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We aren't following our usual Black Friday tradition of going hiking, because there's a foot of snow on the ground and S is 8 months pregnant.  Instead we're following our new Black Friday tradition of hanging around the house and writing and yakking and maybe playing chess if we feel really ambitious.  But not acting smug about it, because this article kind of schooled me on the similarities between Black Friday and the Hunger Games.

Both B's and C's schools had 'traditional' Thanksgiving pageants this year and both came home with construction paper "Indian headdresses."  Alas, neither is old enough to emulate Wednesday Adams on the matter.  I was disappointed, because I'd somehow gotten it into my head that, in the decades since I was in elementary school, most places had picked up a clue and stopped doing that.  Apparently not.  Now pondering the best suggestions for alternatives, as every good behaviorist knows that you're more likely to get someone to stop doing something if you can suggest something better in its place.

Option 1: Follow a slightly older tradition.  Go back a hundred years and make Thanksgiving more like Halloween or Carnival.  Dress up and parade through the streets, and put on a wider variety of costumed pageants.  Minus the "dressing as caricatures of other countries and classes" bit.

Option 2: Go back to the holiday's real origins, and put on a pageant about Abraham Lincoln trying to figure out how to heal the country post-Civil-War.  Still problematic, given the general failure to do so in the years since, but more historically accurate and includes the opportunity for everyone to dress up representing their own cultures and talk about how they've contributed to the country.

Option 3: Teach about real cooperation between Europeans and American Indian nations and have kids put on plays about the syncretic communities that sprang up shortly after contact--the ones where plague survivors took in runaway slaves and Europeans who found Puritan life too constrictive, and where "kidnapped" women for some obscure reason refused to go back when their families tried to rescue them.

All historically accurate, and all still fun and positive.  I know there are good reasons to focus on non-positive things on Thanksgiving, but given how most kids' families celebrate they are not going to go for that.  And for families where the holiday really is a rare opportunity for feasting and togetherness, or for people who aren't descended from colonists and aren't benefiting from the current system, pretty seriously not cool anyway.  Guilt-focused curricula that assume everyone is rich and/or white are starting to piss me off almost as much as curricula that just ignore the problematic bits.  Erasing your audience isn't better than erasing history.

Date: 2014-11-28 11:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] heron61.livejournal.com
this article kind of schooled me on the similarities between Black Friday and the Hunger Games.

Indeed, that was uncomfortable but entirely unsurprising reading. Simply the line "Thanksgiving promotions are about necessities that are marked down." is somewhat chilling in and of itself.

I'd somehow gotten it into my head that, in the decades since I was in elementary school, most places had picked up a clue and stopped doing that. Apparently not.

Dear gods, I had no idea that sort of nonsense didn't end 25-30 years ago. I haven't asked either of my two partners (who are both somewhat younger than me) about whether they had those sorts of activities in their schools. Mine most definitely did, but Northern VA schools in the early 70s had more than their share of serious problems with all manner of racial and gender attitudes. I'm hoping that all that is over now, and strongly suspect it is in more progressive states, but fear that in the scarier parts of the US, construction paper "Indian headdresses" are still being made.

Those sort of activities always remind me of a (admittedly vastly less noxious) story a woman in the Wiccan coven I was in when I lived in LA mentioned. One year when Halloween was coming up her young son's teacher asked everyone to draw picture's of witches. Her son drew a picture of her in her white robe and pentacle. Once he'd explained to the teacher why he's drawn what he had, the teacher recovered nicely and immediately asked everyone to draw pictures of jack-o'-lanterns instead.

Date: 2014-11-29 03:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] houseboatonstyx.livejournal.com
Taking the history back further, here's an excerpt from a primary document.

[A]ccording to the manner of the Indians, we manured our ground with herrings [so] we had a good increase of Indian corn

Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming among us, and among the rest their greatest king, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation

Your loving friend,
E. W.
-- Plymouth Colony leader Edward Winslow, 1621

Date: 2014-11-29 05:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] houseboatonstyx.livejournal.com
And from George Washington; an image is at

earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/firsts/thanksgiving/thanksgiving.jpg


By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America
A PROCLAMATION

to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER,

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; [….]

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

Date: 2014-11-29 05:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] houseboatonstyx.livejournal.com
And from George Washington:

By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America
A PROCLAMATION

to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER,

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; [….]

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

LJ will not accept a link to the image.

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