dakotaThanksgiving Day

For a long time I’ve wanted to make my Thanksgiving reflective and with loving community. But I’ve spent many years as the primary caretaker for older people in my life, and with that came an adherence to some tradition.

This year it is just my little family. Of course, we plan to visit the elders in their respective senior housing and leave them to enjoy turkey with the other residents.

hudsonriver-in-autumnWithout the responsibilities of a big dinner and chauffeuring, I can be out of doors with more pleasure. Here in NY, I have often imagined the Hudson River as it looked when only indigenous people lived on its shores.

There are pockets along the river that are relatively quiet. Nature sanctuaries and trails along the marshlands or in the woods invite thoughts of when the people loved and were one with the land.

Holidays are tense for those in recovery, because they agitate one’s propensity to escape, make nice, self-medicate, There is a phrase that is used in 12-Step groups: “you’re only as sick as your secrets”. It seems to me that the U.S. continues to suffer from denial of so many things. This eats away at an ability to truly heal from the past.

In many schools, children are taught about the slaughter and conquering of the Indian nations. Although this is more dimensional than when I was a child, it usually lacks an acknowledgment of genocide and the systematic destruction of tribal cultures.

There has never been a formal atonement to the Indian nations from a U.S. president. Some municipalities now celebrate Indigenous People Day. The Massachusetts area invites people to gather for The Day of Mourning, as many Native Americans call Thanksgiving 

Whether you are deep in the prep of a traditional turkey dinner, involved in an emotional journey or plan to celebrate in your own way, may you truly feel the blessings of this life.

There are families across America who have opted out of the traditional gathering because of political differences. They want to avoid the fallout of this past election. I grew up in a family with extreme political differences and I understand the desire not engage but to regroup.

Regardless of what you choose to do today, it is appropriate always to give thanks for the harvest and the beauty of the Earth.

I am thankful that I live in a time when I can research the history of the European conquest of the Americas, even though it hurts my heart. Many people now recognize the injustice, greed and prejudice that worked to destroy native cultures. Not everyone sees history this way, but perspectives are widening.

In spite of their language and stories being stolen, tribal nations have managed to exist with integrity. They remind us that strength and survival come from the connection to the land.

Wherever this holiday takes you, moderation is advised, since intense conversations or reactions can drive you somewhere unexpected.