As we assess our own traditions it is important that we carry on only what feels in line with our values. My top value is living in Harmony with the Earth. I also highly value respecting all living creatures including human beings.
We all know that Thanksgiving is a memorial of the settlers working together with the Native Americans. However, this mutual respect did not last long. Native Americans were killed in huge numbers. They were forced off of the land that was their home. They were put on reservations where traditional lifestyles of hunting and gathering could not be lived. Forced to live on reservations, the tribes which had migrated seasonally were not able to do so. Native Americans were also forced (often physically) to stop speaking their native languages and were forced to give up their own spiritual practices and adopt others.
This is nothing that I want to celebrate. This loss is a loss for all of us. Tribal societies that lived in relative Harmony with the Earth offer humanity a vital link back to tradtions that can help us all strengthen our bond with the Earth. When peoples are forced or shamed into giving up these traditions we all loose one more link to traditional lifestyles, medicinal knowledge, wild food knowledge, and climate knowledge.
My family has stopped celebrating Thanksgiving, because I cannot pretend that it is not a celebration of dominance. However, this is sad for me. I love the food. I love the beauitful table. I love looking down the beautiful table with the abundant food and seeing the faces of my family members smiling with anticipation.
So I offer another alternative.
Most cultures celebrate a Harvest Festival. After the work of the Summer and Autumn is behind us; after we have breathed out and relaxed a bit; once the chill of late Autumn is upon us, we look in our pantry, we feel the warmth of our home, and we rejoice that we have enough food to make it through the winter.
A Havest Festival celebrates seasonal food. It celebrates abundance. It is a time to give thanks. And we have much to be thankful for. Family. Food. Warmth. Security.
So rejoice. Be glad. Celebrate with the food the farmers around you grew. Celebrate with something from your own garden. Give thanks and show gratitude. And respect.