Thanksgiving, changing convention

It’s been a quite week here at the Houston Today office.

I spent Thanksgiving like most people, stuffing myself into a food coma, and doing upright abdominal crunches at the seat of my office chair.

Since the holiday, I have been thinking about a conversation I had with a friend of mine from Victoria. She brought to my attention the historical mistreatment between Europeans and First Nations this holiday is tied to. And said that in the last year her and her husband have been consciously repurposing the holiday when they celebrate it.

The difference being a conscious awareness to remind oneself that the reason why we get this long weekend, where students get a break from classes, teachers and all employed persons get financially compensated for the statutory holiday, is because of the mistreatment of indigenous people in North America. I had a really hard time understanding this. Mostly because like the evolving syntax of language, the etymology of a word and the reasons for celebrating a holiday change with the times and the groups of people involved.

As I did some research, I began to understand the importance of taking a moment during Thanksgiving to account for the myriad of contingencies that allow for its celebration.

According to an article published on Oct. 5, 2017 by Maclean’s, Christine Sismondo depicts the complicated history of Canadian Thanksgiving.

From the confusion and controversy of different celebration dates between Canada and the United States, expressing gratitude to God for a bountiful harvest and safe passage immigrating to North America, to the rampant devastation of the spread of smallpox and assimilating indigenous people into Christianity, are complex origins of the holiday.

Sismondo writes that Canadians, “…consider how to repurpose the holiday to redress historical wrongs—and imagine a new Canadian identity.”

Whether intentionally or not, I think it has already begun with posts on social media of people listing the things they are grateful for this year.

This year I am grateful for friends that challenge my way of thinking, and vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner.

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