kumbaya" and say that everything was perfect.  (OK, I especially hope they didn't sing "Kumbaya," but you know what I mean.)

I do want the world to be better.  I even try to do what I can to make it so, and I wholeheartedly support those who make it their lives' work to fight for justice.

But I also love Thanksgiving, and what it means in the most general sense.  Yes, I know we should all be thankful every day, and I do try to do that.  But I love that we have a national holiday devoted to that.  It's the coziest of holidays, if you ask me, and I know that for some this holiday - or any holiday really - is fraught with stress and/or unhappiness, and that makes me sad.  I am however not directly responsible for what others experience or feel on or about the holiday.  I can only live my life with  my truth.

And all of that was my long-winded and ranty way of getting to the topic of the people I interacted with on my way to work on this Thanksgiving Eve (btw, I hope you also enjoy today,Kym, since I know you also "celebrate" Thanksgiving Eve).

First up was a woman and her dog that I see on occasion when I am leaving for work.  She appears to be a lovely young woman, and her dog looks like a mini-Golden Retriever.  We always stop and say hello-and-how-are-you to each other, and of course I make a fuss over the dog.  We had a lovely, if brief conversation, and she was looking forward to going to her parents' house tomorrow (with the dog) and enjoying the meal, even though she is disappointed that she has to work on Friday.

A few blocks away, I met a young guy with a black Labradoodle puppy (9 weeks old!) named Monty.  As you can imagine, Monty was ADORABLE, and very kissy.  The guy said he was a puppy who was "simultaneously cute and a demon," which made me laugh. 

The I decided to stop and treat myself to a cup of tea at a place on the way.  The young man who took my order said "Have a wonderful Thanksgiving," as he handed me my change, he also smiled.  While I was waiting for my order, a guy moved in front of me to get a napkin.  He had on a sweater with a really beautiful yoke design.  I complimented him on the sweater, and he pointed to a woman nearby and said, "Thanks - but you should really compliment her, she knitted it.  She also made me this hat," and the three of us proceeded to have a very pleasant conversation about knitting and knitting for those who appreciate it.  (The sweater was this pattern, for those wondering.)

This was a really nice way to start a morning, any morning, but especially this one, after my last interaction of the day yesterday was with someone who gave me a lecture. 

And you know what?  These are some of the things I am thankful for - the actual kindess of strangers.  People usually think that cities are just a bunch of nameless people ignoring each other, or worse, doing/saying terrible things and not caring.  And trust me, people in Philadelphia do not suffer fools gladly (maybe that's why I like living here)!  But it occurred to me that overall, I have more interactions like those this morning than negative ones.  As a matter of fact, a lot of the negative interactions occur more with people I actually know.

So on this Thanksgiving Eve, I find myself being happy that people I do not know, some of whom I am likely to never see again, were able to be kind.  I am happy that they reminded me that each of us is doing the best we can to get through life, and that it doesn't have to be perfect to be OK. 

I hope your day goes as well.  :-)


AsKatKnits said...

Oh my... I get this, so much. I do love Thanksgiving but in its simplest meaning - purposefully finding things to be thankful for.

I hope you and Tim have a wonderful day! XO

Kym said...

First, I must tell you that I thought about you just last night - on Thanksgiving Eve Eve - as I was organizing my recipes and finalizing my "plan of attack" for the next couple of days. I knew you'd be thinking about it being Thanksiving Eve Eve, too, which made me enormously happy! XO

Next, thank you for this post, Bridget. I, too, struggle with the Thanksgiving backstory, and I'm glad we talk about it now (in a way we never did when I was growing up). But when I celebrate Thanksgiving, I celebrate sharing love and gratitude and a meal with my family in the coziest of holidays. It may represent ugly parts of our story as a nation -- but I think it also symbolizes gratitude, love, and kindness . . . if we let it. Happy Thanksgiving, Bridget.

Araignee said...

I had to laugh because yesterday Twitter had a thing going called What Liberals Call Thanksgiving. It was hilarious reading the comments which were all tongue in cheek after Fox News carried a story about how Democrats want to re-name the holiday to reflect the Native American origin. I laughed all day at the funny memes people came up with.
This liberal still calls it Thanksgiving so have a happy Thanksgiving Eve aka Clean The House, Shop and Then Cook All Day Day.

Kim in Oregon said...

Thank you for posting this. I see Thanksgiving as a time to reflect on everything I am thankful for that I'm too busy to reflect on during the rest of the year. It sets a tone that puts the rest of the holiday craziness into perspective.

In Oregon now, many public events (graduation, the opening night of the symphony, just to name a few) begin with the recognition that the event is taking place on what was what native lands to recognize the many tribes that still exist in Oregon. I appreciate this kind of continuous recognition of the role of the native people in our history. It doesn't make up for the horrors of the first Thanksgiving, but it brings a sense of gratitude to our daily lives.

Wanderingcatstudio said...

I have friends like your coworker, and honestly, their outrage at absolutely everything is so draining. They seem to live their life in constant negativity... I just don't get it.

We all know the myth of Thanksgiving... but modern day Thanksgiving has morphed way beyond that. It's not at all about celebrating the oppression of the indigenous people. Just as Hallowe'en, Christmas, and Easter have changed. I'm an atheist, so should I be celebrating Christmas? Not at all if you take it as the original Christians intended. But I celebrate the joy of giving things to my family and friend I know they will cherish. I celebrate taking the time to have light and food in the middle of a bleak winter.

If you want to bring awareness to the plight of natives - go for it, but in such a miserable, Debbie Downer way...? People just start to tune you out.

I for one, hope you have a fabulous Thanksgiving, and enjoy it for all it means to you.

Shirley said...

Well, I absolutely love fall and that Thanksgiving is in the fall only makes it better. For me, Thanksgiving is family and appreciation for all that I enjoy (and often take for granted). What pleasant encounters you had on your way to work. Just delightful. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

karen said...

Most people I bump into are nice, I live in the country and I like how when I chat with someone who is a stranger ends up being connected to someone I know. Of course, I am considered a transplant since I moved here in 1994. I'll never be considered native but that's okay, I'm friends with most of the other transplants who have been here since the 90's as well.

Lilly's Mom said...

I love your kindness, Bridget! Wishing you and Tim a blessed Thanksgiving! ๐Ÿงก๐Ÿฆƒ๐Ÿ๐Ÿฆƒ๐Ÿงก