Humble Thanks - Reflection by Nelson, Tsedaqah Community Member


Read Nelson's reflection for Thursday, 3 December, 2020.

Thanksgiving Day in the United States is among my favourites. Primarily because of the imperative of stuffing one’s self silly with turkey, mashed potatoes, vegetables, gravy, stuffing, pumpkin pie. And while my father usually takes over the television for the traditional watching of the (American) football games, I can happily digest dinner and have a break from life for a long weekend, or spend time with any visiting relatives we may have around.

The holiday was invented rather late--by President Abraham Lincoln around the time of the Civil War—in order to provide a fractured nation the opportunity to focus on the unified ideal of the United States’ birth with the arrival of the Separatist Puritan Colonists in 1620 sharing a meal with the Native American tribes who had befriended and helped the European arrivals.

I don’t think we should use Thanksgiving as a celebration of the utopian inevitability of the United States. The holiday’s establishment is testament to a peaceful meal shared on Plymouth Plantation that day, but the peace lasted about fifty years before bloody conflict would claim many lives, among the first in a long history of betrayal, abuse, violence, and murder of Native Americans by white Europeans.

Instead, Thanksgiving can be a time for the actual giving of thanks for the abundance that many have. I am incredibly thankful for my newfound UK family and friends that I’ve been able to make here. (And you can see the dinner that my housemate Ian, his girlfriend Catherine, and I were able to cook up last week in the photo above)!

Most importantly, the holiday ought to be used for a moment of national humility. To engender an attitude of repentance for the atrocity committed by and in the name of the United States of people of colour, especially Native populations, as I have argued elsewhere (

If Thanksgiving were to signify a time of national humility, repentance, and reconciliation, we might have on our hands a holiday worth the fuss: if it can be the catalyst for helping those who need help, the sick treated, and the naked clothed, and the hungry fed.

That would be a holiday to be thankful for.


Residential Tsedaqah Community Member

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