For those of us who live in the United States of America, Thanksgiving is upon us. Created as a federal holiday in 1863, by Abraham Lincoln in the middle of the Civil War, Thanksgiving is the one major holiday in the United States that is non-deominational: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, all can celebrate Thanksgiving with a clear conscience.
Unless your Native American. Or care about Native Americans. Just as with Columbus Day, but maybe not to the same degree, Thanksgiving has been tarnished by the notion that it is a “celebration of the conquest of Native Americans by colonists.” Some critics of Thanksgiving have suggested that it be replaced, with its “self-indulgent family feasting”, by a “National Day of Atonement” accompanied by “a self-reflective collective fasting.”
The perception of Thanksgiving among Native Americans is not reported to be universally negative, however. In a piece that appeared in the Huffington Post in 2010, Tim Giago, the founder of the Native American Journalists Organization, argued that the idea of a day of Thanksgiving had been a part of the Native American tradition for centuries, and that it “blended” well with the national holiday.
If Thanksgiving has a mixed legacy, I’m not sure anything can good can be said about “Black Friday,” that celebration of unrestrained consumerism which, while not itself necessarily a bad thing, has become symbolic of our collective greed, as more and more large retailers force their workers to show up at stores earlier and earlier, by now having encroached well into the Thanksgiving holiday itself, so that the rest of us can chase purported “bargains” which actually aren’t any better bargains than one can get at other times of the year, if one is at all a smart shopper, all to indulge what we imagine our needs to be. And we reward these large retailers by actually showing up in their stores as soon as possible. I mean, there really is something seriously wrong with us.