A recipe for tolerance on Thanksgiving

What the first celebration of colonists and native people  symbolized more than anything else was the coming together in peace of people with different languages, different ethnicities, different cultures, and different religions.

U.S. Army soldiers eat Thanksgiving meal in Afghanistan, 2009

U.S. Army Soldiers eat their Thanksgiving meal on Combat Outpost Cherkatah, Khowst province, Afghanistan, Nov. 26, 2009. Photo in public domain; from Wikimedia Commons.

The Europeans were immigrants coming into a new land. It was the native peoples who helped assure their survival through the first winter, taught them much about farming, and celebrated with them their first successful crop.

Although George Washington issued the nation’s first proclamation for a day of Thanksgiving in 1789, it was not until the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, spurred by activist Sara Josepha Hale, that the November celebration was established as an annual national holiday. Lincoln’s proclamation urged all Americans to pray for “all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” These are words to live by.

Today when the drumbeat of hatred and intolerance grows louder, fueling wars worldwide, please use this Thanksgiving  to set aside your own prejudices. With your family and friends, reflect on how a key moment in U.S. history epitomized the principles of acceptance, open-mindedness and peace.

To help you set the table for tolerance, check out the Recipe for Diversity and Teaching Tolerance. And for more information about the history of Thanksgiving as a U.S. national holiday, you might enjoy this video.

Then liven up your menus with some recipes rooted in our historical traditions:
Stewed Pompion (Pumpkin)
Sullabub (a parfait-like precursor to eggnog)

Kathie Malley-Morrison, Professor of Psychology
Pat Daniel, Managing Editor of Engaging Peace

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8 Responses to A recipe for tolerance on Thanksgiving

  1. chari tsatsaroni says:

    Dear Kathie,
    Reading about the Thanksgiving tradition makes me think that people can coexist and share the gifts of life. As human beings living under the same “roof”, we need to find the causes that keep us apart and build bridges that will bring us together. I believe that we have more to share than to divide.
    Happy Thanksgiving to all!
    Chari

  2. Tim says:

    I hope most Americans will give thanks for the many benefits we enjoy living in a free and democratic society. I believe it is a vocal minority that loudly complains about taxes, government and airport patdowns. These small sacrifices pale compared to what much of the world endures. We are grateful for the efforts of all who wish to make that world a better place. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  3. Gold Dust Twin says:

    I’m sitting here with my sister, the other Gold Dust Twin, recalling what our mother had to say on the subject of tolerance back in 1965 when the Freedom March took place. She came to me, obviously troubled, and said hesitantly, “I want so much to be accepting of other cultures and of people who are different from me, but there is one thing I’m ashamed to admit. Kinky hair is unattractive to me.” I hardly knew how to answer because she had never said anything negative about any group, and indeed greatly enjoyed going to a local Vedanta Center and hearing their message of universality. I think I remember this incident, which took place so many years ago, precisely because it was such an unusual thing for my mother to say.

  4. ted says:

    I don’t feel very thankful this Thanksgiving. Yes, I am thankful for myself, for my good luck and my comfortable standard of living. How can I be thankful to live in a country (world) where there is so much need and the few who have so much of the wealth are so loath to share it.

  5. Linda Dupre' says:

    I was personally reminded of the meaning of Thanksgiving on the holiday’s eve;

    While last-minute shopping for baking supplies, I was spotted by a young man, smiling in my direction. It only took seconds to recognize the younger boy I had known and supported through some tough times. I was greeted with a heartfelt bear hug, and the ensuing catch-up conversation detailed his December deployment for Afghanistan. Here is a 23 year-old male who turned his life around, only to give it to his country, so that we at home can buy sugar and chocolate with which to bake sweets. How sweet is his Christmas going to be overseas?

    Although not overly religious, everyday since running in to this individual, I have been saying a silent prayer of thanks for all I take for granted, and asking that he safely return home to his family and friends.

    • Gold Dust Twin says:

      I will join with you, Linda, in praying that this fine young man on whom you had a beneficial influence earlier in his life, makes it home safely and rewards you with another bear hug.

  6. Midnight Wonderer says:

    It has taken a long time for me to respond to the Thanksgiving post. I mull over the Pilgrims being illegal (without documents) immigrants. They had something that enabled them to settle between Virginia and Long Island. They had the Mayflower Charter which gave them what for the time was a legal document. Not for our 2010 eyes, but for 1620 eyes at least, this must have been a binding document. Not for the Indians, I fear. I shall ask my daughter (I call her my historian) because she is deep into the lure of the 1620 invaders or saviors of God and Plymouth ever since she learned that seven of the surviving pilgrims were her ancestors (not mine, through my former husband.) They were surely a religious cult, willing to sacrifice to be able to do things their way. Government treaties. colonalization, charters, its really does boggle the mind.

  7. Lauren Moss-Racusin says:

    This post brings to mind a lovely experience that I had a few days ago. During the summer of 2009, I went to volunteer in Peru for the second summer in a row, and while there, I lived with a wonderful family. My host family was also the group of people organizing the projects that I, and the other volunteers, were working on. I learned so much from the entire family, about the history, culture, and societal makeup of the country, as well as about the capacity that some individuals have to sacrifice for others’ well-being. Well, fast-forward to this winter. Slightly before New Year’s, my host family came to Connecticut for the daughter’s wedding. I invited them all to my house, wanting to return some of the generosity with which they had welcomed me in Peru, and we had a truly wonderful evening. My parents, who barely speak Spanish, and the Peruvian family, who speak minimal English, still found ways to communicate, share, and learn, enjoying each other’s company throughout. At the end of the night, the mother and father of the family told my parents: “Please, when you come to Lima, you have a home and a family waiting.” In light of the violent vitriol that has pervaded our country recently, it was touching to be reminded that there are people who devote themselves to respecting, helping, and loving others. Despite differences in country of origin, values, and daily practices, I believe that people can still find commonalities and be decent–and in my lucky experience, loving–to one another!

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