My perception of Thanksgiving


Breanna Rexwinkle, Staff Reporter

When hearing the word “Thanksgiving,” the first thing most people think about is a few days off of school, eating tons of food, and Christmas around the corner. That may sound correct, but originally, Thanksgiving was a small gathering of newly-settled Pilgrims and helpful natives. Unfortunately, in the years to come, the Native Americans were left out of this celebration completely.

I celebrate Thanksgiving with the idea in my heart that history is history, and the true idea of this celebration still stands even being identified as a Native American. Although I was not directly impacted by this discrimination, it is still heartbreaking to know that my ancestors were in the past. But personally, I love the true idea behind Thanksgiving: gathering together for a good purpose, teaching generations of its true significance, and reflecting on our own gratitude. My only concern with how it has been celebrated for years is that it is based around the past’s “colonial victory” over Native Americans. This has caused Thanksgiving to be centered all around their past customs rather than all customs unified.

This tends to happen with most celebrations that Americans continue to follow, but considering it is not the 1600s anymore, I think most people have the right sentiment behind it. If someone’s ancestor was on the Mayflower, then who am I to tell them how to celebrate their own history? I just think it is extremely important to recognize that Native Americans are a big reason this celebration even exists. Times were very tough back then, and it is almost certain that the Pilgrims would not have survived their first winter without originally consorting with the natives.

With that in mind, it is a good idea to recognize the Native American contribution when celebrating Thanksgiving just as you would recognize more than one group of people for any holiday. The past is built upon many different individual cultures. We just do not seem to get the full story in our history books. Since I was not there for the first Thanksgiving, I do not have all the answers to the history of it, but it would do no wrong to research and decide one’s own purpose for celebrating it. We should all find one day of the year to simply give thanks whatever that may mean to you. That is what Thanksgiving is about in a nutshell, right?

Today, I think we can finally move past the heartbreak and loss of the past. I think anybody can. This includes almost all the things we as a country celebrate if it is dug into deeper. Some people say that Thanksgiving is only about consumerism, “whitewashing” history, or the traumatic loss of men, women and children of the Pequot Tribal Nation. While we should always respect the innocent lives of those people, we can also celebrate their successes and appreciate their legacies. There is no need to hold history’s racism over our shoulders anymore. Most holidays may have a dark past, but that does not mean you have to center it around that past. Simply find your own purpose. Do not lose the true meaning of Thanksgiving to a poor history filled by what were simply bad people. The overall meaning is to appreciate family and be thankful for what you have today, not the historical value of it.

So this year, let us all give thanks to the Native Americans who were just as big a part of this celebration as the Pilgrims. Also, reflect on the differences our country has overcome since then. It really is a great thing that today things are more unified, and people are more understanding. In reality, we are each other’s family. I absolutely do not think Thanksgiving should cease to be celebrated. I think it can still have a great unifying force behind it. It is a personal choice as to which way you would prefer to celebrate it as long as the union of different peoples and cultures can bring light to how the holiday is perceived today while also reminding us to appreciate what we have.