Once Again…

November 24, 2011 at 10:17 am (Uncategorized) (, )

…I shall post a previously posted post.  In honor of the holiday, I present the truth about Thanksgiving:

When I was an undergrad, I took quite a few courses in Native American History.  I thought it were fascinating and I was simply astounded at the things I didn’t know about the history of America.  For instance, did you know that in 1969 a group of Native Americans from many different tribes came together to occupy Alcatraz Island?  The Sioux Treaty of 1868 stated that all abandoned or unused federal land adjacent to the Sioux Reservation could be reclaimed by descendants of the Sioux Nation, and reclaim that land was what the Native Americans did.  They occupied the island for nineteen months and nine days, and this was something I was never taught about in history class.

Of course, there are many things that are simply glossed over in any given classroom full of young white students.  The history behind the very first Thanksgiving happens to be one of these things.  As a disclaimer, if you don’t want your rosy idea of Pilgrims and Indians laughing and sharing over a giant turkey to be forever altered, you should probably quit reading now and come back another day.  I know my posts are usually full of humor and wit, but this one will be a bit more serious.  Consider me Wednesday at her Thanksgiving Day pageant.

If you do a simple internet search for the true story of Thanksgiving, you’ll come up with a totally different story than the one that’s reenacted every year in elementary school gymnasiums all over the country.  Ready to learn what’s not so easy to explain to a bunch of five-year olds?

“In 1637 near present-day Groton, Connecticut, over 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe had gathered for their annual Green Corn Festival (which is now our Thanksgiving celebration). In the predawn hours the sleeping Indians were surrounded by English and Dutch mercenaries who ordered them to come outside.  Those who came out were shot or clubbed to death while the terrified women and children who huddled inside the longhouse were burned alive.”

Gruesome, right?  Here’s what the Governor of Massachusetts Bay colony had to say the next day:

“A day of Thanksgiving, thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children.”  It was then signed into law that, “This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots.”

Doesn’t exactly give you the warm fuzzies, does it?  Well, it’s history and history isn’t always pretty.  Here’s more:

“Cheered by their “victory”, the brave colonists and their Indian allies attacked village after village. Women and children over 14 were sold into slavery while the rest were murdered.  Boats loaded with a many as 500 slaves regularly left the ports of New England. Bounties were paid for Indian scalps to encourage as many deaths as possible.

Following an especially successful raid against the Pequot in what is now  Stamford, Connecticut, the churches announced a second day of “thanksgiving” to celebrate victory over the heathen savages.  During the feasting, the hacked off heads of Natives were kicked through the streets like soccer balls.  Even the friendly Wampanoag did not escape the madness. Their chief was beheaded, and his head impaled on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts — where it remained on display for 24 years.

The killings became more and more frenzied, with days of thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre. George Washington finally suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre. Later Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving Day to be a legal national holiday during the Civil War — on the same day he ordered troops to march against the starving Sioux in Minnesota.”

Grisly indeed.  I’m not trying to ruin your Thanksgiving or turn you against your country or anything like that.  As you can see from my last post, I’m quite thankful that I live where I do.  I’m unable, though, to give thanks properly without thinking about the true history of the holiday.  It’s only fair the Native Americans get the respect they deserve, and I like to think that Wednesday Addams would agree with me.

*Special thanks to the following websites, which provided me with valuable information and amazing quotes:

Alcatraz Island Occupation:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupation_of_Alcatraz

http://www.pbs.org/itvs/alcatrazisnotanisland/timeline.html

The Real Thanksgiving:

http://www.manataka.org/page269.html

http://www.republicoflakotah.com/2009/cooking-the-history-books-the-thanksgiving-massacre/

http://longstreet.typepad.com/thesciencebookstore/2009/07/jf-ptak—-the-great-mystery-was-how-those–indians-were-smuggled-out-of-the-grave-in-spite-of-the-watchfulness-of-those–gu.html

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Thinking of Thanks

November 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

This is a super short week as I fly out of town early Wednesday for another Deep Fried Southern Thanksgiving in Louisiana.  However before I go, I thought I’d take a minute and jump on the bandwagon of bloggers giving thanks.  I have quite a bit going for me and while I try to be thankful every day of the year, devoting a bit of internet space to pay tribute a little more never hurt anyone.  And yes, I know they’re all pretty standard but if you don’t feel like reading, I’m sure there’s another website out there somewhere that can occupy you until my next post.

