Thanksgiving.  Oh, yes—the holiday that marks the start of European colonists invading and exterminating thousands of indigenous people in America.  Children are taught in schools that Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks and appreciation—like how the Pilgrims thanked the Native Americans for helping them survive their first harsh winter by inviting them to a feast with turkey, mashed potatoes, and pies.

To many Hmong families today—mine included—Thanksgiving is a time, not necessarily to show appreciation, but for friends and families to get together, cook, and eat.  Thanksgiving falls right around the time Hmong families would be having their peb caug feasts.  So, we cook both “Thanksgiving” food and traditional new year food and celebrate peb caug on or around Thanksgiving.

I have always pitied Thanksgiving.  Poor holiday.  It can’t help that its origin consisted of destructive pillages and bloody massacres of Native Americans.   It can’t help that school officials refuse to discuss its true history to their students. I know that if it was up to Thanksgiving, it will be true to itself and not lie about its origin.

Sometimes, I wonder if it’s because of Thanksgiving’s history that Corporate America tends to neglect it and skip right from Halloween to Christmas.  But then I remember that Corporate America is greed and greed doesn’t have a conscience.

Every year, I am saddened to see Christmas trees, lights, and ornaments (instead of Thanksgiving) replace Halloween decorations and costumes in stores.  This year, I was very surprised to see Christmas stuff being sold in mid-October and Halloween wasn’t even over yet!  (Or maybe it has been happening for years and I’ve just never noticed).  Christmas is starting earlier and earlier each year, while Thanksgiving is pushed into a small dusty corner in all major department stores.

Thanksgiving is like the middle child of Corporate America—born in the middle, not given much attention to.  Why? Because Corporate America cannot make as much money from it as it would from its counter-holidays: Halloween and especially Christmas.  What is there to sell during Thanksgiving besides food?  For Halloween, there is candy, costumes, make up, and decorations—and these things are not cheap—especially for those who go all out during this holiday.  For Christmas, you have Christmas trees (plastic and fresh pine), ornaments, lights, decorations, and—most expensively of all—presents.  Don’t forget the Christmas outdoor decoration battles that neighbors have each year (Christmas Tree Lane).  This is why, Christmas overshadows Thanksgiving (and other holidays as well) all the time.

It also doesn’t help Thanksgiving much that Black Friday is right there with it as well. Instead of celebrating Thanksgiving, some families are getting ready for a cold night of camping out to (literally) fight the crowds for Black Friday deals.

Even if it is neglected by many out there, I will always remember Thanksgiving. Not because of its horrible history, but because, every time it comes around, I am reminded that Hmong New Year is just around the corner.  To me, Thanksgiving and Hmong New Year go hand in hand (yes, in a very weird way).

4 thoughts on “Thanksgiving; The Neglected Holiday

  1. It maybe useful just not to observe how Thanksgiving is promoted/observed by the retail business side or by magazine, tv, etc.

    While true the early settlers had not a great relationship later with the First Nations (that’s how we refere native Indians in Canada), it is easier to celebrate Thanksgiving as celebrating and giving thanks to harvest. Alot of cultures have this type of event.

    So that’s how I and my family have viewed it for a long time. It’s not that we always observed every year, but over the past 2 decades, it’s a great occasion to bring family together which is very important in a highly mobile world…despite the Internet. 🙂

    One great way to feel the harvest/excitement of Thanksgiving is visiting and enjoying local farmers’ markets. I do go to one at least once per week in the past 2 decades. There one observes seasonal changes of veggies and fruits as they are harvested. And with the populariy of farmers’ markets now, it’s even better.

    Do you visit one often?

    My enthusiasm is reflected in a blog post:
    http://thirdwavecyclingblog.wordpress.com/2010/12/03/growing-up-and-cycling-through-the-years-to-farmers%e2%80%99-markets-home-and-abroad/ since when we visit places as tourists we also drop by a local farmers’ market if there is one.

    My partner also used to be a part-time weekend farmer for 10 years ..several head of beef cattle, some pigs and horses. He likes to support farmers by buying their stuff occasasionally.

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    1. I do enjoy going to farmers’ markets, although I don’t go as often as I would like to. My grams also gardens and I visit her once a week to see what she has in her backyard for me to take home. Usually, veggies, squash, herbs, and peppers. And thank you for your input on Thanksgiving. That’s why I stated that Thanksgiving reminds me of Hmong New Year, because during this time of the year, we give thanks to the ancestors and spirits for a good harvest. However, to many, Thanksgiving is about the pilgrims settling in New England.

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  2. Thank you for your post, I love this time of year. Everyone is getting together to spend time catching up after the long year apart. This year is even more exciting then the years prior because my husband and I have our first child to celebrate with. I want to set up for Chirstmas now… but I have to wait till after Thanksgiving 🙂

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  3. thanksgiving is meant for sharing food although there is a large number of people who dont know what horrible thing happened the very next day. i think it is funny not the haha but the sniff sniff and ironic that black friday depicts history. i fear that day the most. how many people have been killed and injured on black friday is just beyond me. back to what i was intentionally going to say thanksgivin is not about decoration so i dont see why there must be things purchased for that day?

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