Happy Thanksgiving dear Amsterdam News readers. Each year we dedicate a special day to gather with friends and family, make traditional meals, and give thanks for the abundance in our lives. Each year it seems like more and more folks are spending their Thanksgiving with friends and creating a multi-cultural, multi-generational “Friendsgiving.” No matter how you celebrate or who you celebrate with, here is to hoping you have a relaxing holiday season.
For some, Thanksgiving season is a time to reflect on all of the sacrifices of our fellow Native Americans. For millions of Native Americans who represent hundreds of diverse tribes, Thanksgiving is not a celebration but a reminder of the ways the U.S. government sought to actively destroy their culture, their way of life, and their sheer existence. Therefore, included in the blessings of the food, many families are now actively choosing to reflect on the Native American struggles and the shared humanity of the rich cultures that came before us on this land.
As we sit down to eat on Thanksgiving, some of us will enjoy the fruits of our labor and creativity in the form of new dishes and recipes. Some of us will use the recipes of our parents and grandparents in order to (re)create traditional dishes that have been passed down across time, place, and changing family dynamics.
Each year I ask my students which dish they are most looking forward to eating on Thanksgiving. The myriad of responses always warms my heart. My students represent so many different cultures and the way they make the holiday their own is truly a testament to the diversity of America. I tell my students about my excitement for all of the meats my father smokes on the grill. Rain, snow, sleet, or shine, he will slow smoke the turkey, lamb roast, lamb lollipops, and salmon on the grill. My students then tell me about the various pies, potatoes, lasagna, or tandoori dishes they are looking forward to digesting with friends and family.
The memories of food and time with loved ones are a sheer delight for most. I also respect the fact that for many of my students (and people more broadly), time with family can be stressful, the abundance of food can be triggering, and the holiday season can bring on a certain level of depression for many. If the holiday season does not fill you with joy and excitement, it’s important to reach out to those who care for you and let them know how they can help you move through this season.
As 2019 comes to a close, it is imperative we take stock of all of the abundance that surrounds us, the incredible friends and family near and far, past and present, and our ability to make the most of the last few weeks of the year.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC.