Suffering the Gift: Decolonizing the Holidays

winslowBy Luke Winslow, a re-post from The Seattle School blog

Which story? Whose thanks?

In the days surrounding Thanksgiving, I was practicing mindful listening to Native and indigenous activists whom I follow on social media. As a kind of bookend to the emotional harm Native American communities re-experience every fall when the dominant culture still acknowledges days like Columbus Day (rather than its increasing replacement, Indigenous Peoples’ Day), followed by the colonial version of Thanksgiving, I find myself searching for language weeks later for how to translate what I’m hearing back to my own communities.

Although each holiday focuses on different themes (one could say, American and Christian identity formation, respectively), perhaps Thanksgiving and Christmas need to be viewed together, not separately, that with a retrospective, deconstructive view we can look at the ways these holidays mutually inform how and what we celebrate at the end of the year. In short, what does giving thanks and giving gifts mean in the specific context of—for we white and settler communities—being guests on stolen land? Continue reading