Celebrating Complexity: Winter CSA 2018 – Delivery #2
In our family, Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate family, friends, food, and the many other blessings of comfort we enjoy. I imagine it is similarly celebrated like this is your family too.
However, as the coloring pages of turkeys and Pilgrims and Native Americans eating happily together come home from school, I struggle with how to talk about what the Thanksgiving story leaves out in terms of America’s history. It is a holiday where we celebrate the helping hand given to European settlers by the Native peoples, without telling the rest of the story – how the settlers did not continue that spirit of cooperation and community as they forcibly took over Native lands.
I don’t want to necessarily unteach her the history she is learning at school around this holiday – lessons of religious tolerance and American freedom. But I am trying to figure out how to help her know the Native Peoples’ side of this story – without darkening the holiday for her all together. A tricky homework assignment for sure.
For help, I decided to see how some of my religious leaders grapple with this holiday that simultaneously celebrates gratitude (a beautiful concept) and obscures a history of oppression. I found the words of Revered David Schwartz, of the First Unitarian Church of Chicago, to be a helpful way to think about this holiday – how to think of it as a holiday that at once expresses gratitude and a commitment to continue to work toward equity for all.
From his reading Who is Freedom For, Rev. Schwartz writes:
“We gather at Thanksgiving, in some sense, to retell the creation myth of our country. In this myth is our very best and our very worst: a boldness; a care for the common good; a wish to say we before I. Yet from even before the first Thanksgiving feast, it’s a story of theft and violence, and a ruthlessly narrow definition of who “we” really means.
The colonists had come seeking freedom, and in that we identify with them. But it was freedom only for themselves. In every generation forward, from that day to this, the people living in this land that became America struggled always with the question: Who is freedom for?
Black persons were taken from their native Africa to become slaves. Immigration laws were written explicitly to prohibit non-Western Europeans. Women could not vote even a century ago. In many states right now, gays and lesbians can be legally fired or evicted merely for not being straight. Refugees knock and, in response, voices call to bar the door.
Clarence Skinner wrote, a century ago:
The fight for freedom is never won… Each generation must win for itself the right to emancipate itself from its own tyrannies, which are ever unprecedented… Therefore those who have been reared in freedom, bear a tremendous responsibility to the world to win an ever larger and more important liberty.
So may it be for us. We are the inheritors of our liberty, won with sweat and labor and blood of generations before us. May we be a people committed to winning an ever larger liberty for the generations that follow.
Who is freedom for? May we answer, today and always: every one of us.”
Through Schwartz’s piece, I’ve found a way to talk about this holiday’s historical context through a lens my kids can both understand and be motivated from. Thanksgiving is a holiday that celebrates our many blessings and also reminds us of the constant work we must engage in to make sure our freedoms and privileges are extended to all.
May you be always nourished with food and love.
Mike, Cassie, Zea, Edie, and Juna
In the Box:
Beauty Heart Radish
Onion, Yellow (with a red and a sweet mixed in)
- Butternut, Apple, Leek Gratin
- Better Than Pumpkin Pie
- Baked Kale and Turnips
- Winter Salad with Beets, Beauty Heart Radish and Balsamic Reduction
- Braised Lentils with Chinese Cabbage, Kohlrabi, and Sausage
- Vegetable Stew with Carrots, Potatoes, and Kohlrabi
- Chickpea Pancakes with Leeks, Squash, and Yogurt
- Easy Potato Leek Soup
- Baked Sweet Potatoes with Leeks and Gorgonzola
- Sweet Potato Brownies
- Salad Turnips Sauteed in Butter