Thanksgiving: Giving Thanks to Tradition or Remixing the Norms? November 21, 2018 – Posted in: African-American Culture, Culture, Relationships – Tags: African-American Culture, Critical Thinking, Family, Thanksgiving
Traditionally Thanksgiving has existed as a holiday to represent coming together over a feast to celebrate all the things you’re grateful for particularly amongst family. What it used to represent versus what it means to Americans today and the pressures to uphold this tradition are different. Thanksgiving has also gained a side tradition: Black Friday which has bled over into Thanksgiving evening. Has the focus of something “socially deemed” as special been turned into more money making tactics? Or is it just a continuation of the American tradition of Capitalism? I don’t know. I mean it’s already a money making machine with it’s feast of groceries everyone purchases at the last minute (sometimes the day before)…or at least that’s what I grew up being exposed to. It’s nothing wrong with getting your money, you need it to get through life in America, but are there no more boundaries to preserve a time when families come together to celebrate their gratitude. Or is it no big deal because we’re all just indulging in gluttony any way? If it is no different than the customs and ways of America traditionally anyway, then is it actually problematic? I’m not certain, these are just questions, thoughts, concerns, and ideas. I personally don’t value tradition as much as the average American might. I’m just not opposed to change and challenging conventions in the first place. I do think though that if you value something, make the efforts, you put into it, be worth your while. Don’t finesse it into something you don’t value anymore. Which brings up the continued paradox of do you change something you value? Traditions can evolve but does it have to evolve into going to Thanksgiving dinner and then at 7:30 pm or so you have to rush to your retail job to make money for someone who likely couldn’t care less about you if you weren’t making them money, let alone not enough to let you enjoy the holiday that they are likely enjoying without having to come into work. Are holidays obliged to be a day off? Or is it a luxury of working at a job with benefits? The last time I checked I wasn’t considered 3/5 of a man anymore so I’d deserve what others get just based on the simple fact that I am a human being. It shouldn’t be a luxury to enjoy time with family and maybe get the itis in the midst of it.
I think it’s easier to forget dark and stormy pasts. Easier to relish in what things mean today especially when they benefit you more than to focus on whether or not you should put so much energy into celebrating a man-made holiday anyway. Some may argue they are traditions that revolve around familial values but if the core of the tradition began with more sinister intention, would you evolve it into something more palatable or abandon it altogether?
I’m grateful for all the things in my life and I appreciate the idea of celebrating those “blessings” with your nearest and dearest, but I also question the value of needing to do so. I’m not saying no one should celebrate the holiday, I’m just wondering if we generally consider the holiday for all that it is or if we choose to focus on what the tradition of celebrating has meant to us overtime.
So this thanksgiving feel free to ignite your power in one to celebrate the holiday as you see fit and consider the ways in which you value all the things you put effort into. Stay empowered!