November 26: Thanksgiving and National Day of Mourning
Last Sunday, we talked about gratitude and thankfulness - specifically, how to honor and invest in our divine connection to the rest of creation by going beyond a quick "thank God for this" or a statement around the table of what we're thankful for, and putting our thankfulness into real actions that express our gratitude, share our good fortune, and contribute to society and the greater good. You can catch this video below, or watch & share it on Facebook @RecoveryWorship and YouTube.
So perhaps today you are celebrating Thanksgiving by watching the parade, splitting the wishbone, rewatching all the Thanksgiving episodes of Bob's Burgers, video chatting with loved ones, eating a simple frozen meal...but consider the message of expressing sentiment through action.
With that said, we also need to reckon with the duality of this day.
This year is the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing and the subsequent contact between the colonists and the Wampanoag people. The harvest meal that is commonly called the First Thanksgiving in 1621 was not celebrated as a big deal or national holiday until the 1800s - the US was divided over the issue of slavery, so a feel-good holiday was a chance to feel more 'united.'
But throughout the 400 years since the arrival of the pilgrims, the colonists and US government have wrought disease, racism, and genocide upon indigenous peoples. (And yes, this is ongoing, including for example the Department of the Interior's action to remove reservation status from tribal land in Massachusetts.) So this day that many of us celebrate as Thanksgiving is conversely recognized as the National Day of Mourning.
So if you're celebrating Thanksgiving today, a few things you can do to start decolonizing your celebrations are to learn about true history and dispel the harmful thanksgiving myths that many of us learned growing up; watch the National Day of Mourning stream at uaine.org; learn about and support indigenous nations in their fight against ongoing systemic oppression; learn about and support ongoing indigenous work to protect and repair the earth, including water protectors, forest guardians, those rescuing animals from fires and the effects of climate change, and many more ongoing efforts.
One of the things we often talk about at Recovery Worship is that idea that our faith is less about a belief in certain prescribed doctrines or dogmas, and more about faithfulness to building community toward the Divine vision of justice, love, and compassion for all, and a world where we do not seek to hold power over one another. These two things we just talked about - expressing gratitude in more concrete ways, and learning about the National Day of Mourning and supporting indigenous peoples - are part of that faithfulness.