Here’s the deal: I generally don’t like to subscribe to holidays. Aside from my lack of association with deity and religion, I don’t usually appreciate the corporate-driven materialism that is reflective of the holiday season.

It goes something like this: If you really love that person, you will buy them this thing. And if you really really love that person, you will buy them many things.

And the idea that is being sold is: Their worth (and your worth) is somehow related to what you buy… further implication being: If you don’t buy what we are selling then __(fill in the blank with something inherently undesirable).

That’s one of my fundamental issues. Because, of course, our worth is not determined by the things we purchase. Your worth is far greater than any label with which you cater.

The other reason I don’t like to partake in many holidays in a traditional sense is because I take issue with the historical event the holiday is based on.

We should all be aware of, acknowledge, and pay respect to the respective origins of a holiday – especially if we celebrate it. To blindly follow along with, without question, a tradition in any sense, is a mistake.

Most of us are (hopefully) aware at this point in our lives, that almost four hundred years ago, around this time, John Winthrop declared it a day of thanks-giving to celebrate the colonial soldiers who had successfully slaughtered 700 Pequot men, women, and children in, what I define as, a deplorable display of arrogant greed. Thus, we have Thanksgiving… or more appropriately Genocidal Land Theft Day. Even generations after this, following the establishment of Plymouth, English colonists had a destructive relationship with the Wampanoag. So to me, the history of this holiday is colored in a way that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I don’t mention this in an attempt to instigate, provoke, or point anyone in an unhelpful direction. I don’t encourage you to refer to it as Genocidal Land Theft Day on a regular basis to other humans or that you teach young children about the historical genocide that occurred.

I bring this up because I think incomplete representations of historical events are a mistake and can devalue and/or stereotype groups of humans. I bring this up to open up conversation and remind people about what really happened. I bring this up not only to pay respect to the largely under-respected, under-represented, and marginalized indigenous people who were massacred (time and again) but also, to pay respect to the under-respected, under-represented, and marginalized non-indigenous people who have been maltreated throughout history and now. I bring this up as a reminder of where we were at historically and the confusion of values so we can be better knowing what we know now.

I’m not suggesting that we forego giving “thanks”, reciting our gratitudes, or reminding one another about all of the wonderful aspects in our lives. In fact, we should be doing that more. For now, I am simply asking everyone to be mindful of history and pay respect through acknowledgement.

I have my own issues with the needless ritualistic turkey massacre that occurs every year on this day (45 million to be exact), in addition to the gluttonous theme of the holiday, but I will keep it short this year. I would love to see a time when we redirect our focus from obsolete or inappropriate traditions, to life-affirming, value representative, love-inducing rituals. As we grow and evolve as humans, so do our values, and so should our rituals. If we know better, we should do better.  

With that being said, take a moment to appreciate and send love to those not only those closest to you, but also those who may be unrepresented. Take a moment to really, deeply feel grateful for all that you have and all that you are. Take a moment to appreciate the small things. Now and every other day, remind yourself that Life is Good, Things are Interesting, and People Love You.

~ Penelopea Schroeder

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