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Thanksgiving, Revised

November 24, 2010

My increasingly post-colonial views on Thanksgiving perhaps place me within a certain stereotype:  postmodern, hipster, liberal, white.  Riddled with angst, and panged with guilt.  It might seem, say, that I object to preschool depictions of Pilgrims and Indians sitting down for a meal of mutual edification. Or the suggestion that this first meal ushered in a long history of peace and respect forevermore.

But I don’t mind it, actually.  Just like I don’t mind my daughter testifying that the Tooth Fairy is real, based on intelligence gathered from one of her classmates who reports that a friend exchanged a tooth for a coin.  Or the notion that the founding fathers prospered due only to their intelligence, hard work, and moral rectitude. Or the view that the Bible story of Noah is a tale of God’s kind care for creation, and that Abraham was an awesome husband and father.  I don’t mind, because these are the myths we tell children to help make the scary parts of our lives and our collective stories more palatable.  It’s okay for kids to deceive themselves in order to placate their fears.  It is much less acceptable, however, when adults insist on their revisionist histories and comforting myths.

My own view is that this country is no more or less healthy or perfect than its constituent families that gather around their tables on this holiday.  Pretty good families, most of them, but with flaws and problems and secrets nonetheless.  The honesty and compassion with which we deal with our shortcomings is what can make us great.

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