Holidays teach cultural values. What values are accepted and celebrated at Thanksgiving?
The holiday was established, we're told, to recall the day the Pilgrims, having arrived in North America, dined peacefully on turkey flesh with the Native Americans. Most CARE members and supporters challenge the notion of an animal-killing as a sign of peace. So we have celebrated together on the final Thursday of November with an animal-free feast.
But there's another problem, evident if we revisit history. Thanksgiving was first proclaimed by the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to commemorate the 1637 Pequot massacre, when 700 indigenous adults and children were killed during their annual Green Corn Dance celebration.
We shall participate in this year's dinner on Nov. 27 with our friends, as CARE already committed to the event. But in our October board meeting, Dr. Ayo Gooden reminded us how this day of celebration hurts those who survived the genocide perpetrated against their ancestors. And after this year, CARE might establish a Friday gathering, perhaps named Beyond Thanksgiving. (You'll find other potential naming ideas at the conclusion of this column.)
As we talk with ourselves and our supporters, some find it hard to give up something we've grown comfortable with over two decades! We love celebrations, friendships, unity, and gratitude.
With all this in mind, the CARE board members have been working to achieve a full consensus on this, as it greatly matters to CARE’s way of being in the community, of projecting our values, of understanding each others’ viewpoints. At the same time, we believe it's important to have patience with those who have not yet had the opportunity to make the mental and social transition. We have therefore not yet come to a consensus as to how to create CARE's new tradition.