Essay written by TNSM parent and Diversity and Community Engagement Committee member – Portia Dyrenforth
Thanksgiving confuses me as a parent. I love the traditions of feasting and being with loved ones. I know the myths that I was taught about the “First Thanksgiving” are wrong and harmful. I am unsure how to combine these two perspectives to explain and celebrate appropriately with small children. So far, I have tended to focus on the “thanks” part of the holiday. I know from my background as a research psychologist that gratitude is a surprisingly strong predictor of well-being. So, gratitude seems a safe and healthy way to focus our family’s attention on Thanksgiving. And yet, I realize that I am glossing over the tough and important parts that I want my children to learn.
This year I am focusing my gratitude on the teachers and social justice mentors that are helping me learn about the things I don’t even know that I don’t know. I am grateful that the internet and social media allow me direct access to voices that I have not yet heard. Even during this time of social distancing, I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from and support the work of Indigenous authors and organizers. Along these lines, I share two excellent resources collected by the Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition and by the First Nations Development Institute. I am thankful for their work, gathering book suggestions for all ages and for their guidance as I read and learn a little more.