In the year 2020, a rather arbitrary concept of numbering how time passes for us – and it’s not like 2019 was a banger of a year – this Thanksgiving can seem to ring a bit hollow. We’re in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, the CDC has made it clear that travelling to see loved ones and bringing your personalized culture farm that may or may not be hiding a killer virus, and we Americans have predictably chosen to ignore them. I heard all kinds of grandmas in interviews. “I need to see my grandbabies!” they declare. I have been faithfully making turkey for my kids and my mother every Thanksgiving, and this was the first time I’ve ever convinced her that “I need to see my grandbabies” isn’t a good enough reason to risk coming to cities. At least I hope I did. She’s known for making game-time decisions.
Meanwhile, in my Twitter feed and my TikTok For You page, there are a smattering of posts from people dutifully reminding us that this holiday, like most holidays in America, has been whitewashed in cheap semi-gloss so as to remove any and all traces of the fact that our Forefathers (which is capitalized for some reason) stole this land from Native Americans and committed unspeakable atrocities in the process. While it is true that our ancestors from Europe were part of a worldwide colonizing spree that involved murder and pillaging, rest assured that this was and is a very homo sapiens behavior. We of the easily sunburned variety were quite adept at pillaging from our own for a few hundred years before we developed better seafaring capabilities and could properly branch out. If Native American history has proper insight, I don’t believe it was the garden of Eden on this side of the pond before we got here. The Black Hills traded tribal hands a couple of times before the US stole it, and I don’t believe those were peaceful transitions. Humans like killing other humans to take their land. It’s why we have billions of Dollars/Euros/Pesos invested in highly sophisticated war machinery so that we can posture properly on a world stage and protect our land from those damnable Russians. (Kidding. But Putin is a fucking nightmare.) I know that zooming out is bad form in these discussions, but I think I might have a point in here somewhere. Maybe. I use humor to bandage wounds and sometimes I can seem rather haphazard in its application. Part of my point is: Yes, our ancestors were asshats, too.
Another sizeable chunk of social media and news coverage right now is, of course, dedicated to the fact that there is a sizeable portion of this country that does not believe Joe Biden is the President-elect of the United States. Since I’m on the side with the Electoral College numbers this time, I’m fascinated by the behavior of the Hat-Red Brigade. (That may look reversed, but read it closely a few times and you’ll get it.) In the face of overwhelming evidence, and despite losing every single consequential court case to fight said evidence – because the cases brought forth don’t have any evidence – there’s large swaths of very angry white people out there who believe, wholeheartedly, that Trump is getting second term. They clamor about it all being some kind of 3D chess game or something and that Trump is some sort of Vulcan Bobby Fischer despite getting caught paying off a porn star to keep quiet about the sex they had. The deprogramming of these MAGA people is going to be a long process, folks. Cults are like that. At least sanity is taking over again before they literally drink any Trump brand Kool-Aid. I think he’d spike it with hydroxychloroquine or bleach or something.
The last part of the social media blitz are the things most of us are trying to avoid. But I think it should be something we should all be aware of. I hope you’ll forgive me going with a more serious tone here.
For one, if anything should be on your list of things to be thankful for this year it’s this: Healthcare providers are currently being utterly overwhelmed by COVID cases. I firmly and sincerely believe that the aftershocks of having to deal with this pandemic will be felt for the rest of their lives. Everyone from the front desk person who has reminded people that they need to wear a mask so many times that it’s nearly become religious mantra, to the doctors and nurses who are close to making decisions that include rationing care in emergency rooms, and the mental healthcare workers who are only now touching the surface of having to deal with an entire generation’s worth of PTSD including the very doctors and nurses who treated victims…this list is becoming endless. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
For another, there is a projected number of 50 million food-insecure people in our country that not only won’t have a turkey dinner and all the sides, they may not have anything substantial at all. Overwhelmed food banks offer literal tons of food and the lines of cars go for miles and run out of food to give to hungry families long before the end of those lines. These people need our help and support. Do what you can in your hometown, and work outwards. There but for luck, race, and opportunity, you could be in the same dire situation. Don’t turn away and cynically reassure your tortured conscience that it’s their own fault. By and large it’s not.
All of that said, I hope you have a safe, healthy, and well-fed holiday. I may not buy into the whole “pilgrims and indians” fake-ass nostalgia bullshit underpinnings that our white American culture fed into us, but I do believe in annual gatherings with those that you love every so often and eat and drink until you cannot move. Let Native Americans know that you recognize that it’s a National Day of Mourning to them (I am capitalizing that one) and let them mourn however they see fit. Touch base with folks you haven’t spoken to and let them know that you’re thinking about them. Do NOT text your ex after a few glasses of wine. Just saying. Nothing good ever comes of this.