I think this concept of “giving” becoming “getting” has seeped into all major North American holidays. Valentines, Christmas, even Easter has been narrowed down to a list of what you need to buy, who gets what and everything YOU hope to get. Thanksgiving is one of the strangest times for me because A) Turkey makes me sleepy, but I still eat too much of it and B) The whole holiday makes me uncomfortable because of the raw deal the Native American’s got out of the first Thanksgiving.

The weeks leading up to the event is another mad dash to either shop for pounds of food, if you’re hosting, or what to get the host if you’re lucky enough, like I am, to go to my mother-in-law’s every year to get fed. We “get” something for our host or “get” food for our guests, the kids “get” an extra day off school, adults “get” a day off work, we “get” to post on social media all the food we “got”, and we “get” to complain about how much we just HAD to eat…now I’m craving pie…

This idea of reflection on what we are grateful for is lost in a sea of Facebook posts of people looking for pre-cooked turkeys because all the local places are sold out or cute cartoons of dogs and cats dressed as pilgrims. All things that I feel distant from. With four kids, my days of hosting dinner parties is LONG over and when I did host a Thanksgiving dinner, it was a collection of people who didn’t have anywhere to go. Those parties were made up of out of town students renting rooms, people who didn’t have families or were estranged from theirs, people who were broke, artists from other countries, acquaintances who had mentioned they had no where to go and I piped up, “Come to my house!” These dinners were always the most relaxed and appreciated dinners. A mix of personalities with one common connection: they had no where else to go. We weren’t relatives that were forced to be together, we were people who decided to share a meal together and took the time to laugh and learn about each other. I remember how many guests over the years always called before they came, to check if I was really serious about them coming. Yes, you are WANTED! Each would leave, with great hesitation, because they left exclaiming that that had been the best Thanksgiving they’d ever had.

The nostalgic images of Pilgrims makes me squirm as I am not thrilled with the treatment of aboriginal people but more importantly, it’s not my direct history. I’m a first generation Canadian on my father’s side and second generation on my mother’s side. When people say “Look how horrible WE treated the natives” I think, “But, my people just got here.” My own heritage comes from a history of conquer. The reason my Mexican family speaks Spanish, and not their native Aztec language, is because Europeans made it to our shores long before they got to Canada. Therefore, the wounds are fresh here in the North, and the celebration of the arrival of Europeans to any new land sits strangely with me. Conquering, colonizing, it all seems hard to celebrate.

Let’s not forget that when the Pilgrims came, it was the Natives that “gave” to them. They gave them knowledge to live off the land, they gave them a new place to call home…it seems that being on the giving end of things is the fuzzy end of the lollipop. The people who receive get much more out of the exchange. Okay, so maybe I should embrace a little more getting after all! It’s amazing how much better food makes you feel when you read a depressing Newsfeed.
Forget the diet, I’m getting two pieces of pie this “Thanksgetting”. Try to enjoy your holiday with those annoying relatives. Try to pretend they’re just people with no where to go. Probably why the Indians helped the Europeans in the first place. I hoped there was a lot of laughing and learning then too. Now I feel bad for turkeys…and ham…oh dear…more pie please!

About the Author

Stephanie Herrera is a comedian, writer, producer, teacher, singer, actor, mother of 4, and shallow philosopher. She runs the Durham Improv & Acting Studio in Oshawa, Canada, is a professor at Durham and Fleming Colleges, and is an award winning performer.  www.durhamimprov.com / www.stephanieherrera.com / info@durhamimprov.com / (647) 899-3342  Durham Improv Group and Business pages can be found on Facebook and follow @durhamimprov & @antimommy