The note below recently followed students home in their backpacks from an elementary school…
Dear Parent / Caregiver,
In respect to all of our students, please note that we will no longer be celebrating the holidays of Halloween and Valentine’s Day at school. Thank you for keeping your child’s Halloween costume at home.
In recognition of the individual cultures and lifestyles of their students, many schools are rethinking how and if they should be acknowledging holidays and events that were a given in the era of their student’s parents and caregivers. Gone, are the days of children parading through the hallways in Batman and witches’ costumes. And to help alleviate children from feeling excluded, mailboxes made from decorating shoeboxes to hold Valentine’s Day cards are now a distant memory.
It’s the next step in what is sometimes unjustly being labeled as Cancel Culture. It wasn’t that long ago when schools acknowledged that Christopher Columbus didn’t really discover America, since the country was already inhabited by Indigenous People wrongly labeled by white Europeans as Indians.
Which brings us to the topic of Thanksgiving. What was once a day to celebrate the coming-together of Pilgrims and Indians, is now a holiday in question, as we learn and recognize that this story is for the most part fictitious, overriding the truth in what was more likely the hostile arrival of people invading the land of Native Americans.
But acknowledging that Thanksgiving is currently a flawed holiday should not stop us from celebrating a day centered around “putting down our weapons” and gathering around the kitchen table for great food and conversation. We need to absolutely recognize and celebrate the true first inhabitants of our country and we should welcome the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Unlike with Christmas, another holiday that embraces family gatherings, Thanksgiving comes without the commercial trappings of artificial Christmas trees and the need to power-shop on Amazon for the latest tech gadgets and toys.
After all, Halloween is just a silly holiday that has morphed from children going door-to-door in search of Snickers bars to grownups throwing elaborate costume parties and front lawns lit up like Christmas. And Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a faux holiday powered by Hallmark, florists, and department stores, encouraging us to buy jewelry and grossly overpriced roses. Perhaps, it’s time we take a step forward and take Thanksgiving in its literal context. A time for Thanks.
Thanksgiving is a holiday that can and should survive the Cancel Culture movement. As schoolbooks are rewritten to tell the true story of Indigenous People, let us celebrate our true first inhabitants of America. And let Thanksgiving continue to be a time when we gather with our family – without the wrapped gifts and without inflatable reindeer on the front lawn. Just turkey legs, stuffing, and love. And football.
Now, if we can just get rid of Black Friday…
Heidi McCrary is a writer and a regular contributor to Moxie Magazine. Her novel, Chasing North Star is available at Kazoo Books, This is a Bookstore, and online wherever books are sold. Follow Heidi at heidimccrary.net and facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor