Reading the headlines on Thanksgiving, I came across a statement that actress Angelina Jolie allegedly said regarding the holiday: “To celebrate what the white settlers did to the native Indians, the domination of one culture over another, just isn’t her style. She definitely doesn’t want to teach her multi-cultural family how to celebrate a story of murder.” Now whether the actress actually made this comment or not remains to be seen, but I have never thought of Thanksgiving in that light.
I have always thought of Thanksgiving as a time of giving thanks. I found it odd that her interpretation of Thanksgiving and mine could be on such opposite ends of the spectrum. In my recollection from my school days, I thought the two cultures came together and celebrated with a feast. Perhaps, this was just a story dreamed up by a historian wanting to glorify the plight of the pilgrims and paint a picturesque scene that would stand the test of time. Nonetheless, it is this story I would like to think is factual to fit into my vision of why we celebrate this holiday…that the pilgrims came to this world in search of religious freedom, the native Americans aided them in their survival upon their arrival to the new world, and they gathered together and celebrated with a grand feast. Of course the honeymoon didn’t last forever and the fighting between the two ensued.
Perhaps, instead of avoiding the holiday altogether (if this is a true statement) Ms. Jolie could use this opportunity as a history lesson to her multi-cultural family. How as a nation we have matured, how we, as a country, have fought and died for the rights of others, and how still today we are fighting for that same freedom. Don’t ignore the holiday because of something that happened hundreds of years ago beyond our control. If this is truly how she feels (and I respect her opinion) use the holiday as an educational topic up for debate amongst her children rather than abandoning the day altogether. Seeing their multi-cultural backgrounds I think would make this an interesting assignment.
Yes, I acknowledge that throughout history, the white man did come in and slaughter innocent Indians as he forged his way west. However, if I recall, the white folk were slaughtered, tortured and kidnapped as well. It was all about survival, playing king of the mountain, staking claims, protecting resources, and defending ones home and family.
To take this holiday and turn it into a political statement just seems misplaced. If we look hard enough we can find fault in all our holidays. Let’s just try to keep them all in perspective. Let’s enjoy the moment, celebrate the good, learn from the bad, and keep the traditions alive.
Today, I am thankful that we live in a country where we can have opinions, disagree with another, and still live to tell about it.