First of all, I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving. Be safe, be warm. We’re going to be indulging in the traditional Feast: mashed potatoes, corn, whole wheat bread dressing with onions, celery, and garlic, mushroom gravy with fresh mushrooms, turkey for me, vegetarian sausage patties for Tom (who is a strict vegetarian, and the sausage patties are delicious and pair well with the meal), and whole berry cranberry sauce. Some people add yams and dinner rolls—that’s a little too much carbohydrate for me. Some people add various appetizers. My mother always served shrimp cocktail, and I might add that, too.
It’s the time of year when I bake a pumpkin pie, with a whole wheat crust, from scratch. When the pie is baking, our home is filled with scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.
I’m aware that some people decry Thanksgiving as an evil holiday, a celebration of white European colonialists—Dutch, British, French, German, and Irish—invading the tribes of indigenous people’s land and genociding those people.
If you’re one of those people, please get yourself a copy of GOTHAM, by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace (Oxford University Press), a 1,500 page hardcover (with ten-point type) that I’m slowly working my way through. The book is rife with anecdotes about the friendly relations between the first European settlers and the indigenous people, often inter-marrying (or inter-mating), and sharing their respective technologies.
The first Thanksgiving Feast owed much to the wild turkeys in the new land and East Coast cranberries and stale bread. Potatoes are from South America, and corn is too, and both plants took decades of cultivation to become fit for human consumption. So I doubt mashed potatoes and corn were a part of the original Thanksgiving Feast. I don’t when those dishes were added, but for me they’re an enduring part.
History shows that deadly, violent hatred between the European colonialists and indigenous people arose when (like in Jamestown) the indigenous people became aware that there were a lot more Europeans who wanted to settle in the their land to escape religious persecution and economic hardship in Europe and they would be competing for resources, defending their lives.
If you’re one of those people who decry Thanksgiving and your family goes back four hundred years in this country, or two hundred years to slavery, and your ancestors took part in genociding the indigenous people or owning slaves, go ahead, fast in shame, wear black on Thanksgiving.
But don’t lecture me that it’s wrong to enjoy a wonderful family celebration.
My grandparents immigrated to the U.S.A. in the early 1900s, my maternal grandparents from Lithuania, my paternal grandparents from Croatia. They fled the bloody Bolshevik revolution. I’m thankful they had the courage and strength to leave their homes, their remaining families, and their friends behind to come to America.
My family had nothing to do with genociding the indigenous people or, for that matter, with slavery. I strenuously disagree that you decriers should stick my family with those dark pages in America’s history.
My parents were first-generation Americans. I’m thankful that my father and my mother were good parents. My father fought in World War II to free the world of Nazis, and my husband was drafted in the Vietnam War.
Every Thanksgiving, for as long as I can remember, our tiny family congregated in my Granma Mary’s house and she cooked the traditional Thanksgiving Feast, sometimes adding a ham and her specialty, lemon meringue pie. She baked the stuffing inside the turkey cavity, which I never do—stovetop for me. But her stuffing was memorably delicious.
I’m thankful for those memories.
I’m thankful that I’m a woman, a second-generation American, alive in the U.S.A., 2019. Next year, 2020—a term for perfect vision—will be the 100th anniversary of the national law granting American women the political vote. A hundred years is not the long, historically. Should I blame you men living now for denying women the vote for one hundred and forty-four years since the founding of this country? Do you men think that would be fair?
I’m thankful that I’m woman who was given an education—primary school, college, and professional school. It was not that long ago when women were denied entrance to colleges and especially to professional schools. I’m thankful that my education enabled me to secure good jobs that helped support my family.
I’m thankful that as a woman I can drive my car. In some countries today, women are not allowed to drive.
I’m thankful that as a woman I can sign contracts on my own behalf. I remember in my Contracts 101 class in law school, the professor said that in certain states women were not allowed to sign contracts without their fathers’ or husbands’ co-signature. He was met with a loud chorus of BOOs from us woman students. He threw up his hands and said, “I’m not making this up. That’s the law.” In my lifetime.
I’m thankful as a woman that I can open my own bank accounts, get my own credit cards and loans, buy my own investments, own real estate, and inherit equally with male family members. In my lifetime, those things were not always possible.
It’s still difficult to this day competing in the various Boys’ Clubs—law, business, technology, politics, publishing, science fiction publishing. But I’m thankful as a woman I can at least compete.
So Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have much to be thankful for. I know I do. Please pass the pie.
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