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Life Lessons from Melissa: When giving thanks, remember why we're here

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There is football, my dad’s “eating pants,” food, my “eating pants” and jellied cranberry sauce (which is delicious but not really food). It is a day full of family, laughter and snide remarks about my family that result in laughter and naps.

It is also the one of the few holidays that is not centered on a religious celebration, which allows for the inclusion of everyone: perfect, right?

Well, not quite.

It seems like something so wonderful should be conceived from something equally as wonderful, but sadly, this is not the case for my beloved Turkey Day. We all know (at least partially) the story of the first Thanksgiving: Squanto, the Pawtuxet Native American that rallied his tribe to help the newly arrived colonists recover from a brutal 1620 winter, was thanked by William Bradford with a shared feast at the first Thanksgiving in 1621.

Sadly, it wasn’t all sunshine and squashes for the Native Americans. Our founding fathers and mothers oppressed and literally removed them from the land they had resided on for centuries within a matter of decades.

The pilgrims slaughtered, raped and pillaged until the Native Americans were left to either assimilate or die. Not exactly the Precious-Moments-cherub-faced white boy hugging the smiling and well-nourished Native American girl.

Of course, there were exceptions to the belligerently racially charged violence, and extenuating circumstances do occasionally apply. Ultimately, however, we are able to eat our weight in stuffing each year because the first Americans were racist and brutal.

So this year, I will enjoy my pumpkin pie as much as the next gluttonous feast-er, but the whipped cream will be tinged with a bitter taste of guilt.

Thanksgiving should be a day to remember the innumerable sacrifices that were made to make this country what it is (good and bad) and to show respect for the lives lost at the hands of the power-hungry, yet brave and persistent, adventurers who created it.

The conundrum that is Thanksgiving should be celebrated with an air of solemn remembrance (and appreciation, of course) — not a contrived image of peace that serves as nothing more than an insult to the real meaning of Thanksgiving.

Melissa Knueven is a junior studying communication and a columnist for The Post. Feast with her at 


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