The Truth of Thanksgiving


Every American knows the story of Thanksgiving.


The year is 1621. The Pilgrims are struggling to carry on. They’re plagued with disease and famine, it seems that they won’t make it through. In their weakness comes a saving force, the Native Americans. The Wampanoag Tribe graciously helps the suffering and failing Pilgrims develop their settlement and make it through to their first harvest. With great appreciation, the Pilgrims decide to host a feast for their new found friends. They all come together and live peacefully.


This isn’t true, not at all. When in history have white settlers truly decided to do something gracious for the people they were stealing land from? Here’s how it really went.


It begins the same way, the same struggling, the same help. But then something changes. Thankful that they somehow didn’t die, Governor William Bradford of the Pilgrims decides to focus a day on prayer to God. Yes, they invited Native Americans, but no, the feast wasn’t for them. The Natives were soon forcibly taken out of their land and many died from diseases that the Pilgrims brought over. They don’t tell you about that in elementary school.


The history of Thanksgiving is riddled with racism and death, yet we teach children that it was a day of peace and happiness. If you’re going to teach something, don’t teach the whitewashed interpretation. Teach the facts, or just don’t teach it at all.


Despite this horrible history, we continue to celebrate this holiday every year.


I will say though, that modern day Thanksgiving isn’t focused solely on history. Some choose to ignore it and rather focus on family. I see a major problem in this, too.


While family is very important to some, is it really worth celebrating? You are predestined to them. By blood, your family is chosen. It seems we focus on something that we have because of luck or fate, something that is out of our control. Though I love my family and I am very lucky to have them, it would be ignorant to believe that everyone, or even the majority of people, have a good family.


Some people, even friends in my life, have been stuck in toxic families or in bad living situations. Is it really right to make them feel like they have to love the people that treat them so terribly? Why is it okay that we make them feel guilty if they’re not thankful for their “family”?


Though it’s impractical to try to completely eliminate a flawed holiday, there are many changes that we can make. We can stop teaching children about the traditional story of Thanksgiving, and rather focus on teaching them ways to be grateful for what they have. We can invite an extended crowd to our celebrations and parties. We can completely shift the concept to make a holiday full of gratitude and love, not privilege and frustration.


While Thanksgiving is stuck in the past, Friendsgiving is a more progressive alternative. With it being a more contemporary approach, it ignores the story of the First Thanksgiving and allows us to practice gratitude to those who have given a lot for us. Family can also be friends, but this way it eliminates the feeling that you have an obligation to love them because you chose them. They are your new “family” and that’s something worth being thankful for.