  • Family: I have a super awesome family and while they don’t all live near each other, it’s nice knowing they’re around.  My mom, sister and myself get along especially well (when we spend less than or equal to 5 days together) and my dad is still kicking cancer’s ass so that’s great too.  All four of my grandparents are still as healthy and with-it as they’ve ever been and the aunts, uncles and cousins are holding their own as well.  I’m thankful for all of that much like I’m thankful that I’ll always be prettier than my sister.
  • Friends: I also have some pretty rad friends.  True, a handful of very close ones departed the Chicago area this year and that sucks pretty majorly but I’m still in contact with them all and hope to see each of them in the next few months.  I have friends who are inspiring, smart and supremely interesting and I’m lucky to have such phenomenal people in my life.  Quite a few of them are scattered all over the place but we’ve maintained relationships for years and I don’t think they’re going anywhere anytime soon.  So I’m thankful I have too many friends to make friendship bracelets for (because my fingers would tire and my hands would fall off).
  • Health: Having family members battle chemotherapy and kidney transplants makes me realize just how good I’ve got it in the health department.  I had a brief worry earlier this year that resulted in a few mammograms but everything is now hunky dory and as long as I’m free from hospitals, I’m happy.  Better than that, I’m healthy!
  • Employment: I’m extremely grateful to have a job, since I know many under and unemployed people who don’t.  My job allows me to eat and pay my bills and also lets me enjoy the view of Chicago along Lake Michigan each and every time I come into the office.  I’ve made some good friends here and the place treats me well so I’m thankful for a reason to get up and dressed every day.  Or rather, I’m thankful for a steady paycheck.  I’m also thankful for health insurance (though just how thankful I am about this will be determined after my dentist appointment this afternoon).
  • Hobbies: I’m lucky enough to be involved with more than one outside-of-work activity that I enjoy and I’m thankful to still be a part of so many things.  I’m still a staff writer for an entertainment magazine in Indiana, I regularly volunteer at the awesome food pantry, I’m still a part of a fun and entertaining book club, I’m learning more as a Docent at The Field Museum (and just turned in the draft for my very first public tour!) and I am thisclose to finishing my certificate in Museum Studies through Northwestern.  Not to mention all those cookies I bake from scratch and pass out to the people in Sears Tower…yeah just kidding about that.  But I’m thankful I’m able to stay involved in so many things I enjoy while not completely losing my mind.
  • Catsby: I’m thankful I had her for 8 years.  It wasn’t long enough but I’ll always be grateful that I got to know such a quirky, cool little cat.
  • Travel: I’m thankful I’m able to get out and about so much.  I wasn’t kidnapped and held for ransom in Guatemala so that was nice and I’ll be enjoying sunshine and warmth in New Orleans by the end of the week.  In fact, I’m so thankful for my upcoming sandal-wearing weather that I almost devoted this entire blog to it.  YOU should be thankful that I didn’t.
  • Boyfriend: This is the first year in the last few that I’ve had a significant other to be thankful for.  While this romance has progressed a little more quickly than what I’ve been used to in the past (and as cliché and trite as this sounds), it just feels right.  I’m having a lot of fun living with my boyfriend and things are going very well in that department.  I’m thankful he’s a part of my life.  I’m also forever thankful he was a part of Catsby’s life when she needed someone the most.

Obviously, I’ve got a lot that’s worth giving thanks over.  And while I may not be praying to God or Buddha or anyone in particular, I am grateful that the universe has aligned in such a way that I’ve been given what I’ve got.  Sure, things might not always be so rosy but I know that in the grand scheme of things, I’ve got it better than most.

Like the American Indians who got truly screwed in this whole Thanksgiving thing.  Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the origin of the holiday and you can bet your stuffing I’ll be re-posting the true history later this week.  Until then, be thankful you’re not a turkey!

