So much is different this year. We continue to live through a devastating global pandemic and economic crisis that has impacted us all, in ways large and small. We are amidst an awakening to racial injustice. And, we just completed one of the most consequential elections of our lifetimes.
As we prepare to celebrate another Thanksgiving holiday, the pandemic has reached record proportions that are hard to comprehend. If there is anything we have learned in this last year, it is that we cannot return to the status quo or the ways of operating that have allowed for such disparities in health and wellbeing.
Children’s Health Fund stands firmly with the families and children most harmed by this pandemic and the job loss, food insecurity, and loss of life it has caused.
With them in mind, these are the values that I’m carrying with me this holiday.
Celebrating Safely: This pandemic has proven that what affects one of us affects us all. While we all miss gathering with our loved ones, we strongly encourage you to follow the CDC’s COVID-19 safety guidelines for the Thanksgiving holiday. For your safety and the safety of those more at risk than you, please wear a mask in public and only celebrate with those in your household.
Being True to History: Our society tells a narrow tale about the origins of Thanksgiving, one that obscures the oppression of indigenous Americans at the core of this nation’s founding. Misconceptions, stereotypes, and appropriation have been employed to celebrate this holiday, impacting the way indigenous people, particularly children, see themselves, their cultures, and their place in the world. And while it is celebrated as a day of gratitude for many people, it is also recognized as a day of mourning for many Native people. This reality is even more troubling when we consider that Native communities are now experiencing some of the highest rates of COVID-19.
As we have stated recently about healing and racial justice, the first step is to acknowledge that harm has been done. This means reckoning with uncomfortable and painful truths—and being honest with ourselves and loved ones about what Thanksgiving is, and what it is not.
Through this reckoning, we can all move forward and build a society where all lives and all cultures are safe and valued. As you cook with those in your household or connect with loved ones over video calls, consider talking about the other side of this holiday’s history. If you have children, a good place to start is reading books by Native authors and explaining the importance of respecting and honoring all people.
Embodying a Spirit of Gratitude: Uncertainty and pain are magnified during these times. But often through difficulty, our gratitude is also clearer. When so many are struggling and injustices are so stark, acknowledging what we have can motivate us to act with humility and compassion.
For me, this will be a time to be thankful for the frontline health workers, educators, and essential workers who put themselves at risk helping others. As I reflect on their selfless actions, I will reassess how I will work to affect the lives of children and families most impacted by the injustices of our time.