In Defense of Thanksgiving

Helen Innes, Opinion Editor

In the current time of unrest and separation following the election, Thanksgiving is becoming more important than ever. The essence of family time, joining friends and family members around a table to celebrate your gratefulness, and celebrating “Friendsgiving” hold fundamental importance to warming your heart in a way that is very important to show love to others. Although most popularly known as “that one holiday before Christmas,” Thanksgiving holds an abundance of importance that we can all learn about. The generosity of the Native Americans towards the new settlers was a groundbreaking action, but sometimes the true meaning behind Thanksgiving can be overlooked.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year (sorry Rudolph, but please pass the turkey). Thanksgiving had its first celebration in 1621, where “the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies,” reports. Thanksgiving began when one small ship, the Mayflower, which left Plymouth, England full of religious separatists, laid anchor in Cape Cod after 66 days of traveling. Later that year, the first Thanksgiving feast was shared, and in 1863, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln announced that a national Thanksgiving Day would be held every November.

However, despite what many children are taught in school about the holiday, the relationship between the Native Americans and the Pilgrims was not always pictured with a sunny gaze in front of fields upon fields of corn and other crops. In fact, there was a long “and bloody history of conflict between Native Americans and European settlers that resulted in the deaths of millions,” reports. Protesters, since 1970 on every Thanksgiving Day, stand at the the top of Cole’s Hill, overlooking Plymouth Rock to recognize a “National Day of Mourning.” Similar protests take place all over the country.

The American people can learn a lot from the original Thanksgiving feast. In the recent times following the election where people form violent protests against the recent results of the presidential election, citizens can learn about the generosity that the Native Americans and the Pilgrims shared. The Pilgrims and the Native Americans did not always get along, but between the sharing of knowledge about planting certain crops, among other things, the first Thanksgiving celebration took place.

Thanksgiving encourages us to take a step back, realize that we are all human and have more in common than not and take time to acknowledge the love that we share for others. We are reminded to love one another, and to really realize just how lucky we are to live in such a wonderful country. Just like how the Wampanoag Indians learned to live with the Pilgrims, we can too learn to live with each other. Although Christmas is coming and Thanksgiving will soon be a distant memory, let us not forget the truths that the holiday offers.