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Finding reason to celebrate

November 26, 2010

I have mellowed somewhat on the subject of Thanksgiving this year. Actually, I don’t know if it’s mellowing so much as seeing that I can find my own reasons to celebrate.

Besides, I really like an excuse for a big festive meal.  The best revenge, and all that. 😉 (And on that note…)

Yes, the cognitive dissonance of the official mythology still bothers me rather a lot. “On this one day a year, let’s admit that the savages our ancestors tried to wipe out like wolves, so that we can be sitting here enjoying dinner in the zero-sum game of life, may have had something to offer. And let’s make up warm-and-fuzzy stories to emphasize this. And get very angry at anyone who points out that these myths don’t have much basis in objective reality.” And so on. It’s still not good.

A rather relevant article, via unusualmusic on Dreamwidth: Stop Saying This Is a Nation of Immigrants! Yeah, most of my ancestors fell into one of the not-exactly-immigrant categories or another, and this mythology has bothered me as well.

But, the fact is that I’m sitting here with the means to talk about these things. I can learn more about the past, and what my ancestors were really doing (and having done to them). I am largely free to do what I want to do, and ironically am even considering taking on British citizenship; I can do that, for my own practical reasons, much as the idea may still chafe. I can look at ideologies with a critical eye, and realize that my very existence is in obvious conflict with the stories a lot of people in the U.S. (and elsewhere) have been trained to tell themselves.

To echo a book title*, “We’re Still Here”!

And my ancestors went through a lot to make sure of this. The more I learn, the more appreciative I become that they did. Besides the assorted Native peoples**, I do include the Gaels, the Angolans and assorted West Africans whose origins are still largely obscured, the Ulster Scots, the Welsh, the smatterings of Rhinelanders and French and Sephardim, and all the rest I don’t know about. They all helped me exist, in all my confusing Melungeon glory. 😉

A lovely bandolier bag, Quantum Envy, made by Tsalagi beadwork artist Martha Berry, from her site. There are more detailed photos on the bag’s page.

So, this year, I’m planning an almost Day of the Dead style feast, celebrating and showing thanks to my ancestors, with an emphasis on (native) American foods but hopefully with something to suit everyone tolerably well. I did a much smaller version already this year at Samhain, but it still seems appropriate.

Since it’s not a public holiday here, I’m planning on doing this over the weekend.

The proposed menu, for two humans and assorted animals:

  • Pumpkin, sweet potato, and red pepper soup (storebought, but sounded both tasty and easy!)
  • Roast duck stuffed with sage, apples, and pecans
  • Gravy, probably with cider
  • Cornbread dressing with sweet potato, apple-sage sausage, and pumpkin seeds–plus a small dish with smoked mussels instead of sausage
  • Nut-creamed succotash with chiles
  • Bacon and tomato green beans
  • Assorted pickles
  • Cranberry sauce (also storebought)
  • Lemony no-bake cheesecake with a (gluten-free) honey-ginger oat and almond crust–with some of the cranberry sauce and chopped walnuts on top

Things may well get a bit less ambitious, depending on the amount of energy I have available. Details will probably eventually show up on my food blog.


* Even the title of one which, ironically, assumes that most of us in/from Western Virginia aren’t. Which would seem horribly plausible based on experiences closer to the coast; my mom got into a similar discussion with a Pamunkey woman attending a conference at Virginia Tech, who was briefly surprised to meet her. See also Barbara Mann’s “Slow Runners”: how many other things has the government been in the habit of telling them the truth about?

** In this, I know to include citizens of the Tutelo and Tsalagi (primarily), Saponi, West Virginia “Mingo”/Wendat, Moneton/Mohetan, Manahoac, Shawano, Occaneechee, Tuscarora, Catawba, Meherrin, Lenape, and more than one of the “Powhatan Confederation” nations whose citizens fled west. There are surely more sources of refugees who banded together and formed mixed towns that I don’t know about.

And, frustratingly, I actually wondered whether to leave these lists in, wanting to give credit or no. That’s more important than maybe getting tedious.


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