If you missed Why We Are Cancelling Thanksgiving, we suggest reading that piece before continuing.
Instead of mindlessly indulging in the glutinous traditions that have become modern Thanksgiving, this year, we are opting to do something differently. We are intentionally and thoughtfully gathering this year.
As a part of this gathering, we are offering a variety of different practices that better honor the traditions of native cultures that were here before us as well as acknowledge the damages done by the colonial Pilgrims.
Consider focusing on the autumn harvest and cultivating an appreciation for the earth’s bounty. Both elements tie well into the original timing of the autumn harvest gathering and demonstrates a respect for the native American practice of honoring the land. As a part of this practice, consider reading more about individuals experiencing modern food insecurity and hunger in our own backyard.
Another practice we will take on is honoring giving without expecting anything in return. This was a fundamental belief of the indigenous people, who demonstrated that to their demise with the arrival of the colonists.
If you will be hosting guests over the holiday, you might consider offering reading selections in advance to frame the gathering and better inform your friends and family of the historical inaccuracies that underlie the Thanksgiving tradition. These can also include readings that highlight the unique challenges of maintaining native culture today or the issues that disproportionally affect individuals of indigenous communities, such as higher than average suicide rates, alcoholism, and substance abuse.
It is also encouraged to acknowledge and appreciate the natives whose land we occupy and to explicitly name them. Those that were part of the original Thanksgiving narrative, the Wampanoag, are a different tribe than those that occupied our lands here in Southern California. Out of respect for the rich culture and diversity of tradition among the native tribes, we suggest learning on whose lands do we stand.
Another way to be thoughtful about gathering is to consciously select and purchase from native growers for the meal where possible. One can also explore and possibly source heritage breeds and varietals of produce, which are being pulled back from near extinction.
Lastly, consider the content of the conversation around your table. Consider discussing reciprocal relationships and what enriches them. Use the historical truths of the 1600’s New England setting of Thanksgiving to guide the conversation. Invite children to participate in the conversation and ask them how we show respect for reciprocal relationships.
There are a number of ways to gather this November, without hosting a Thanksgiving that ignores the historical horrors. As we cancel the notion of a traditional Thanksgiving and instead gather thoughtfully, we invite you to join us and share your experiences with us @StarfishMarta.
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