Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love eating, drinking, and spending time with friends and family. Sometimes it's the one day a year I manage to relax and not get angry about how everything isn't perfect all the time (though not always -- sorry everyone who was at that first Thanksgiving in our new house in San Pablo).

Unfortunately, for my (sadly, currently AWOL) Kiowa friend Mark and other Native Americans, Thanksgiving is an anti-celebration of how a coastal tribe of First Nations people helped the subsequently genocidal English survive their first winter in a strange land. According to John Toland's book on Hitler (and other sources), the Nazi holocaust was modeled after the genocide of the Native Americans. While many things in American history may be admirable, that aspect of our collective past, along with slavery and other racist actions, is not. So this Thanksgiving I give thanks for family (like my awesome wife), friends, food, cats, art, music, literature, science, technology, a great job (even if it pisses me off sometimes) with great colleagues, and for the country that in 1955 accepted my war refugee family as residents and maybe in my lifetime will manage to live up to all its Liberal, Democratic ideals at least as much as it preaches them.

I also give thanks that our friend Todd seems on the road to recovery after his terrible accident, and that our friend Philip has survived yet another tour in Iraq (as a journalist).

Finally, I give thanks for those First Nations people and all the things they tried to teach our European forebears, including all the things they tried to teach us that "we" didn't listen to. I wish more of them were around today to share in every Thanksgiving with us, and I'd certainly give thanks if more Americans were to pause and reflect on those things in our past and how we can be better world citizens and atone for sins we didn't commit, but which we benefit from, by making the world a more peaceful and creative place (and I mean that in the least Hippie-bead-herder way possible).