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Commercialism, controversy shouldn’t ruin this holiday

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Commercialism, controversy shouldn’t ruin this holiday

TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE ILLUSTRATION

TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE ILLUSTRATION

TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE ILLUSTRATION

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As the fall leaves begin to be replaced with snow and the pumpkins become overshadowed by evergreens, Thanksgiving gives us all one more opportunity to enjoy the harvest season before entering the crazy, most wonderful time of the year.

But, considering Thanksgiving’s complicated history, we might ask ourselves how we could possibly celebrate a holiday that represents the suffering of so many innocent people.

These people are, of course, Native Americans. Contrary to mainstream history books that portray stories of friendship, the relationships between the pilgrims and Native Americans were less than friendly, and often turned blatantly cruel and fatal. Unfortunately, the history doesn’t align with our cheerful images of Pilgrims and Indians sharing fish and corn over an infinitely long table.

As we examine how history played out, and we see the brutality Native Americans faced, and continue to face today, it’s not surprising that many people choose not to celebrate Thanksgiving because of what its history symbolizes.

Though we don’t like to admit it, it’s much easier to imagine a history we want to believe while we stuff ourselves with stuffing instead of questioning the true history of the event because it might jumble our perceptions of history, as a whole.

But you may say, Thanksgiving doesn’t represent cruelty to Native Americans, it is a holiday meant for gathering families together and sharing a meal. Like many traditions we participate in, its origin may have a questionable foundation, but its early ideals continue to align with what we still value today.

After all, we don’t travel far and wide to visit our families to celebrate the fate of early Native Americans. We come to enjoy the company of those we love and express gratitude for everything we have.

Some might even suggest that Thanksgiving is a picture of what Christmas is supposed to look like without the commercialism and stress.

Unlike what Christmas has become, Thanksgiving celebrates what we already have, rather than what we desire to acquire.

There are two sides to the Thanksgiving debate, both of seemingly equal validity. How do we choose between celebrating what is good, and protesting what is wrong if it is within confines of the same event?

We are often faced with decisions such as these, but it is my belief that we should always pluck a sliver of good out of the heap of bad. The world is already full of negativity. Let’s stop adding to it.

Those who believe it is wrong to celebrate Thanksgiving, are, perhaps, missing the point of the holiday. If we are going to protest the maltreatment of innocent people, we should be protesting what is inherently evil rather than searching for the evil within things that are meant to inspire good.

If we searched through every good event that took place in the past, we could probably find something ugly attached to almost all pieces of living history. There would be no point in doing that, yet we do this kind of hypothetical digging all the time in our world today.

When we celebrate Thanksgiving, we are not celebrating a perfect history or a perfect family, (because who has either of those things?) we are celebrating the things we do have, despite their many imperfections. Thanksgiving is meant to encourage gratitude and the hope for a better future which can only be achieved if we are appreciative of both our present and the lessons learned from the past.

So, as you sit at the table and eat with family – that you may or may not want to spend time with – hopefully, you can be mindful of the true, though often unkind, history while understanding the modern significance of the day.

And if you find absolutely nothing to be thankful for, be thankful that on this one day of the year, you can eat as much as you want without judgement. Spread positivity like you spread your butter.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Commercialism, controversy shouldn’t ruin this holiday