|Jinny has been very ill and is currently undergoing rehabilitation in a Bangor facility so she will not be writing her article for awhile. She is making excellent progress and hopes to be able to return to writing her column in the near future... Adele.
By the time you read this Thanksgiving will have come and gone. I always approach Thanksgiving with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it seems like a good idea, being thankful for what you have, but I have never really required a special day for that purpose. I'm generally thankful for whatever I have or can get on a daily basis. The family thing is nice, but my oldest is in Florida, my beloved daughter is in San Diego, and everyone else other than my mother and Chuck are all over the place, so gathering together isn't exactly an option. If you take all that out of it Thanksgiving is largely about food and I am not big on food.
For one thing, I am one of those people who eats to live rather than lives to eat. I am an indifferent cook and when I do cook, I want it to be in the most efficient situation possible unless I am out camping or hiking or something. Frankly, if you don't like eating all that much, the food end of Thanksgiving is mostly a lot of work.
My kids have an odd take on Thanksgiving. Katie has always liked it, but she likes to cook. My oldest, Jamie, was in grade school when he told me that he thought we should forego Thanksgiving altogether. It was kind of a strange situation because Jamie was one of those kids who absolutely never got in trouble and never made any waves in school so I was rather surprised when I got a call from the school counselor. She informed me that Jamie had put in a formal written request to the principal to have the famous painting of Columbus being greeted by a native chief in the new world removed from his classroom. He wrote in his request that he found it offensive because Columbus and those who followed him systematically either enslaved or killed the natives wherever they went and the painting was a lie. I wasn't sure what they wanted me to say about this, the boy had read an historical account of what happened to Native Americans in the New World and he was obviously powerfully affected by it. More than I realized, evidently. I told the counselor that I knew that Jamie had read the book and was sincerely moved by what he learned but I knew nothing about his campaign to get rid of the painting. At any rate, I didn't see the problem as he was going through the appropriate channels to right what he felt was an injustice; it wasn't like he had ripped the picture down or written grafitti on it or anything.
"We find his passion on the subject somewhat of a concern," she told me.
"Why?" I asked. "Do you have a problem with students forming opinions through what they have learned? Is he being disruptive or something?"
"No, not at all," she responded. "He's just such a quiet kid that it surprised us."
"I'm surprised that he took the time and made the effort to actually write a letter,since he is kind of lazy," I assured her, "but I'm not at all surprised that he feels that way. He's a very socially conscious individual."
"Well," she said doubtfully, "as long as you're not concerned."
"Nope." I told her, "I'm actually proud."
That year Jamie and Katie informed me that we should no longer celebrate Thanksgiving because the original settlers had only survived thanks to help from the Native Americans and thanked them later by stealing their land and killing them. He and his sister stood in front of me with their arms folded across their chests looking very adamant and not likely to be talked out of it.
"While I deeply admire your convictions," I assured them, "I believe that we might be able to reach a compromise about this Thanksgiving thing. I think that we can continue to enjoy the family aspect of the holiday and the sentiment of general thankfulness without compromising your beliefs if we just redefine the holiday in our own terms."
"Like, decide for ourselves what it is about?" Jamie asked.
"Exactly." I told them. "So why don't you go make a list of things that you want it to be about and that is what it will be."
So they went and made a list and it went like this:
We are thankful that we have each other.
We are thankful that we live someplace where we can say what we believe.
We are thankful that we can have a nice Thanksgiving dinner in a warm house with our family.
We are thankful that we are healthy and happy and together.
We are thankful that we have a mother who understands us and lets us be ourselves. (I really liked that one)
So that is how we defined Thanksgiving and always have since. I suppose that is what everyone does, really, defines it in their own way. I still have that list and will always keep it. I added something to it; I'm thankful that I have such caring, strong, and loving children with a powerful sense of justice.