By Lila Jorge
Associate Head of School
My memories of Thanksgiving are filled with strong sensorial emotions and sounds – the rising smell of Turkey, apple, and pumpkin pie and the laughter and table conversation way into the morning. It is probably one of my favorite if not my favorite holiday. Yet I also remember and must acknowledge that I can hold two disparate feelings of joy and somber remembrance when I celebrate and hold others’ history of pain during this holiday.
Thanksgiving is a holiday that misrepresents history. November is National Indigenous History Month. For Indigenous Peoples, it is often a day of mourning, not a celebration. It is true that following the arrival of Europeans, the Wampanoag shared food and goods with them. However, cooperation was short-lived, and we all know how it went from there. We cannot turn away from the fact that Thanksgiving arose as a celebration that comes from colonization. We can reflect on these ideas and whatever emotions or thoughts arise. I am sharing with you a beautiful poem and let it guide your heart:
“At this table, we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks. Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.”
~Joy Harjo, “Perhaps the World Ends Here”
As we reflect on Thanksgiving, how we incorporate these perspectives into our classrooms or personal reflections matters. Engaging with the complexities of history and amplifying marginalized voices is a critical part of building empathy and understanding. Our Social Studies / Individuals and Societies teachers address these historical complexities, as it aligns with our shared goal of helping students understand and honor diverse perspectives. We thank all of our teachers for doing their part in elevating and deepening our students’ appreciation and valuing of the other perspective(s).
Wishing you all a blessed and reflective Thanksgiving day, however, you choose to honor it.