A Bittersweet Holiday: Making it Sweeter as we Continue to Address Its Bitternesscsudhbulletin December 2, 2021 0 COMMENTS
The Loza’s family gathers every year to give grace, spend time together but this year was the first time their celebration was made up of fewer family members because of distance.
By Jesus Loza, Staff Reporter
A little over a week ago, I was sitting at my family’s table celebrating a holiday that, like many, feels bittersweet. Thanksgiving or “Dia de Accion de Gracias,” as my family refers to it, has always been one of my favorite holidays to celebrate for as long as I can remember because it is the one day of the year where all my family and I get together to give grace and thank God for the things we have. Even though Thanksgiving is known for a day to give grace to many, it has a completely different meaning because of its actual history.
Every fourth Thursday of November, I feel excited to share a nice warm meal with my loved ones and reflect on the year and all the wonderful things we accomplished in the last twelve months. Although this holiday for me is about family and love, I also know it carries a completely different connotation because of its origin, which in the core of it, has much more to do with genocide, colonization than giving graces.
Although this is true, this holiday is a special one for me, especially because of the meaning my family has given it. My family and I like to start off the dinner with a little speech, where we all briefly say what we are thankful for. This year, when it was my time to speak I said, I was thankful for having perfect health, having a warm bed to sleep in, and having a roof over my head. Another common thing that not only my family mentioned, but that I’m sure many other families as well, was surviving and recovering from COVID-19. My family and I contracted the virus last summer and we were left with post COVID-19 symptoms but I’m grateful that all my family and friends are now in perfect health.
Many individuals have the concept installed within them about the pilgrims of Plymouth, which were also English colonizers and the Wampanoag native people, who were Indigenous groups in Massachusetts, sitting down together sharing a meal and giving grace. From an early age, and all through K-12 education, we were taught that the Plymouth and the Wampanoag natives got along, which is true to some extent because they had a treaty together at one point, but that treaty was violated years later.
The sad truth is that the Indigenous people of these lands were stripped away from their land, something that saddens me and makes me think twice about this holiday. I sympathize with the Indigenous people that were forced to surrender and see their land getting exploited by those stripping them away from their native land.
Esmeralda Torres, a freshman majoring in criminal justice at CSUDH explains how she too, doesn’t necessarily celebrate the holiday, but still gives grace.
“I don’t really celebrate it, because I learned a lot about the Native American history, but [my family] just eats and gives thanks, but we don’t think about the actual holiday,” said Torres.
Having a greater consciousness about the truth behind Thanksgiving is not something rare, in fact as people and generations grow older, many have disassociated the holiday with Thanksgiving and instead focus on the family and reunion aspect of it.
For Deandre Gimeno, a clinical science major, this holiday is simply a time to get together with family, “It’s a nice way to just have a big feast with family members, it’s a nice way to bond with people that you love and to be grateful for a lot of things,” he said.
Although people celebrate Thanksgiving differently, I think it is important to acknowledge its history and be more vigilant about the true meaning of Thanksgiving and educate ourselves on the subject, and at the same time, I know the importance of being grateful and also believe in giving grace for the things we are blessed with.