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Giving Thanks – Day Four

November 25, 2010 at 12:37 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

I have an awesome family.  Excuse me while I brag.

My mom is one of six children, most of whom have children of their own.  I have seven cousins on her side and I’m pretty close with all of them.  We grew up together, enjoying time with Zelda, the Mario Brothers and Barbie.  We played hide and seek in the dark basement and explored the woods whenever we could.  We still enjoy each others company now but it usually involves an adult beverage or two instead of a video game console…although sometimes the gaming gets back in there too.  My mom’s brothers and sisters are also pretty great and their parents, my grandparents, are two of my favorite people. We’re all still pretty close and with the exception of myself and one aunt, everyone still lives within about an hour of one another.  I know that if I ever needed anything, my family would have my back.  They might make fun of me for being a vegetarian hippie but I know their heart is in the right place.  Oh, and my mom?  Well if you’ve read enough of this blog you know I think she’s pretty much the raddest mom ever.  My sister is pretty great too…at least, most of the time.

Yeah, they pretty much rule

Currently, I’m spending some quality time with the paternal, more Southern side of my family.  My dad has one brother and one sister and I have three cousins from my aunt.  One cousin has an 8-year-old boy, so I’ve been playing football for two days.  I don’t get to see this side of my family but once a year (you guessed it, at Thanksgiving) and so we try to make the most of it while we can.  Luckily, my cousins are all around my age and there’s a little local bar that allows us to catch up in the most appropriate way.  My grandparents on this side are pretty great as well but due to the geographic nature of our relationship, I simply don’t know them as well as I would like.  No matter, we’re all able to sit around a fire pit and tell stories all night long anyway.  I always value the time I get down here because it is so limited – plus, the cooking pretty much beats anything I can whip up in my own kitchen.  In fact, as soon as I finish this here post I’m hitting the kitchen to help begin the big Thanksgiving Day Meal prep.  I might not eat turkey but I load up on casseroles, potatoes, pies and anything else lying around.  And I’ve got my sweatpants set out so I’m officially ready.

I know I’m extremely lucky to have grown up so close with so much of my family and the older I get, the more I realize how rare having such great relatives can be.  I hate hearing stories of crappy family situations and it just makes me want to adopt those people who have to deal with that and introduce them to the wonderful craziness I get to enjoy.  So if you’re one of those who wishes you could spend your holidays elsewhere, let me know and I’ll drag you along with me next time.  You can eat my portion of the turkey.

On a side note, if you’re interested in the real history behind today’s holiday, check out this post I wrote from last year.  It’s not very pretty but it is fairly factual.

If you just want to laugh, check out awkwardfamilyphotos.com.  I thought of using one of those pics in today’s post but there were just too many to choose from, so if you want to take a look before you slip into a food coma, be my guest.

Now it’s time to help the host get the table set.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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Giving Thanks

November 23, 2009 at 3:15 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Today seems as good a day as any to count my blessings.  It’s Thanksgiving week and on Wednesday I will be flying to Baton Rouge to experience the holiday with the southern side of my family (this trip will be entertaining enough to warrant a completely separate post, which I will create at a later date).  As I prepare for my trip, I’m reminded of my Thanksgiving last year…you know, before I was dumped.  My ex was with me on the trip so of course I’ll be thinking about that this week, as much as I don’t really want to (it’s funny how those thoughts you try to steer clear of like to pop into your head at the most inopportune times).  I’m trying to stay positive but it’s not so easy when your heart was recently treated like a cheap pinata.  In an attempt to look on the bright side, here are some of the things that, even when I’m down, I’m still really and truly thankful for.

My family is a far cry from the Brady Bunch but I still think they’re pretty great.  I grew up surrounded by my mom’s many brothers and sisters, not to mention my grandparents and all of my cousins.  I think we’re pretty close and I really look at my cousins as additional siblings who I don’t have to buy birthday presents for.  My actual sibling is pretty cool too, although it took me many years and numerous fights and a broken arm to believe it.  My mom is probably the best mom on the planet and I really do think I lucked out in that department.  My cousins and grandparents on my dad’s side are pretty great too, though I only see them once a year.  My dad…well, if you really know me then you’re aware I have a lot to say on this subject.  My dad is a better father than many men, but he is certainly not the guy I grew up believing he was.

