Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Why We Don't Call It Thanksthinking, by Jim Kirkpatrick

Thanksgiving. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

Now, that day is reserved for those of us in the United States to be thankful. And to give thanks? To be honest, as I think back to how I have spent and honored the day, it was to spend time with family, eat a lot, and to consider all I have to be thankful for.

Those of you who know me know that I am not a fan of learning for learning's sake in the workplace. I am not a life-long learner. I am a life-long DOER with what I have learned.

Similarly, I am not much for being thankful as an internal acknowledgement, but I am afraid that that is exactly what I do all too often. This year, I am going to focus more on actually telling people I am thankful for them.

This year, I suggest you not just think and feel thankful, but you actually thank people for what they mean to you, and what they have done to enrich your life. I guess that is why they called it “Thanksgiving” rather than “Thanksfeeling” or “Thanksthinking”.

Those of you who serve our country here and abroad. I am thankful for you. Same for first responders. I am quite sure I am not alone in calling you out.

Now, on a personal note, I am thankful for Captain Keith, Mark C., Colonel Ann, Jay and Annie, Casey, Mike B, And of course Spang. You have all served, and many are continuing to serve in our military.

I am thankful for Deborah, Susan, Ronnie, Donna and Kevin, Angela and Mary Beth. You all care about our government, and so many count on the services that collectively benefit us all.

It seems that each time I am on the road delivering a program, one or two people add a splash of something that inspires me. An intangible. The unexpected surprise. Thanks Heath, Sara, Max, Megan, Maggie, Marty, and Brandon.   

Finally, I am thankful for my family, friends, and my co-workers here and abroad, especially Wendy.

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# richard regan
Tuesday, November 20, 2018 10:44 AM
Be Thankful but Keep It in Perspective

Envision for a moment that Germany won World War II. They in turn created a holiday that celebrated this feat and ignored the Holocaust and Anti-Semitism. This holiday would be centered around families giving thanks for one of the biggest human rights travesties in world history. Businesses would close during this national observance. Schools would empty as generations of students are indoctrinated with the lessons of this national achievement. Government offices would shut down and mile after mile of city blocks would fill up with revelers marching in parades. Imagine how Jewish people would feel.

This is how most American Indians/Alaska Natives feel about Thanksgiving. They see it as a holiday that took advantage of their gratefulness as our country’s first citizens who were later rewarded with land theft, extermination from disease, violence and near total destruction through forced assimilation.

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with being thankful. There is something very unsettling about celebrating a holiday that does not contain one ounce of truthfulness and historical accuracy.

Other countries have more authentic Thanksgiving celebrations. China celebrates the birth of the moon. Greece recognizes agriculture. Egypt acknowledges fertility. Indonesia and Japan commemorate the significance of rice. Korea remembers the souls of their ancestors.

Can we at least try to add some genuineness and validity to Thanksgiving?

I realize Thanksgiving is here to stay. It would be difficult to undo a national holiday that was introduced during the Lincoln Presidency and formally codified during the Truman Administration. Can we at least celebrate it in a different way?

How will most American Indians/Alaska Natives celebrate Thanksgiving: (1) From a feel-good holiday to a let’s get real holiday; (2) Being thankful every day of the year; (3) From being religiously ordained to a day of confession, repentance and compensation; (4) Instead of shopping till you drop buying only what you need and (4) From being ethnocentric to being self-reflective.

The question remains. Why does this country continue to celebrate a national holiday that does not honor its first citizens? The answer can be found in the allocation of power. It is difficult for those in power to change their stripes because to do so would acknowledge they need to share that power with others.

In the meantime, American Indians/Alaska Natives will cover. Unable to bring their full selves to a celebration that mocks them year after year yet thankful they have survived another year of Thanksgiving.

# richard regan
Tuesday, November 20, 2018 10:45 AM
The Truth About Thanksgiving

For American Indians/Alaska Natives, the traditional “Thanksgiving” federal government holiday is very different from the celebration I learned about from my Tribal elders. It is day of grief and mourning. We see it as a holiday that took advantage of our gratefulness as our country’s first citizens and in turn were rewarded with land theft, extermination from disease, violence and near total destruction through forced assimilation.

For many Native people, Thanksgiving is a day to:

• Pray that the Creator will help people understand the reality about a holiday that does not contain one ounce of truthfulness and historical accuracy.
• Protest the commercialization of a holiday supposedly based on being thankful.
• Help those who like Native people have fallen like the homeless, the hungry, the orphan, the prisoner, the refugee and the forgotten.
• Honor the ancestors of Chief Massasoit and the Wampanoag Indians whose right hand of fellowship to a group of visitors was met with distrust and suspicion.

It is day to appreciate the contributions of Native people to a group of settlers that absence this assistance, would not have allowed our country to become the shining light on a hill for the entire world to see.

The fact of the matter is Native people died so this country could flourish. They are still sacrificing for this land since they serve in the military at higher per capita rates than any racial group.

If you want to be thankful during this season of thanks, acknowledge the Native forefathers and foremothers who are responsible for the true message of Thanksgiving. “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.”

It is within this spirit of generosity and charity that you should place your understanding for a true and honest "Thanksgiving.” A commemoration that does not rejoice in good fortune received but in the blessings, that are given away.
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