Happy Thanksgiving to all of my family, friends, and readers of this blog! These are a few of the thoughts on my mind this year:
First, it has been a good year. I completed my ThM and it appears that I will begin my doctoral studies with the University of Bristol in September 2013 (a few logistical matters need to be resolved first). My wife finished her BA and then she was chosen to be part of Teach for America. We moved from Oregon to Texas. This year we were able to celebrate the holiday with my mother-in-law, which is wonderful since we didn’t have any family in Oregon. This holiday known as Thanksgiving is designed by my culture as a day of remembering all the good things about life, but I hope that I don’t restrict this attitude to one day a year. It should be a daily posture.
Second, holidays like this one–where I have family, friends, food, health, housing, sanity, and much more–remind me that there are others who do not have these things and there could be a day when I don’t either. It should motivate me to be compassionate to those who do not have it and it should remind me to appreciate what I do have. When I say “have” I don’t mean a nice car, an iPhone, or many of the things celebrated on the commercials playing on my TV during the football game. I mean this simple things, those things we need and those things we come to expect even if there is no guarantee of their presence tomorrow.
Third, as I watch the Dallas Cowboys play the Washington Redskins–a name that needs to be changed because of its racial overtones–I am reminded that this holiday continues to have undertones of injustice toward Native peoples of this land. I read somewhere yesterday that Natives are the only group in this nation that continue to shrink each census. As a Christian I am reminded that fellow Christians have done much harm to Native peoples; therefore, we need to repent on behalf of our forefathers and mothers. More importantly, as a Christian living in the present I must be aware of whether there is anything I can do to show love to the people who have called this wonderful land “home” far longer than me or my ancestors. I know we cannot erase the past, and I know that we cannot do anything in the present to make the past disappear, but as a Christian I hope to aim for a brighter present and future as I relate to the Native American community. I wrote about this a little last year and it is something that still haunts me every Thanksgiving (see “Thanksgiving, genocide, and reconciliation with Native Americans”). (Excursion: Rev. Dr. Randy S. Woodley, “The Thanksgiving Myth: Not a Bad Start”)
Fourth, Black Friday: I don’t understand this “event” (for lack of a better word). We celebrate the fact that we have all we need, then we trample one another in stores to earn more (thereby, allowing businesses a reason for making people work the night after Thanksgiving rather than relaxing with their family). One time when my brother began college I went to one of Best Buy on the morning of Black Friday at around 5 AM. Obviously I had no idea how it works. People had been camped in front of the store since late the prior evening. Needless to say, I didn’t find a computer for my brother. Also, I saw how ridiculous it is to participate in Black Friday (unless you happen to go into a store later in the day and you come across a deal) and I won’t do it again. I wish there was no such thing.