Thanksgiving candles by tychay, http://www.flickr.com/photos/tychay/2132271847/
My family didn't come over with the Pilgrims to take land from the Indians, but they also weren't pushed onto slave ships and brought here against their will.
Like many immigrants before, during and after the two world wars, my East European relatives came to America to escape conscription in the Army, to avoid being killed in pogroms by Cossacks, and to get away from the grinding poverty and lack of education their overlords prescribed. And like many immigrant families, my grandparents - and their children - were quick to take up American traditions like Thanksgiving, when big tables full of family and food celebrate the colonization of America.
It's customary for my family to celebrate the holiday - I'm in Los Angeles with family as I write this - but it's also become a moment charged with sadness because as much as I know how much we have to be thankful for, I also know this is not really the right day to celebrate that.
Thanksgiving, after all, is really a celebration of a time when white men with guns came upon an indigenous people and took their land, cheated them and ultimately drove them away from their homelands. And, as we all know, the diseases that the white men gave the native Americans - including syphilis and influenza - decimated their ranks. Thanks, settlers.
For many of my friends in Oakland, Thanksgiving is a celebration of the conquest and murder of Native Americans by European settlers and a day of atonement is better called for. For others, Thanksgiving is a day to go out to Alcatraz Island to remember the Occupation of Alcatraz by Indians of All Tribes.
And of course, for many of us, Thanksgiving is both the go bell on a massive attack of American materialism and corporate-manipulated spending and a moment to step back and resolve - whether for the first time or for the 100th time - to shop locally, support small business, and remember that time and care are superior to things as gifts.
For everyone who works at Oakland Local, Thanksgiving is a chance to listen and hear what our city is saying and to reflect that back to you. What we're hearing is a huge resolve to shop locally and to celebrate local small business - and an understanding that this is a way we can empower one another.
Using tools like the Explore Oakland card to eat in local restaurants and make a matched donation to Great Oakland Public Schools and the Oakland Grown card to spend money with local merchants who are participating in the program is a first step toward all of us supporting one another.
What I'd like to be thankful for this holiday season is to see my neighbors, friends and colleagues continue to consciously hire one another, spend money with one anthers' businesses and donate to local nonprofits that support causes and projects they believe in (including Oakland Local).
I'd like to see established organizations behave with grace and compassion toward newcomers to the Town, and have people join together to operate in a spirit of abundance, not in the spirit of scarcity that has sometimes scuttled even very good projects in Oakland.
If you're looking for ways to make conscious choices around supporting local business and causes this holiday season - and every day, for that matter - some resources to look at include the following web sites and programs:
Also stay tuned for Oakland Local's continued coverage of shopping local and local small business, and of the nonprofits in our town.
For a look at past coverage of Thanksgiving, check out http://oaklandlocal.com/tags/thanksgiving
And for an advance look at the invite to OL's holiday party and first annual Community Voices Awards program on Dec. 12 at Tamarindo in Old Oakland, sponsored by Marqeta, look here: http://communityvoicesawards.eventbrite.com/#
Have a great day and enjoy some photos from past holidays shared on Flickr by your fellow Oaklanders. If you have photos from this holiday you'd like to share, send links to them to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Holiday" in the subject line.
BONUS IMAGES: Oakland Thanksgivings on Flickr: