A couple of Thanksgivings ago -- driving back to the western suburbs from Chicago -- I got caught in a major traffic backup on I-88. My first thought was how awful that someone had been in an accident on this day of family gatherings.
But as we inched along, finally getting close to our exit at Farnsworth, we realized we were trapped in the Black Friday mob lining up for the midnight opening of the outlet mall. Then I got really annoyed.
I won’t say that I don’t enjoy shopping from time to time, and I’m also not beyond looking for excuses to escape holiday family affairs. But the commercialization of these end-of-year holidays, coupled with our insatiable consumerism, is just … gross.
Some of us will consciously abstain from shopping this Friday – either out of protest, or abhorrence of pushy crowds.
And consider this: The day after Thanksgiving has another designation. It’s Native American Heritage Day, an apt time to clear up any lingering myths involving idyllic gatherings of America’s indigenous people and the European immigrants.
When I dig into the history of the First Thanksgiving, I totally get why many Native Americans use this day as one of protest, activism, and remembrance of long ago ancestors. Long before the U.S. government declared Thanksgiving a holiday, Native Americans from the Eastern Woodland areas, where we now reside, were celebrating the harvest season.
I hope we can all take time this holiday to be thankful and also thoughtful about the history we share and the history we’re making.
I’m Paula Garrett, and that’s my perspective.