It’s been quiet here at my blog of late, but the day before Thanksgiving, I’m reflecting on the traditional American celebration of the season.
On the one hand, I appreciate the benefits that gratitude can bring to our health and overall well-being. Reflecting on the positive parts of our lives – our successes and good fortune, the support and encouragement we receive from others, the opportunities we have to give back to our community and world, the many privileges most of us enjoy just by virtue of our birth – gives us a charge of dopamine and other brain-boosting chemicals. This year, I’m particularly grateful for the support of my friends and family, the health I’ve enjoyed and the medical care I’ve been able to access when I needed it, and the opportunities I’ve had as a teacher and a therapist to contribute to the growth of people around me.
On the other hand, this is also a holiday that is based largely on a whitewashed mythology that, for Native American people, is actually a story about the beginnings of the genocide that nearly wiped them off the continent. It’s a day for mourning.
It’s also a holiday rife with stereotypes about Native American/First Nations people and full of opportunities for stereotyped images.
So, whether or not you choose to celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you’ll take this time of year as one in which you cultivate gratitude, and solemnly reflect on the complicated history of life in these United States, and the many opportunities we all have for using whatever privilege we have wisely.