By Karen Carnabucci, LCSW, TEP
Here in the United States, Thanksgiving Day is our designated day of expressing gratitude.
Native American activists remind us that stories told about the first Thanksgiving – along with the Pilgrim hats and feather headdresses stapled from construction paper that children wear in elementary school skits – often continue to perpetuate harmful stereotypes, racism and a retelling of history that isn’t exactly true.
There’s a burgeoning movement in certain parts of our country to set the record straight on the facts of Thanksgiving along with indigenous peoples claiming their history, special foods and traditions. Sometimes people call
it Decolonize Thanksgiving, and you can find some of the writings on that movement here.
I am thankful for this movement and thankful for that I, as a white person, am learning more about it. It is not pretty or fun to read about genocide and the pain of a culture. But it is always good to understand the experiences of other people more fully and deeply. In learning about others’ stories, we are able to connect with other people, even people quite different from ourselves, more deeply. We also discover our shared stories, the ways we are more alike than different.
This holiday season, we are sending cards designed by artist Jen Bloomer, who creatives activist art and community murals, including murals of ancestors. You may have seen her art on calendars and cards from the Syracuse Cultural Workers, one of my favorite activist sites.
The card, in lovely browns, blues and golds, says: “When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher wall.”
In one of her blog articles s, the artist addresses the turmoil and trouble that has visited our world, lives and psyches in the past several years and says:
“I realize I need to create more balance by taking one step away from defensively responding to what I don’t like in the world, and taking a large steps towards creating ways to spread what I DO want the world to be like - warm, embracing, connected, creative and community oriented.”
Community, I believe, is the key word here. Thanksgiving isn’t about the size of the turkey, the spread of the food or the number of guests you have or don’t have at your table. Nor is it about Black Friday sales, and certainly not the materialistic distortion of the new trend of Thanksgiving Day sales.
It’s about community. It is one more day to express gratitude that we have one more invitation to create more inclusion in our lives, to reach out and include people who are different than us, and to hear more stories about others’ lives and experiences and share our own.
For my Thanksgiving gift to you, I share these free coloring pages, designed by Jen Bloomer: Build a Longer Table, Cultivate Creativity and Join Together.
They are free and you can download, print and share them here.
Happy coloring and happy Thanksgiving Day to you.
Karen Carnabucci, LCSW, TEP, is an author, trainer and psychotherapist who promotes, practices and teaches experiential methods including psychodrama, Family and Systemic Constellations, sand tray, mindfulness and Tarot imagery.