To my overseas friends, this may not mean much, but for me this is a special day. To me, it approaches what a holy day should truly be - a day of feasting, rest, and gratitude. Coming as it does 4 weeks before Christmas, our capitalist perversion of the redeemer's birthday, I have always found Thanksgiving to be far less contrived and free-market totalitarian than its December relative.
How could it be? The very notion of a holiday devoted to giving thanks for our blessings is antithetical to the foundations of free-market capitalism - fear, greed, envy, and lust for domination. There's a reason we don't have Thanksgiving carols and decorations shoved down our throat starting in August - the culture doesn't really know how to process the holiday.
Which is ironic, since it is essentially a celebration of the American creation myth. You know, the one in which the naive dark-skinned savages foolishly sustain the white-skinned bearers of civilization in their funny black hats. How often must their descendants have regretted that decision!
During one of my first ayahuasca ceremonies in Peru, I had a profound insight and healing around my family's involvement in indigenous American genocide. On my father's side, I am the direct descendant of Spanish conquistadores. My family owned an estancia in central Mexico about the size of a county. I'm pretty sure they didn't get it by being nice to the natives.
During the ceremony, I was overwhelmed that these same people that my forebears had murdered, robbed, and enslaved were sharing their most sacred medicine with me. I felt a weight of guilt and shame lift from me, amid a flood of wrenching sobs.
The motives of the Amazonian shamans and their communities for sharing this medicine with the world are surely complex. At their most base, they likely contain a desire for profit and spiritual control. But what I experienced down there, and continue to experience in my healing community here in the US, cannot be reduced to that.
"You shall know the tree by its fruit."
For me, the fruits of this work have been spiritual cleansing and healing at a level I wanted to believe was possible, but had come to doubt.
So today, in addition to the more traditional objects of family, health, and prosperity, I stop and give thanks for this sacred medicine and the incredibly wise and profound healing traditions that steward it. It is truly a gift from God, and I do my best not to forget that.
God bless you, whoever you are.