It's that time of year again when we stuff our bellies with tons of triptophan-laced turkey, stuffing, cranberry, rolls, papas and gravy. We get two days off of work and school to spend time with our friends and family and have few drinks, kick-back and relax. Yet, for those of us that know the history of this holiday, it is difficult to embrace the spirit of it with images of happy pilgrims and Indians permeating the grocery stores, office workspaces, and schools. During my hard-core activist days, we were angry at the Hollywood and Disney images of perfection that made anyone that didn't look that way feel like 2nd class citizens. Yet, now that we are parents, we're not so uptight about things. Even though my curly-haired, caramel, sun-kissed skin-toned daughter loves to watch the blonde, stick-thin Disney princesses I know that she can still enjoy watching those films and still have confidence in her own looks because, well, I'm her mom, and I won't let her think she's anything but beautiful. And now that she is in pre-school, the halls are filled with happy pilgrims in their puritan hats and muskets. The scary part for me is the day she tells me the story of Thanksgiving according to school doctrine. How or when do I tell her the complicated history? At what age do you open kids' eyes to the reality? It's the Libra (scales, balance, justice) and historian in me that can't turn a blind eye. I don't even know if I can bite my tongue at Christmas and tell her Santa is just pretend. I know she's only 3 but I just might and I know she'll be alright because I'm her mom and I won't let her think Santa is so necessary to her happiness. Her favorite question is "who buy this for me?". I don't think I can keep saying Santa without being annoyed. I did have a good laugh today at an episode of Dexter where the family was gathering around for Thanksgiving dinner and the daughter mentioned the slaughter of the Indians by the pilgrims after the supposed first Thanksgiving dinner. I'm glad to see the story is becoming a bit more mainstream, albeit in a Showtime series about a serial killer. It's something.
The question for me was to celebrate or not. I think it was an easy decision to celebrate Thanksgiving for the sentiments of giving thanks and spending time with loved ones. When I moved to LA from Texas for college, I had no family or friends here. The holiday wasn't long enough to fly home so I was stuck in my dorm hoping someone would invite me over. I honestly can't remember what I did each year if anything but I do remember going to San Diego freshman year to spend the day at my roommmate's aunt's house. We took Amtrack down and watched Nightmare Before Christmas in the theater. Another year, my friend from East LA invited me to spend the holiday with her family. Those invitations meant a whole lot to me and that's probably why I still remember them. I know what it's like to be lonely on these holidays and to pretend that you don't want to celebrate is not worth it. Who doesn't want to get together, eat, drink, watch the game, spend some time with others? I may never allow my daughter to dawn on a pilgrims hat or an Indian feather for Thanksgiving or place those images on my dinner table but I will eat a turkey and stuff my belly full of all the fixings and I will give thanks for all the good things in my life.