I’m still incredibly lucky to have them all.  Both sets of my grandparents have been married for over 50 years and all four of them are relatively healthy and still quite “with it”, well into their 80’s.  So it looks like I’ve good genes to be thankful for too!  Really though, my grandparents are especially dear to me because they have taught me valuable lessons about what it means to be a family.  So, every day I’m super thankful for all of these people.

I’m also extremely thankful for my amazing friends.  This break-up has really proven to me that I have fabulous people in my life who care about me, even if we’re not related.  They may not all be close but I know they’re there for me if and when I need them.  I’m also meeting some pretty cool cats here in the city and I’m excited to hang out with them more as well.  The more the merrier, right?  Right.

I’m also thankful for my job.  I may feel like this poor woman at times, but I’ve got a solid position that I don’t totally hate.  I’m also good at it, because managing an office seems to agree with my organized nature.  I get along well with the people that I work with (and I know how rare that is) and there’s often enough down time to allow me to play on the internets and post blogs when I want.  It’s not always exciting but I do see the difference in the kids that come to our learning center, and that’s really rewarding.  When you see a child suffering from low self esteem because they lack the proper reading skills for someone their age, only to watch them learn and grow and leave our program with a new attitude towards life…yeah, it makes it worth getting out of bed at 6am and dealing with the commute.  Usually.  But really, I remember the two month period after I moved up here when I was unemployed, and I remember how horribly awful that felt.  I’m so glad I have a job that allows me to pay my bills.

I know this is a post about being thankful, but I want to take just a moment and lament the whole paying bills thing.  I kinda sorta hate it, and it’s when I’m writing checks for things like electricity that I realize sometimes being a grown up sucks.  But there’s more to be thankful for!

Paying bills may not be fun but it enables me to have things like this:

What’s that, you say?  A tree?  A door?  Well actually this is the google street view to my apartment building.  I’m not worried about some crazy stalker hunting me down because this looks just like hundreds of other apartment buildings in the city.  The difference is this is my apartment, and after spending 9 months living with my ex and his parents, I know what a truly glorious thing this is.  I’m thankful I have an entire refridgerator all to myself.  I’m thankful I can walk around naked and dance to records while eating cold pizza and chugging soda from the bottle.  Most of all, I’m thankful to have my own place.  Well technically I guess I share it with Catsby…I guess I should really get on her about her half of the rent.  I’m even thankful I have a freeloading cat.

I’m also VERY thankful for my health.  It seems to be something we take for granted a lot, and I really try not to.  I know how lucky I am to simply be able to take care of myself and move around freely and not have any sort of medical condition that makes living day to day life any harder than it already is.  I’m thankful I’m as strong if not stronger than Rosie the Riveter.  I’m thankful I have health insurance, so if I do get sick I will (hopefully) not go into mass amounts of debt over medical bills.  I’m also extremely thankful that, for the most part at least, all of my friends and family are healthy as well.  Seriously, it’s kind of a big deal and I try not to forget it!

Other things I’m thankful for, in no particular order:

Being female; living in a country that allows me religous and intellectual freedom, even as a female; books and my ability to read them; ice cream; classic rock; the color yellow; having a cat that is waiting at the door for me every night when I come home even if she doesn’t contribute financially; my boobs (we’ve been through a lot together and I happen to think they’re pretty great); the big giant bed and living room couches I managed to get for free; wine; my cell phone and the fact it enables me to keep in contact with those I love; getting free beer at a bar; readily available vegetarian food; the DVD boxset of my favorite show of all time (name withheld to protect my reputation); cheese and my pajama’s.  There are many more things I’m thankful for, but I think this list is enough to get me through the rest of the week.  Ultimately I’m thankful that I’m me, because I think I’m pretty awesome – and I have the blog to prove it!

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