pilgrims? please, no.
November 24, 2004 10:38 AM

I wrote a piece last year around this time about the significance of feasting, mostly to counter all the Adbusters' Buy Nothing Day emails and blog posts I'd been reading. Really, there are only so many times you can see "don't buy anything today; Americans are baaad" [sure, that's massively reductive, but play along with me] before it starts sounding a lot like beginning of year weightloss product adverts.

This year, I'm seeing a more interesting trend in my blog bubble. A trend towards recognizing that celebrating the whole "First Thanksgiving" thing with the whole Pilgrim/Indian/kid in turkey outfit concept is basically like a big middle finger to native folk. And really, do we need to shoot another middle finger?

One of my LJ friends (who shall remain nameless) doctored a cutesy Pilgrim-Indian decoration with smallpox references, which I think was a fun, snarky way to encourage others to pause and think about the insultingness of our happy little icons. Because these things seem relatively silly to us grownups, but I think they root into our heads as little kids and give us slightly twisted ideas about this country.

I hate Pilgrims, quite frankly. I don't hate pilgrims, mind you, but the whole Mayflower thing. It creates this idea that the colonies were all founded by religious emigrants, which is patently untrue. Hello, Virginia? Jamestown? First - well, arguably second or third - colony, totally mercenary. And this fiction that we're a nation founded by Puritans gets twisted into thinking that we share - or at least should share - a single morality. Which we clearly don't now.

I think that's a good thing.

I'm not saying we need to do away with the whole day-of-thanks concept. Rather, could we just stop with the fiction around the founding of the country? Maybe make the thanks more about family in our discussion of it - as it is in our practice of it?

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