BY ALEXANDRA SANSONE
Thanksgiving, while enjoyed by many, certainly has its critics. The reasons why are evident, especially when hearing the horror stories that occur during the household festivities. Thanksgiving is a celebration centered around disorder, with sharp knives, hot ovens and the majority of your family under one roof. No matter how well you get along, things are bound to get chaotic. This is “Unpopular Opinions,” a Lariat column centering around opinions so thoroughly disagreed with that simply conceding to one aspect of their defense will get one mildly maimed. For this entry of Unpopular Opinions, prepare to dive into the untold truths and overlooked problems that Thanksgiving holds.
Piling all of one family into a house can be stressful. After facing the initial urgency of preparing mass amounts of food in a minimal amount of time, it is expected that one will actually talk to the people who intend to eat it. Kids are greeted by relatives with discussions about their grades and school work on the few days that they have off. Families break off into cliques and, despite the perfect pictures posted on Facebook, don’t actually interact the way families do in every sentimental holiday advertisement. And who could forget the events of the day after Thanksgiving? There is nothing more American than giving thanks for all you have before darting off to tackle people for discounts on Black Friday.
For some the feast is about fueling up for campouts at Best Buy, but to the general population the stuffing holiday is thought to be a celebration of pilgrimage and survival of harsh conditions in a foreign land. However, Thanksgiving did not become an official holiday until 1863, during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. The gruesome events leading up to the original meal were pushed aside to ease the minds of American citizens. According to Ronald C. White Jr., American historian and award winning author, Lincoln made the proclaimed the national holiday in attempt to diffuse tension during the civil war.
The basic foundation upon which Thanksgiving began was not as cheerful as it appears in our childhood textbooks. The settlers of Massachusetts Bay, finding themselves in a new bewildering environment, made a treaty with the nearby Wampanoag tribe, both parties agreeing to provide protection for one another. However, by the time the first Thanksgiving meal is thought to have occurred, Native American tribes had seen a colossal decline in their population due to European diseases brought by said settlers.
After conflicts over a treaty with another nearby tribe, the Pequots, the Massachusetts Bay Governor John Winthrop announced what is now known as the first Thanksgiving meal. In his triumph Winthrop declared, “This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots.” The pilgrims did just that, celebrating the genocide of the Pequot tribe and betraying the natives who helped them survive long enough to enjoy their feast.
Since Thanksgiving values are not what they once were and now consist of overeating and football, many Americans are not aware of what the Thanksgiving holiday symbolizes. Further, as if we haven’t taken enough from the Native Americans, we insist on appropriating their culture, encouraging children to create feather adorned headdresses and run around like “savages” as we giggle, record and post it.
The traditions and practices of Thanksgiving are very different in the present time, but its rotten roots must be acknowledged instead of swept under the rug as it has been for years on end.
Featured image courtesy of Faith Goble, CC license